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The Primate Diaries

The Primate Diaries

Notes on science, politics, and history from a primate in the human zoo.

Reflections in the Monkey House

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After a year of collaborative work it is time to reflect and give thanks. Won't you join us?

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape" by Nathaniel Gold

"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Ape" by Nathaniel Gold

Today marks the one year anniversary of The Primate Diaries in its latest incarnation here at the Scientific American blog network as well as my collaboration with the artist, and fellow primate, Nathaniel Gold. Anniversaries are important for our species. Nearly all human societies have annual celebrations in order to reflect and commemorate the events of the past year and augur in good tidings for the year to come. The reasons for this are obscure, but I suppose it has something to do with trying to create order out of the general chaos of our existence. In the United States, of course, it's so greeting card companies stay in business.

In the spirit of commemoration we'd both like to thank the editors of Scientific American--especially Bora who is instrumental in keeping this ship sailing smoothly--for allowing us this opportunity, the wonderfully talented and supportive bloggers on the network whose work regularly inspires, as well as all of you, the readers, whose feedback makes our work here so rewarding (but more on you in a minute).

First and foremost I'd like to thank Nathaniel and say what a great joy it has been working with him this past year. His incredible artwork has adorned every post I've written, including original portraits of those I've interviewed such as primatologists Frans de Waal and Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. Nathaniel creates with paint and ink the same vision that I try to evoke with 36 alphanumeric symbols and a smattering of punctuation marks. His work is remarkable and has resulted in two of his images, "Mental Health" and "Attachment," being selected as the network's Image of the Week and our collaboration has been highlighted as a model for the future of science communication. It's been a great ride.

But now it's your turn. Following in the spirit of Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science we'd like to know about the primates here with us, regardless if you've followed every post or if this is your first time. Please introduce yourself in the comments. Also, don't be frightened off by the registration. You don't have to use your real name and you won't have to wait for login information to be e-mailed to you. Just sign up and then come back here to sign in.

1) Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed? Let loose with those comments.

2) Tell someone else about this blog and in particular, try and choose someone who's not a scientist but who you think might be interested in the type of stuff found in this blog. Ever had family members or groups of friends who've been giving you strange, pitying looks when you try to wax scientific on them? Send 'em here and let's see what they say.

3) How did you find us? I'm interested in whether you found us, or regularly follow us, through Twitter, Facebook and/or other beyond-RSS mechanisms that you may use to corral your information stream.

4) What is it that you like about The Primate Diaries? Nathaniel and I do this primarily because it's a labor of love and we'd enjoy hearing what you appreciate about the work we've done this past year. Are there any posts or images that you remember well? Have any conversations resulted off-line from work you've seen here? What is it that brings you back?

As for reflections about my own work this past year, there's not much I could add beyond what Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his book Welcome to the Monkey House:

“I have been a writer since 1949. I am self-taught. I have no theories about writing that might help others. When I write, I simply become what I seemingly must become. I am six feet two and weigh nearly two hundred pounds and am badly coordinated, except when I swim. All that borrowed meat does the writing.

In the water I am beautiful.”

I've only been a writer since about 2002 and am two inches shorter than he was. But everything else is about right.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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