Ten years ago, I published this blog’s first post, introducing the Scholarly Kitchen.
A decade ago, the iPhone 3G wasn’t in stores yet; GPS was on its way to being acclaimed as a technology breakthrough by WIRED magazine; and Android was still a rumor. The breakthrough Marvel movie, Ironman, which conveyed the first of many origin stories, had yet to be released.
The origin story of the Scholarly Kitchen is short and sweet, involving no radioactive spiders or vibranium. Sue Kesner from Copyright Clearance Center and then the President of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) stopped by my office. I was on the Board, and she wanted to discuss how SSP might be more cutting-edge and current in its communication approach. She’d been spearheading a strategic review, and wanted something tangible to focus on keeping members current about interesting research and data in the field. Around the same time, I’d been playing with blogging software in my product development role at the New England Journal of Medicine. We talked about a blog. She asked how hard it would be to create one. I said, cavalierly, “I’ll have one up before you get home!” And so it began.
The first version of what became the Scholarly Kitchen was hidden from view, a mere prototype. A few weeks later, there was an SSP Board meeting in Washington, DC. Sue and I were walking down Connecticut Avenue with the rest of the Board, trying to think of a name for the blog. I’d also been reading about metaphor mapping, so I ran through a metaphor-generating exercise:
- What do we want the blog to reflect?
People getting together to discuss things.
- Where do people do that naturally?
Conference rooms, churches.
- What about at a party?
- Let’s call it the Scholarly Kitchen!
I like it!
We got a logo from a designer (Nicole Colovos), bought a WordPress template to jazz things up, and we were off to the races.
The Scholarly Kitchen’s debut wasn’t very auspicious. There were a couple dozen views of the first entries at most. The early posts were a lot shorter, too — they have grown from an average of 294 words each in 2008 to 1,383 words each this year so far, and the growth has been steady over time.
Like anything, blogging takes practice, persistence, and consistency before an audience builds, so I privately committed myself to one year of blogging. I also made the fateful decision to make it a daily blog (except for weekends), something that has proven to be good for the blog if difficult at times to maintain.
I wrote alone for the first few months, until the 2008 SSP Annual Meeting, where Howard Ratner and Phil Davis approached me about writing for the blog. Since then, we’ve added and retired a number of bloggers (mostly added), and have tried to increase the diversity of the crew along various dimensions — role in the field, gender, geography, and background.
After 5+ years of running the blog, I handed the reins over to David Crotty, who is about to match me in tenure. Angela Cochran now serves as the Executive Editor, providing depth for when David is traveling or vacationing, and likely praying David remains healthy.
Now, 10 years on, the Kitchen is a fixture (pun intended) in the community. More than 2,900 posts have been published. The Kitchen has more than 17,000 followers on Twitter (many of them actual, real people). The blog is cited in at least one presentation at almost any publishing meeting you attend, and we constantly hear stories about how posts are used to train staff, guide strategic discussions, and so forth.
Posts this week in the Kitchen will be commemorating the blog’s decade of activity in a number of interesting ways. Later this year, there will be an associated session at the SSP Annual Meeting in Chicago, the specifics of which we’re keeping under wraps.
As the founder of the Kitchen, it’s been tremendously gratifying to watch this germ of an idea grow and flourish, from a blog with a handful of readers to a brand that encompasses meeting sessions, webinars, an occasional podcast, and a daily dose of wisdom, insight, or provocation in our industry. Thanks to everyone who has helped over the years, especially those who created bridges for the blog as it transitioned from pet project to mature product to living brand for the SSP.
Let’s keep things cooking!
(Special hat tips to Carol Anne Meyer, Joe Esposito, Howard Ratner, and Phil Davis, who injected themselves into the life of this blog in helpful ways as it matured. Thank you.)