Time goes by so slowly fast

About two weeks five months ago, Molly (of WaSP fame) asked the question "Who do you blog for?" on her blog. This made me ask myself the same question, then wonder about why I started blogging, which in turn led me to think about why I stopped. This is a rather personal, possibly pointless and unstructured rant about the chain of thoughts that followed...

A final note to begin with

This paragraph is the last piece written of this post, about four days after the bulk part in the middle was written, a few months after the initial parts and a couple of minutes after the "wrap up" was written. As I mentioned it's a bit unstructured, and quite possibly it might missing a conclusive point all together. Nevertheless, here it is...

Though I never actually stopped blogging - I just didn't post anything for a while. Though in the months that have passed (since I last posted to this blog) I have posted a few entries to the status blog elsewhere on this site. But to be honest I was tired with the "same-old, same-old" I kept posting, tired of the "same-old" others kept feeding me with and tired of the same old wars of the web (be it involving web browsers or feed formats). Actually I was rather fed up with my daily routine, or rather how much of my time was consumed by blogs, blogging and flame-wars without actually leading to anything productive. When developing a publishing system, being fed up with publishing, (unsurprisingly) isn't that good of an idea. And although reading other peoples blogs (at least in many cases) is interesting, it just was too time consuming and unproductive. I guess you could call it a form of information overload. Nevertheless, it had to change...

The cure

One part of the "instant cure" was to delete all my feed subscriptions. Then after some time without any new unread items, I slowly started re-adding the most necessary feeds (for me that's news and some web-developer essentials). Lately I've also re-added some of the web-guru's I used to read, though I've become a lot better at filtering what I actually end up reading. Compared to how it used to be, I'm subscribed to about half the amount of feeds and spend about one third of the time I used to actually reading blogs. The big lessons learned; Stay clear of flame wars, be more selective in subscribing to feeds and be way less hesitant to delete (un-productive, un-interesting and/or purely time consuming) feeds.

The second part of my cure was to work on something different for a while. Although several things I worked on is likely to find its way into SparkCMS at some point in one form or another, most of it was completely free from SQL queries, permission strategies and security considerations. A nice change and very refreshing!

One of the more rewarding side-projects I worked on, was learning more about SVG. Rewarding in itself because I learned a lot about the SVG format, but also because I learned some geography and history. How learning about SVG became a world-study is rather simple, I usually like working with real-world examples and settled on flags this time. Both because I could start working on the simpler ones (such as the all-green Libyan flag) then progress to the more complex ones (such as Old Glory and the Sami flag), but also because having the flags in SVG for use in the CMS should prove rather useful. The geographical and historical facts initially came as an (unintentional) added bonus when researching flag designs, but after a while became nearly as important. Although a lot of the information that stuck is rather trivial, I've learned a lot of geography and history (both topics I don't know as much as I'd like to about). In the end, learning about SVG ended up being both entertaining and educating, had a nice therapeutic effect, and finally there's the added bonus of about 100 completed SVG flags.

Another big change is that I started teaching again. As mentioned before I'm (mostly) teaching introductory classes in Windows and internet for adults. This is something I enjoy very much, something that gives me a completely different point of view on both computers and the internet, as well as being something that gives me a lot of energy (despite of the fact that teaching can be very exhausting at times). Mostly I've taught two to four classes a week (occupying two full days each week). Hopefully it has made a difference to some of my students as well, helping bridge the digital generation-gap.

Sort of like doing the dishes

Then there was Molly's question. Who do I blog for? This was something I'd never really given much thought, and it soon dawned me as being a bigger part of the problem then I first imagined. Although I hardly have any readers, I was feeling pressured to deliver the content you wanted instead of what I wanted to write about. I guess it always was this way. Not that I'm entering any kind of popularity contest, want to join the "a-list" or anything like that, it was just the way things (unintentionally) worked out around here.

