Adam Bly is the founder and editor-in-chief of Seed Magazine and the Chairman/CEO of Seed Media Group. Seed is a bi-monthly science magazine based out of New York and is distributed internationally. The magazine looks at issues located at the intersection of science and society. In 2007, Seed was nominated for two National Magazine Awards.
At 16, Bly was the youngest researcher at the National Research Council of Cancer, where he spent three years studying cell adhesion and cancer. Bly has received many international prizes, including being selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2007, and has also received the Jubilee Medal. Bly lives in New York City.
Adam Bly: I hope that what we’re doing is inspiring and suggesting new ways to communicate those very ideas. We’re a media company. I left science to start a media company because I believe in the power of media. I believe strongly in the power of a fourth estate as a value. I believe strongly in the power of media to affect the way people think; to influence the way people make decisions. And I think that good storytelling by its very nature has great potential. And science is a great story, and new stories come about with almost greater frequency than in any other realm of society. But for some reason our interest in science as a society continues to climb. And our understanding of science, though, is either stagnant or it’s dropping. And so whatever media architecture we built in the 20th century – the magazines, books, TV shows, films, museums – to raise public understanding of science here in the United States and around the world achieved whatever objectives they achieved in the 20th century. It had great success and had great contribution to society. But media has changed substantially in the last few years – the way we interact with media, the way we consume media. The challenges in the world have clearly changed, and science is changing. And scientists themselves are changing. The role of the scientist today in society is changing. All of those, you know, combine to suggest to me a need for a new way of communicating all of these ideas in science. And so what we aspire to do at Seed Media Group is that through media, across a variety of different platforms, and in different markets around the world for different audiences, re-imagine the way science is communicated. And whether that’s to world leaders and work we’re doing with policy makers and world leaders; whether it’s with scientists themselves; whether it’s with architects and designers, and programs that we’re doing for architects and designers; whether it’s for liberal arts grads; or whether it’s for people in mainline China; with whatever project we’re undertaking, it’s really designed to raise scientific literacy through media, and by really trying to use the new tools of media today; use the sort of new aesthetics that are available today in science; use the new ways of telling stories and some old ways of telling stories and modernizing them; and also coming at it with certain kind of missionary zeal. We come to work every morning, it’s predominantly a group of, generally speaking, quite young people who feel very strongly about these things. And so there’s a . . . I think there’s a soulfulness to kind of what drives this every day. There’s a real desire to change the way people think about science because we believe in what impact that will have in the world. So that’s what we’re doing. The impact is measured for us first and foremost through influence. You know as a media company we can look at more quantitative measures and see things rising in traffic growing up, and see things in circulation growing up and things like that, and those are great; but for us the primary metric for success is influence. And if we can influence a certain group of individuals as we’re starting to see take place now in some successes that we’re having, that’s a good day’s work.
Recorded on: 10/17/07