Someone asked me about the history of barfblog this week – stuff like how it started and where the name came from.
Here’s how I remember it: Doug had been editing a bunch of daily listservs (FSNet, Agnet, Animalnet and FFnet) in some form since 1993. These were a big source of food safety-related news for risk managers (folks in industry, academia and the regulatory agencies) before Google Alerts, RSS feeds and Twitter existed. Beyond sharing what was going on in the food safety world, Doug encouraged the students and staff who worked for him to write evidence-based commentary and submit op-eds and letters to the major publications (back when there were actual newspapers).
I came along in 2000 and became a news junkie and jumped into the whole share-your-thoughts-in-an-interesting-way thing. Even with my grammar, spelling and general logic challenges. In 2005, when self-publishing was all the rage, we decided to start a forum to post stories about food safety experiences, the stuff that others didn’t publish or didn’t fit the format of the traditional newspapers.
And we started a blog. It wasn’t really a blog at the start, but a forum. And it got bombarded by porn spam. So we left it for a while and relaunched the whole thing in 2007.
But it needed a name.
Christian, a particularly creative undergraduate, came up with the name – barfblog (all in lowercase as Dave Stanley always told Doug uppercase was a waste in e-mail, and he agrees) – and then created a video of him guzzling vermouth and actually barfing.
The idea was (and still is) to write stories about what makes people barf and take current news items and highlight what we thought was important – based on the literature and our experiences.
Doug’s more concise description is this:
Every time I talk to someone on a plane, train or automobile, they find out what I do, and then proceed to tell me their worst barf story. barfblog.com was created to capture those stories, except most people don’t want to be bothered writing, so we did it for them.
Since 2007 we’ve embraced social media as a channel to carry out that dialogue and increase discussion. But we’ve really sucked at Facebook. Until now. We’ve got a somewhat new, but now active space where we’ll be posting our, uh, blog posts as well as pictures and links. And we’re looking for folks to jump in on the discussions.
Check out barfblog on Facebook at Facebook.com/safefoodblog