Those of you who know where I work may be happy to know that we’re neck-deep here in the challenges of designing a responsive mobile website (in a cost-effective manner, no less!) As such, and since this blog serves a multi-faceted purpose, one of which is as a kind of sandbox for my own personal code-based experimentation, I’ve been playing with a few design tricks I’ve been thinking a lot about, once again resulting in the subtle tweaking of the look-and-feel of this site. Responsive design is tricky: you are essentially building multiple websites that overlap with each other — same content, different look — but that need to resemble each other enough that users just think things are shuffling around… which they are… but in clever ways that maximize screen real estate. In short, you change one thing and two more things break. You fix those and some other bit pops out like a cartoon pimple in a completely unexpected place over here. Yoink! I don’t seek your pity, just your patience if something doesn’t look quite right.
So, I give myself a sixty-two percent on this effort for the first year. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of those little “Sums & Pieces” questions that I’m supppppposed to be asking myself and responding to every day. I answered the first of them on June 4, 2014 and since then (according to the category stats) I’ve replied to 227 out of the total 365. Or, 62%… Of course, the plan was to keep going for multiple years and see how my answers varied. Some won’t vary much, I presume. Others a lot. But I’m curious… what do you think of those? Are they interesting to anyone else, or just to me? Am I saying too much… or too little? One year along is this all a waste of time and effort… or no more than anything else I do here?
Blogging is dead.
As such, some would be keen to insist that the age of this blog is very telling.
Fourteen years have passed since I started pounding vague opinions and anecdotes into the ether of the net via a vast variety of tools and purposes. And fourteen years later, here I am doing the exact same thing on yet another idle day off: opening up a blank page and just typing more into the deep, dark void of whatever this is.
Some would insist the fact that I have not been subsumed by some other greater media enterprise –bought up or repurposed or engulfed into a collective of some kind– is indicative of epic blogging failure.
Simply, who the hell would want this besides me?
After all, that is the singular (if unspoken) goal of a vast array of keen bloggers: that amatuer writing makes you famous enough to get noticed and added to the great snowball that is Media Version 2.0 … or is it 3.0?
Rather, I would suggest that my continuance as an independent blogger this deeply into the whole process merely suggests that my topic(s) is/are so scattered and vaguely narcissistic that it serves no purpose in the context of anything bigger. Simply, who the hell would want this besides me?
So, I Keep Blogging.
But as temporal milestones like anniversaries are wont to do, there is a lingering sense of re-evaluation in the air as this one blazes by me and leaves me tapping out more scattered thoughts into this space. The crux of any introspection is that you usually find exactly what you’re looking for, partially because of bias, but also because you wouldn’t be looking for it if some subconscious part of you hadn’t caught sight of it in your peripheral vision and been nudging you to pay attention.
I grabbed onto this medium because at the beginning it was new and amazing. While everyone else was still ah-gah over email, I was the dude who was “lost in vancouver” and giving you an odd little peek into my life via this clever new kind of web thing called a blog. A blog. A blahg. A what was that thing you’re writing dear? A blog? But then… new turned into common, common turned into habit, habit turned into expected, and expected turned into old-fashioned.
This blog is a little old-fashioned. Now. I get that. Now. Blogging is hashtag-oldskool online.
And then there Was Social Media.
I checked into the echo chambers of social media last night as I was watching the provincial election debate on television. The same old superstar tweeters were flashing witty one-liners into the great firehose-slash-echo-chamber of the twitterverse and a few hundreds of us were dutifully playing along, banging out retweets and trying to ramp up the trend-line on various nibblets of intellectually-vacant catchphrases.
I threw a couple stones into the ocean and my little splashes went completely unnoticed. I’m not a twitter superstar, after all. I’m an independent blogger. Who cares? Hashtag-oldskool.
I’ve been Instagram…ing. Random strangers give me hearts for my crappy, oversaturated and cropped iPhone photos, and yet somehow that’s a multitude times more the interaction and feedback I’ve had from the social play on this blog in the last couple years. Even if we can agree a picture is worth a thousand words, Instagram is still winning the ratio. And I can literally do that while I’m waiting for the walk-light to change on a street corner.
Thought and effort minimized equals interaction amplified.
Because no one comments anymore, right? Hullo? Are you there? Anyone?
And by the way: hashtag-tldr
Then I suppose if you’re still reading by now you’re an audience superstar, the kind who didn’t stop after the first paragraph or one hundred and forty characters in a blog post of the kind to actually write out “one hundred and forty characters” rather than just slam it into a simpler “140 chars”. Yeah, I do that on purpose. You’re welcome.
And by the way: hashtag-tldr
Over the River and Through The Woods
Last night’s two hours of social media flitting and frenzied suckling towards temporary blips of retweeter fame cemented the aforementioned gut feeling that has been lingering at the edges of my subconscious.
That: the rumours of the death of blogging is actually a bit of a relief.
