Wonky's Land of Nonsensical Musings

Category: blogs

An Ode to blogs

Oh blogs how I love you so. Of all forms of social media blogs and message boards are by far my favorite. There are a few reason why I love the blog. Twitter facebook etc require almost real time attention.  You have to keep checking your phone or you feel like you’ve missed something.  That’s an added stress I don’t need in my life. A lot of the new social media sites make it much harder to go back and find older posts.  I love reading really old long term blogs.  Fascinating to see what people were doing/saying in 2007 say.  Blogs also lend themselves to a longer format of writing so deeper ideas can be expressed and discussed.   I despise the fact that most corporate social media censors what you see.  You aren’t seeing everything your friends posts but what their algorithms think is best. Best meaning generate them the most profit. I blog is going to always contain what the author thought was important enough to write. Your blog is there for you. Corporate social media is there for the corporation.

Blog archeology 1: blogging epochs

I sometimes think of myself as a blog archeologist. As I’ve mentioned before I got into blogging fairly early. 2003 wasn’t the birth of blogging but it was early days. Since then I’ve been far more of a blog reader than a writer. Anybody who follows any of my blogs can attest to that.
Back in the olden days I followed a blog. The person eventually moved overseas and I lost touch and stopped reading their blog. About two years ago I rediscovered them on the internet. They had been blogging the entire time. They had changed platforms a couple of times but all the posts in all three blogging platforms still existed. When I realized they had a different spouse I knew I had missed plenty. So I went back and read from where I had left them to the present. I read about moves and unemployment, children being born, sickness, a divorce and a remarriage.
This caused my rekindled love for the personal blog. Not only did I start following a lot of blogs again, but I have been reading them from their beginning. I’ve only done this with a handful of blogs at this point but it has been fun and enlightening.

1. The ancient past (1999-2003)

Not much remains of this ancient period.  Many of the blogs no longer exist and many of the blogging platforms have disappeared.  But I have found a few blogs started in this period that are still running or up.  Blogging was a much simpler affair back then.  Rarely were pictures involved and most posts where simple descriptions of the authors day. “I went for a run this morning.  Later I met Bob for lunch.”  Posts where generally short much like facebook status updates.  You often find people during this period complaining about using dial-up or having to find internet cafes.  Note: 1999 was the year blogger was first made public.

2. The age of growth and innocence lost (2003 – 2007)

During this period personal blogging really took off.  Several solid platforms existed.  Wordpress was released in 2003.  Home internet starting becoming more common. Posts became longer though still several times a week.  Blogging meant not only writing your own blog but also, reading and commenting on blogs. A slew of communities began to be created. People of like interests would share links, comment, and support each other.

This period also saw the rise of the popular personal blogger.  People who would begin getting thousands of readers of their blogs.  This helped spur the end of the innocence in blogging in two ways. First, people became aware that blogs were not anonymous(even if they tried to be) and were public. One of the most famous cases of this was the story of petite anglais.  Her employer discovered her blog and fired her over contents. Several blogs completely disappear at this point. Their authors just seemed to not even take the chance of of being found out.  Heck at the time I would put up personal medical details without even a thought. Secondly, now that people had many readers, the possibility of profit entered the picture.  Bloggers started inking book deals, adding ads, and trying other ways to monetize their efforts.

3. Growth and Decline(2007 – 2010)

This new found money led to an influx of people looking to get on the train. People started creating blogs looking to capture certain SEO rich topics. Some bloggers just kept on trucking with what they had been writing before while many tried to tailor their writing style and topics to acquire as many readers as possible. Some where successful, many were not.

During the middle of this period we see the big rise of facebook and twitter into mainstream popularity.  We begin to see a corresponding decrease in blogland. You see a log of blogs dwindle to nothing.  They authors post less and less and then just stop. Sometime there is a final message but often the blog just waits there in hopes someday of being reborn. I think many of these people just went to facebook and twitter for quick life updates.  Why bother with the hassle of a blog post when you can just quickly fling something out on your smartphone.

4. Rebirth in the time of Facebook(2010 –)

Blogging has experienced a comeback in the last few years. Many people are creating blogs as a way to write long form to complement their other online activity. For many, their blog is the centerpiece of their social media presence.  On their blog they have widgets that connect you to their twitter stream, or pinterest activity. 

I will not vouch for the accuracy of anything I’ve said here.  I am not a social scientist studying blog culture, I am just some dude who reads blogs.

A Life Worth Blogging

I sit on my couch with my netbook in my lap.  My cat keeps trying to sit in my lap and seems confused by this plastic thing in the way. I have tried to think of something to blog about so I am resorting to the worst sort of blog post, a post about blogging.

I think there are four main types of blog. You have the corporate blog. These exist for the synergising of brand awareness… or something else made up.  I avoid these like the plague. There is the pro bloggers. People who are an expert in a field and tend to write on that subject.  A couple of examples from my own blog feeds, a blog on woodworking by a professional woodworker, and a blog by a tech writer about laptops.  Thirdly are the theme blogs. Blogs about politics or discussing a specific type of news story. Think of blogs with an agenda. And finally my favorite type of blog, the personal blog.  I read a lot of personal blogs. Most of them are about expats living outside their home country.  This provides them with a nice exciting hook.

