I was in a fraternity in college. (Where I went to college, housing depended on fraternities: there weren't anywhere near enough dorms to handle it on their own. Also, there were rules such that everyone who wanted to be in one, was guaranteed to do so. I say this because people who know me might not consider me a frat-guy.) It was a national fraternity, but on our campus the rules and mumbo-jumbo went out the window. Literally, in some cases. Anyhow, we'd occasionally get visits from some grownups in the national organization. Among other things, it struck me as an entirely useless job: an organization whose purpose was to promote the organization. A self-perpetuating loop of meaninglessness. Which brings me to Grand Rounds.
I'm getting a little annoyed over here. In the last few weeks, the whole raison d'etre seems to have changed. Instead of being a collation of the medblogosphere's current writings, it's become a theme-park at the direction of the current host. Maybe that's fine. Until recently, I'd thought of it (wrongly?) as an assortment of posts chosen from those things the bloggers themselves felt like writing about. Now, it seems to be a high-class meme; a writing challenge of sorts. I like writing challenges: I've participated in a few. (And I ignore memes, which may explain a lot.) But Grand Themes is an entirely different kettle of fish. I blog, in theory at least, because I have things I want to say. Sometimes a subject evolves from a comment or suggestion I get, which is great: it means my blog is stimulating (or so I'd like to think.) I assume that's what motivates most of us. To turn Grand Rounds into a theme dictated by the host is entirely different and, in my opinion, wrong. Want people to write about a subject you find interesting? Excellent idea! Post a request for submissions and call it whatever you want. Just don't call it Grand Rounds.
All politics, they say, is local. The reason I'm annoyed, of course, is personal. I've had a few posts of which I'm sort of proud lately, and which I'd intended to submit for Grand Rounds consideration. But for the past few weeks, in checking out the host site, I find a bunch of rules, criteria, demands. So, rather than write what I want to write, I'm to write what I'm told to write (within an admittedly broad band.) So I don't submit. Or, in one case, evidently, am rejected for non-compliance (can't say for sure: never got a response to an inquiry.) Again: I don't object to the concept; I just object to it as a modus operandi for GR. On the other hand, it's not my gig, and isn't up to me. Plus, I'm still a newbie. It doesn't matter, in the grand order of things, if I stop submitting -- it only hurts me, I guess, to the extent that GR brings readers to my site. But I don't go quietly. I go. But I thought I'd say why. Just in case anyone cares.
How does the above relate to the fraternity analogy? Sketchily, I suppose: a fraternity is for the people in it. The guys at the national level are no longer doing the fraternity thing; they're doing a thing about the fraternity thing. Grand Rounds are about bloggers. Themed Grand Rounds are about hosts.
The preceding is an opinion. It is not a call for action, even if I were in a position to do so. Grand Rounds should be what people want it to be, and if this is where it's going, so be it. I liked sending stuff in, and was pleased when it appeared. I'll get over it. And for any reader who came here looking for something other than medblog esoterica, my apologies. We now return you to your regular program...