Get Blogging!

“Your easy guide to starting a new blog.

A blog is an easy way to get started writing on the web. Your voice is important: it deserves its own site. The more people add their unique perspectives to the web, the more valuable it becomes.”

https://getblogging.org/

I’ve been blogging since January 2017. In those five years, I’ve found it to be a useful exercise of thinking out loud, taking technical notes, saving websites/stories, etc. I, personally, find it useful in my own life, and I’d recommend it as a practice for others. This can provide some help getting started to non-technical users. The easiest thing you can do is pay for a site on WordPress.com. I believe they still have free versions, and the personal version is something like $4 a month. Well worth it, in my opinion.

Online Techno-Polymath Guy

“I was discussing with Sam the “genre,” so to speak, of the Online Techno-Polymath Guy. You know this guy. He (and it’s usually a he) has his own website, probably hand-crafted in Kirby, Github, or WordPress, as well as a well-regarded, personable Twitter presence. 

He keeps track of everything he reads, writes pithy blog posts on esoteric subjects. His personal philosophy is progressive with a futurist bent.  He has worked in a variety of fields, though you are unsure what he actually currently does for a living. He is knowledgeable, authoritative, but eccentric, which you can tell by the fun colors he’s used to design his fun little homepage. 

You can have fun clicking around his carefully maintained archive, witnessing the dynamic interplay of his disparate areas of interest. You can ooh and ahh at his reading lists, his quirky, inventive stances on issues like quantum computing and social media moderation. 

It’s all very inspirational.”

-Allegra Rosenberg, “Fear of the Archive.” tchotchke.substack.com. July 29, 2020.

When I read this, I thought I’d probably met the definition of this archetype for this person. Then, he goes on to say this.

“Better to be inconstant in one’s archiving (or forgo it completely) than to constantly be faced with the dirty dishes, the nauseating, living ‘matter’ of one’s past interests, pasts opinions, past genius lying guilelessly buried under strata of increasing idiocy.”

The weird thing about keeping a daily blog like this one is it is a process and a bit of a discipline. Here it is on Saturday morning, and I’ve nothing on my blog for the day. What do I do?

I have a Wallabag list that I put everything interesting I came across – in newsletters, RSS feeds or from wherever. I just look for something especially interesting or that I’d like to make a short statement about or would like to remember. Curation, and sharing of the things you think are interesting in this moment is a kind of love, a sharing of oneself.

The audience for these blog posts is the future me. It’s capturing a moment, and in some future moment, stumbling across it while looking for something else, I don’t think past me is some brilliant standard I’m no longer living up to. More often than not, I’m looking at the flaws, mostly spelling and formatting mistakes, and correcting them.

You see, future me remembers some of what it was like to be past me. There are wisps of memory of that particular moment, where I wrote something or did something, but much of it gets lost. But, being able to read these bits helps me to remember. Helps me to see how I’ve grown and changed. Whereas without taking the moment to write the post, it would be forever lost, like salt in the ocean.

Memory flavors everything, but it is its own kind of experience. It is always flawed and incomplete, like trying to see ocean salt when you can only taste it.

When I look at this blog, I see a few really good things. But, most of it is very mediocre. But, Sturgeon’s Law reigns everywhere. It doesn’t have to be good. I’m allowed to say dumb things – past, present and future – because I’m a flawed human being. And, every once in awhile, there’s gold in this swill bucket. But, you never get a chance to find it if you don’t stir it on a regular basis.

Lower your standards. No effort is lost of wasted. It’s this kind of dialogue, mostly with ourselves, that makes blogging worthwhile. I recommend it to everyone.

Smol Pub

Smol Pub is tiny blogging service.

– Web interface and CLI to manage your posts.
– Accessible from Web, Gemini and Gopher.
– Storage for your images.
– Write custom CSS for web.
– Attach your custom domain with SSL.
– Export your posts.
– No JavaScript, ads, or tracking technology.