Well, at this point my thoughts drifted a bit away again and the question morphed into "Why do I blog?". When I first started blogging, my main reason simply was the fact that I was developing a web publishing system with a blogging module. I have a strong belief that one has to eat one's own dog food, so that one's given. I'm also a strong believer in keeping one's customer 'n' contacts well informed and in the loop. With blogs being an excellent method to achieve this, we have the obvious reason #2 to blog. Though good reasons, they feel more chores than being a fun thing to do (at least at the moment). It's sort of like doing the dishes; Although I really don't mind doing the dishes I don't exactly enjoy it, though when I'm done I'm both satisfied and happy I actually did it. So there must be something else around here somewhere that explains my desire to blog...

So why do I blog then?

Because I can. Although there are a few other minor points, it's really boils down to; Because I can. The same thing that excited me all those years ago when I first connected to a BBS, what made me craft my first personal homepage more than ten years ago and what still excites me the most about the net; the (one day it will be truly) equal opportunity publish, receive and examine information. The opportunity to point out that something sucks when it does in fact suck, or that I can disagree when it doesn't. I don't have to know any insiders to get hold of information, nor do need to I hire a PR-firm or know someone at the paper to get my opinion out there.

There's also a couple of reasons of lesser importance. When I was younger I was really good at writing English, somehow over the years this skill has degraded (or not developed with the rest of me... ;-). The best way I can think of to rectify this is to actually write something English, so I do. This also ties nicely in with something I've learned about myself more recently; I like to write. Not something I ever have been especially good at, nor something I can say I've ever enjoyed that much in the past (especially not in school), honestly I thought I'd never really enjoy it (sort of like doing the dishes). Might be that aging and maturing thing again, I really don't know.

So who do I blog for then?

I've finally figured it out; Molly, I blog for myself. If someone finds what I write interesting, entertaining or useful, that's just an added bonus. Molly, you hit it dead on the <head>...

My blog is the all-me, all-the-time station. That’s its purpose, and if zero, ten, or ten thousand people read or stopped reading, it wouldn’t matter. I’d blog to an empty house or a full one. For me, blogging is an outlet for all aspects of my nature whether personal or professional (...)

This is the all-me, all-the-time station, at least when it comes to determining what's on. This is my soapbox; if the offering isn't to your liking – please feel free to move on. I'm sure you can find something you like further down the road. If not, there's room enough and nothing stopping you from climbing up on your own virtual soapbox.

The comeback to the future

I'm back, I'm blogging again and I'm hoping to use this post as a decisive turning point for how I blog, what I blog about and ultimately how I feel about it at the end of the day.

I want to post more often, spend less time with it and at the same time have more fun with the writing. As such there are a few key elements of my old blogging habits that need to change.

  • First and foremost I'll have to be less afraid of making mistakes, I'll have to live with some spelling mistakes and bad wording, but I'll also have to accept the occasional corrections. Not being so dammed afraid of making mistakes should speed up the posting process considerably, in turn ensuring that actually posting something is less of a chore and much more fun.
  • I'll also try to be more direct, letting considerably less time go by between an idea and when I actually end up posting. This also means dropping a few ideas. More specific those thin ideas that might become a great post, require lots of rewriting/refactoring and end up with a less than mediocre post. This should prevent me feeling guilty for not finishing that great post.
  • I'll also be lowering the threshold for what I post. Not that I'll be posting jokes, funny pictures and useless junk all day, just that I want to make it a bit easier for myself to post after those really serious and important posts (I'm planning on writing ;-). As a proof of concept I've just posted a music video by Ok Go, just because it's entertaining and I'm free to post it.
  • Figure out how to end posts quicker and easier, without feeling the requirement for that snappy punchline or a conclusion that changes the world opinion of something.
  • Try really, really hard to limit the number of posts that end up breaking the 10 000 characters barrier...

A side effect of some of the revelations in this post, might be that I end up moving parts of the blog over to my personal domain (which is used for email at the moment). But I'll wait a bit and see how it plays out.

The end where it begins

Well, that's it basically.

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