As I have returned to blogging I often wonder if my life is worthy of being written about. Seeing as I spend most of my time at a sports bar, probably not :).  Don’t worry I plan to keep blogging. It’s not really that I don’t have topics to blog.  Mostly I need to find the will to do it.  I can easily find the time. And perhaps the desire to blog will help me do something more interesting than just watching every single Blackhawks game.

Follow Friday: Robin Ellis

I know. I know. It is Saturday and not Friday and it is a twitter thing.  If you look down the left side column of my blog you will see the newly added Blogs I Follow section.  I plan on populating it with some of the blogs I follow.  Instead of just dumping a bunch of them on there at once, I decided to add them one at a time and do a little post about each.

First up is Robin Ellis of robin-ellis.net. Robin Ellis is an English actor who now lives in the country in France.  I have only ever seen him in an episode of Fawlty Towers. Robin has been diagnosed with diabetes.  It runs in his family.  A large number of his posts are recipes fit for a diabetic.  He calls his method of cooking a “Mediterranean style of cooking”.

My style of cooking in usually Mediterranean—based on olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. This cuisine–with a little tweaking–suits the slightly different way of eating that I adopted once the diabetes showed up.

 The flavor in these dishes and comes from spices and not from salt and fat. This makes for delicious and healthy meals. I have made several of the recipes he has featured.

Two of my favorites:

So if you are ready  for some really delicious healthy meals he is your man.  He also has a cook book.  You can find the details on his blog.

Food isn’t the only thing Robin blogs about.  He also give us entertaining snippets of his life in France. Robin places special emphasis on the animals that live with them.    

Again two of my favorites:

So I can highly recommend giving Robin’s blog a follow.  You are guaranteed (note this guarantee will not be honored anywhere in the known universe) a tasty recipe or a fun story.  Also, you might learn some info about diabetes.  

My weekend without social media

My original plan for the weekend involved driving up to Chicago to see my Dad and friends.  After those plans changed, I sat around Friday night trying to plan my weekend.  I decided not to do much at all.  I accomplished this goal in an exemplary manner.  I also decided to take a social media, or as I prefer to call it online community, break.  This allowed me to take stock of my current online life.  So in what way do I currently interact with people online?

Email: I actually kept doing this over the weekend.  I have to read email in case something goes wrong at work.  Email is one of the oldies but I still really like it.  You can be as short or verbose as you want.  An immediate reply is not needed so you can read at your own pace and respond when  you want.

Twitter: Probably my most common online interaction.  I use it on my phone, my tablet, and on my computer when at work or home. When I wake up in the morning one of my rituals is to look through all the tweets while I was asleep. Disconnecting from twitter for the first time in probably a couple of years I learned something I don’t like about it.  The immediacy of twitter requires you to almost constantly be looking at it.  I follow enough people that if I don’t check about every hour it gets daunting. The first day I wasn’t reading twitter I got anxious.  What was a missing?  Did someone just announce something important.  Yeah you can scroll back(I didn’t go back and read my feed after I came back online).  It helped me confirm my love for email and blogging.  They let you proceed and your own pace.

Blogs: I’ve rediscovered my love of blog reading.  Like I said above, I can approach them at my own pace.  I know it will still be there when I am ready. I read a lot of personal blogs and I love catching up on peoples lives. Once my weekend was over there sat all my blog friends in my reader just waiting to start my week.

Message Boards/Forums: Another old technology but also one of my favorites. I’ve been active on message boards since the mid nineties.  I still frequent a few message boards, mostly around sports teams. It was hard this weekend because there were two big loses and nothing is better than going on a message board and seeing all the fans panicking and complaining.

IRC: IRC is one of the oldest if not the oldest form of online chat.  I first logged onto an irc chat in 1991. There are a couple of rooms I still somewhat frequent.  My irc time has continued to drop over the last few years.  I didn’t find it hard to give this up.

Reddit:  A warning up front: Don’t ever go to reddit, EVER!  It’s s horrible place.  I like to call it the greatest collection of morons humanities ever produced.  And yet for some reason I am addicted to looking at it almost constantly throughout the day.  What I mostly get from reddit are laughs.  I sometimes laugh at the content but I mostly laugh at the people.  After this weekend I realized I am just a happier person if I don’t read reddit.  So back on the banned list it goes.

Google+:  Google+ is interesting.  It’s basically facebook for people I don’t actually know but find interesting.  If you are a geek it’s a fun place full of interesting people.  But even with that my use has steadily been growing less of the past months.  I hardly post anything there anymore and I don’t really read that much.  I’ve actually put a lot of people I follow into a list where I don’t really see any of their stuff.  I dutifully open google+ every morning and then hardly look at it.

pinterest:  I joined pinterest to have a place I could just put recipes I found on the web.  In a world of snark and negativity, pinterest soothes with its nice community and pleasant  pictures. The truth is I don’t pin much and only go there about twice a day.  So not using it was easy.

Facebook:  You probably wondered when I would get to it.  I have a facebook account but I don’t use it or post there.  To be blunt, I hate facebook. I am writing a long post on why I think facebook is evil and should be destroyed in a glorious cleaning fire 🙂

What where my take aways?  I love blogging, but already knew that.  I hate reddit but already knew that.  I just decided to block it from my laugh.

Cross posted on my tech blog http://www.tech-surge.com/2013/03/my-weekend-sans-social-media.html

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