On the back of My Writing Advice post from yesterday, a suggestion. If you want a low stakes online venue to just start a daily writing practice, Smol Pub would fit the bill. It’s $5 to get a key to start using it. Try it out. It’s nothing complicated, and you could try it for 30 days (or longer) and see if it works for you.

I find WordPress easy to use. But, there is a bit of a noodling period, particularly in the beginning, where you mess around with templates and so forth. There are templates on Smol Pub too, but it looks like it is much easier to set-up.

cafebedouin.org: 2021 Year in Review

Top 10 Most Viewed in 2021

Posts That Deserve More Visibility

Reviewing the posts I wrote this year, I’m pretty happy with a lot of what I’ve written. I think the post Write: More Frequently, Less Long is a good thing to keep in mind for the coming year. I posted about the same as last year, 408 rather than 418 in 2019. However, the word count for the year went up to 89,691 from 58,705. It may be better to be briefer.

In the main, you can probably expect more of the same in the coming year.

Farewell to Beyond the Beyond

“It’s the writerly act of organizing and assembling inchoate thought that seems to helps me. That’s what I did with this blog; if I blogged something for “Beyond the Beyond,” then I had tightened it, I had brightened it. I had summarized it in some medium outside my own head. Posting on the blog was a form of psychic relief, a stream of consciousness that had moved from my eyes to my fingertips; by blogging, I removed things from the fog of vague interest and I oriented them toward possible creative use.

Also, the ideal “Beyond the Beyond” reader was never any fan of mine, or even a steady reader of the blog itself. I envisioned him or her as some nameless, unlikely character who darted in orthogonally, saw a link to some odd phenomenon unheard-of to him or her, and then careened off at a new angle, having made that novelty part of his life. They didn’t have to read the byline, or admire the writer’s literary skill, or pony up any money for enlightenment or entertainment. Maybe they would discover some small yet glimmering birthday-candle to set their life alight.

Blogging is akin to stand-up comedy — it’s not coherent drama, it’s a stream of wisecracks. It’s also like street art — just sort of there, stuck in the by-way, begging attention, then crumbling rapidly.”

-Bruce Sterling, “Farewell to Beyond the Beyond.” Wired.com. May 17, 2020.

Bruce Sterling really nails the value of a blog, or at least my conception of it. It also makes me realize that I should be writing more for it. Perhaps it is time to start doing that.

20 Years of Blogging: What I’ve Learned

“…always write with the idea that what you’re sharing will live for months and years and decades.

I also do still strongly believe that someone who really has a strong point of view, and substantive insights into their area of interest, can have huge impact just by consistently blogging about that topic. It’s not currently the fashionable way to participate in social media, but the opportunity is still wide open.”

—Anil Dash, “20 Years of Blogging: What I’ve Learned.” AnilDash.com. July 22, 2019.

The post is a little heavy on “I told you so,” but there’s interesting nuggets if you want to dig for them. I particularly liked this from his fifteenth year anniversary post:

Meta-writing about a blog is generally super boring.”

45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

“Always be networking. Always.”

—”45 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog – Which You Can Use to Grow Yours to 225,000 Visits / Month, Like We Eventually Did.” CodeInWP.com. April 27, 2019.

Good advice if you want to drive traffic to your site, become an “influencer,” make money off your blog, or be Internet famous.

Or, if you are like me, use it as a guide of things to avoid doing. Except have great content, that’s good advice for everyone.

OpenBSD’s Guide to Netiquette

The OpenBSD’s mailing list page netiquette section is excellent. It is a distillation of how to communicate online, i.e.:

  • Plain text, 72 characters per line [or simplest formatting available]
  • Do your homework before writing
  • Include a useful subject line [or headline]
  • Trim your signature
  • Stay on topic
  • Include important information
  • Respect differences in opinion and philosophy

Using only plain text is extreme outside of email. But, the idea that formatting should not get in the way of content is good. Know what you are talking about. Help others to understand. Give them all the relevant information. Trim out anything that does not move the discussion forward or is confusing. Treat everyone with respect.

It’s good advice for any kind of communication and for life. It’s relevant to writing an email, a newsletter, a blog post, an article or anything else you may do.