I’ve been thinking about starting to blog for a while, including tossing around some ideas for posts. But until now, I’ve never really sat down to write anything meaningful. I think part of the problem was that I wasn’t sure if people would want to read what I have to say, or if I could keep up a reasonable cadence of writing to keep the content fresh and meaningful. However, I’ve read two different posts that changed my mind and helped me to find the focus and inspiration that I need.
The first post that I read was “My Blog, My Outboard Brain” by Cory Doctorow:
Writing a blog entry about a useful and/or interesting subject forces me to extract the salient features of the link into a two- or three-sentence elevator pitch to my readers, whose decision to follow a link is predicated on my ability to convey its interestingness to them. This exercise fixes the subjects in my head the same way that taking notes at a lecture does, putting them in reliable and easily-accessible mentalregisters.
Reading this helped me to realize that it may not matter if a lot of people read the posts. Blogging could be beneficial to me, as I take ideas that I’m interested in and turn them into reasonably sized posts. As I’m doing this, I’m moving thoughts in my head to a different medium. I think that this will help me get a better grasp of the ideas and concepts, and perhaps even find holes or flaws in my own thinking. Seeing this really changed my mind about what my own blog can and should be.
Martin Fowler’s idea of a “bliki” was also interesting to me. Blogs and blog-like platforms are good for posting the formulations of a new idea or to provide a way to capture thoughts that may otherwise only live on in other sites (that I don’t have control over). I’d thought of installing a wiki engine, but I think the blog format is more suitable for capturing my own personal thoughts on various subjects, then made searchable and indexed with categories and tags. I can make sure that each post is sufficiently detailed to stand on its own, so that there is some value. The ability to capture drafts lets me work in private, but with the intention of pushing the posts public, And the categories and tags lets me (and hopefully other people) go back and find things later.
I try to write in a journal on a semi-regular basis, I keep notes electronically in Evernote, and I keep some documents on my computer or on Google Drive but those are either private or shared with select people. This is more open, more public. Since it’s public, I do hope that there is some kind of participation from other people. I hope that people read these posts and find some kind of value in them, that they leave comments or share them with others, or perhaps use the content as a starting point or framework to build something new or unique.
I consider this to be my personal blog, so the content will be extremely varied. I’ve read in various blogging advice posts that your blog should have a central focus. Although that may be true for some instances, I think that if your purpose is your blog acting as your “outboard brain”, I’m not sure that you can do that unless you want to maintain multiple blogs for each topic. I hope to blog about a number of topics that interest me, ranging from software engineering to productivity to the latest media that I find interesting to sharing some favorite photographs that I take and process. I don’t think that everyone will find every post interesting, but I’m hoping that some people do find at least some of the posts interesting and relevant. My current plan is to post something about every 2 weeks, give or take a few days. I’m hoping that’s frequent enough to keep the content interesting for anyone who decides to read regularly, but long enough to allow me to achieve my objectives in these posts.
If you have any feedback about posts, always feel free to leave a comment on the post. To contact me privately, the About page has various methods suggested.