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Turning the page at Brainiac

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 8, 2010 01:02 PM

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Loyal readers (and people who clicked here by mistake): I'm moving on from Brainiac. (I'll soon be writing about similar subjects for the Wall Street Journal.) Starting next week, Sam Arbesman, a research fellow at Harvard Medical School who has written several deft and original pieces for Ideas and who is indirectly responsible for one of my favorite Ideas graphics of all time, featuring the disembodied head of Geddy Lee floating in outer space, will be taking over (at least temporarily, as the editors look for a permanent replacement).

I've been fortunate to be associated with Ideas since its debut in 2002, at first as the "Critical Faculties" columnist (print-only, biweekly). I took a brief, possibly ill-advised break from writing for the section in 2008, then was delighted to be asked to take over Brainiac, later that year, after Josh Glenn moved on to other impressive ventures.

Under its current editors, Gareth Cook and Steve Heuser, Ideas remains one of the best things in newspapers. It's been a privilege to supplement the ambitious pieces they assign and edit with the lighter--or, in some cases, just shorter--fare of Brainiac. The word "curating," as applied to blogging, is pompous and off-putting, but there's something to it: I hope the items I selected from the flood of thoughtful comment on the web--from publishing and design blogs as well as from the back-of-the-book sections of middlebrow/highbrow magazines--added up to something more than a random aggregation of stuff.

I hope to write for the section again, so I won't get too valedictory and mawkish here. But thanks to Gareth and Steve (and their predecessors Wen Stephenson, Jennifer Schuessler, John Swansburg, and Alex Star). I enjoyed trading links and emails with Alex Beam and Jan Freeman, among others. Drake Bennett set a high standard as the section's staff writer. I was always delighted to open the paper on Sunday and discover the graphics and layouts dreamed up by Greg Klee and his design colleagues. And copyeditors like Mary Creane saved me from numerous gaffes (in print, at least). Thanks to my thoughtful commenters, too, especially the guy who rightly pointed out that I use way too many dashes. I still do.

Sam can now attempt to achieve what I never could: Knocking Josh's "Tattoo you, Netters" out of its position as the most-clicked on Brainiac post of all time, by far. The hundreds of hits it still gets daily, however, may have something to do with the Angelina Jolie and David Beckham photos.

rush.jpg
(Rush: Getty Images / Globe Staff Photo Illustration / Greg Klee)

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
contributors
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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