Posted at September 22, 2014
This isn’t my first blog.
Back when they were still known as “weblogs”, I had a ugly little website running on TWU.net, which at the time offered free hosting for personal sites. It eventually migrated over to an acquaintance’s web server, likewise defunct. The front page had a list of updates, and eventually I started just spewing into the updates, and poof, blog. It was all hand-written XHTML, naturally. Every month I’d rename
index.html to something like
index-199908.html, and update my archive page. It was A Thing.
A lot of entries were formatted like this:
I‘m going to add WEird tags for visual panache.
The important thing >
important thing >
is starting each “paragraph” with a bold character.
AS IT WERE.
It’s strange doing that now. There’s a part of my cortex that remembers. There are, I’m sure, rules I’m not aware of. It was a style I used when trying to say something without actually saying it.
That was my first blog. There were many others: I got a LiveJournal invite, back when it had invite codes. There was at least one attempt at blogspot. I think I might’ve had a typepad account. I rather liked the old vox.com, because I could upload mp3s and share music. There’s this thing, of course. And I started a test new blog at nfg.github.io, mostly to try out jekyll, disqus, and github pages. Maybe I’ll move that thing over here at some point.
Then there’s Tumblr. (thaeus.tumblr.com, for the curious.) I don’t really use it. I went to a panel about Tumblr at Loncon 3; the gist was that it’s horrible, and if it weren’t so great they wouldn’t use it, and here’s a chrome extension you should use to make it bearable. That says enough, really. Every year or so I’ll log in and post some pictures. I think that’s pretty OK.
I can see why Tumblr took off, tho. It’s “verb” — the thing it does better than the other social networking sites, is “share”. Or, more accurately, “reblog”. It’s almost effortless; you can reblog with a little comment and that’s how you join the conversation*, or you can reblog just to increase its spread. You can reblog strangers, or yourself. Virality is built into the platform. Your tumblr might become a draw simply because you reblog amusing or outrageous content. It’s scary. Perhaps that why I don’t trust it with my words: I like to pretend their under my control.
LJ’s verb, for the record, was “friend”. Which is a loaded word — Twitter got it right with “followers” and “following”. But when LJ was still a thing for people I knew, it was kinda amazing. You could see on your profile who subscribed to your updates. You knew who your audience was.
That’s why I’m writing this, I guess. I don’t know who my audience is, here. This isn’t a good venue for the personal, not without requiring reading credentials or keeping $WORK from discovering it. It’s not great for sharing opinions, because I’m not especially opinionated. Perhaps it’s a writing exercise, but it’s not at all literary.
So what is it? Am I writing to The Void? Am I just fleshing out Google’s representation of me? Am I writing to myself, or writing for its own sake?
This too shall pass.
* WORST COMMENTING SYSTEM EVER.
Marc: Well, you’re doing this for free, and with little appreciation by others (I check your blog, but I’m not sure how many other do), so you have to answer the questions to your own satisfaction. I’ll make two points though:
Write down the sort of things that you’ll be interested to look back on yourself. For instance, a long time ago I wrote a post with formulae for linear interpolation in Excel; I find myself going back to it about annually, when I need to use that trick. Doesn’t matter whether anyone else ever looks at it or not.
Post stories that you don’t want to repeat over and over. For instance, if you find yourself telling one person after another about a trip to Vienna, it’s much easier to refer them to a webpage (and for those whose interest has been feigned, they can “forget” to check it out).
I think that travel generally qualifies on both counts, but YMMV.