In pursuit of what blogging is [air quotes] supposed to be [end] it is very easy to lose track of what I need it to be. In pursuit of clicks and reads and retweets, I’ve been catering to the wrong audience and if I’m being completely honest with myself –probably, maybe, even a little bit likely– grasping at a kind of internet fame that the rational part of my self doesn’t actually want.
As an economist might put it, the opportunity cost of seeking the impossible is in the ignoring of the rational. For a while now I’ve tended to be a guy who shoots for the moon, but only recently have I started to actually delude myself into thinking I’ll actually jump high enough to reach it.
The rumours of the death of blogging leads me think that it’s time to embrace the classics: hashtag-oldskool
After fourteen years and various half-hearted attempts to push these random thoughts into the mainstream of whatever counts as interaction or awareness or transient fame it occurs that such things are inherently pointless and purposeless. Blogging is dead, but this blog is not. Yes, perhaps, the collective subspecies of Homo Sapien Bloggius is doomed, primed for extinction, but those of us still clinging to life are set free to type out the last pieces of our history and set them into the bloggizoic strata of the archeological layers of the internet and stop worrying that the sands of time, twitter, and social transience are burying us from sight.
The Short of It
I’m not withdrawing. This isn’t one of those “proclaim my awesomeness” and leave the social media room whilst slamming the door behind me posts. This isn’t a triumphant withdrawal from the game.
Nourished in a little bit more of this vague kind of obscurity.
But it is a bit of a disconnect. My introspective evaluation is simply resulting in my reclamation of this space for myself. A really simple thing. A really very trivial thing. As of a few minutes ago I cut the withering line that spit little chunks of blog promotion into the firehose of social media. I unlinked twitter from here. Again, not to withdraw, but simply to flush that expectation of performance art, to that by this.
Hits will dwindle. Reads will wither. But I’m fine with that. More than fine: Nourished in a little bit more of this vague kind of obscurity.
Long live blogging.
Who’s fourteen today? This blog, that’s who! #blogiversary
I did a big switch-over last night and I’m going to try running my comments off of Disqus for a while. It’s not that I think WordPress isn’t up to the task, but I do think the advantage of a single-sign-on for YOUR personal information, and YOU not being required to give ME your email address in order to comment on the drivel I write here may have a long term, net positive impact. Not that its a huge deal with the literally tens of comments I get here every year, but just so you know… and just so when I dig back through my archives to try remembering when I switched, now I can. Ready… mark!
I’ve been avoiding putting advertising on this site for many years. Something about it has always seemed a little… I don’t know… dirty. As if I’m writing to generate a profit rather than writing for the sake of writing. But the nudge has finally come. I pay for all this out of my own pocket, but once again, my hosting fees have gone up by a tiny little amount, my domain registration fees have pushed up a tiny bit, and the more I write the more hits I get and … blah, blah, blah… money, costs, whatever and all those things you don’t care about. I don’t expect to actually turn a profit or anything, but I’ve opted to put adverts on my static pages (because a couple of those are generating hundreds of hits per week) and hopefully the trickle of pennies that doing so generates will keep this blog online for a few more years. Hopefully you’re not nearly as offended as I am.
As of today, this blog has been alive for 5000 days. Y’know… in case that impressed you or anything.
There has been a lot of chatter online about how to deal with trolling… y’know, people who deliberately stir up discord and hate through online forums and comments. A (presumably) relatively small proportion of the internet’s population goes online with the deliberate mission of spewing negativity into public spaces. But, and while it may come across as “pollyannaish” –overly optimistic and naive– it occurs to me more and more that this isn’t a problem of technology or of bad people doing bad things. Rather, it’s a side-effect of a near-vacuum of good people in public spaces ignoring or avoiding confronting a social issue. If even a small handful of people made it their mission to re-engage and re-claim those spaces, by engaging in clean, rational, and positive discussions –randomly or strategically– it seems like there may be a net-positive push-back on the trolls. I guess what I’m suggesting is this: could a social movement encouraging individuals to commit to posting, say, five nice and/or generally positive things every day into public forums reverse the tide of hate online? Or have we already gone too far?
I don’t know where people are coming from, what is sending them here, or why they are choosing the posts they are choosing, but they are coming. No… that’s the problem. Both sets of “analytics tools” I’m using, Google and the one built into my hosting package, don’t seem to offer much insight. But the “page views” counter on, say “Tilley, Reloaded” is nearly at 3,000 after little more than a month, and “To Experience: Dad Confidence” (an article I pounded out in about 20 minutes lamenting the pains of modern fatherhood) has reached an insane 14,000 hits in a little over two months. But I can’t tell why — or, how or where or when — these hits are being made.
Stop the blog. Kiss the keyboard. Keep typing. It’s official. Achievement Unlocked! This blog now has over a million words of pointless drivel! Huzzah!
The march to a million-word-blog continues. I just noticed that my counter is just three thousand words shy of the big seven-digit roll-over! At least it will be with this post.
My site just updated to WordPress 4.0. Cool. I think I started on 1 point something, so it’s amazing to see the incredible progress of this little blogging tool-that-could.