Do people like, still blog?

Tag Archives: blogging

This blog post resonated with me recently – blogging is basically dead. Well I don’t mean completely dead, but it’s thought of in the same league as news media or journals – specialized mediums for certain people. Your average joe no longer blogs (or cares about blogs), they post on Facebook (even Twitter is dying). The same thing has happened on my blog for many years now – my blog is being carried by “monthly recaps”.

I used to blog more for a couple of reasons:

  1. I have a place to write down and share my thoughts
  2. I have a record of things so I can look things up later, whether they be photos or reviews or experiences

Reason #1 is not that important to me anymore. Like everyone else, I have Facebook or Twitter for quips, reactions or thoughts. But even then, I’m not really posting those there either. Maybe it’s because I’m older so I feel less of a need to express myself or maybe there’s just too many voices out there that whatever I say is drowned out.

Reason #2 has been replaced by the cloud. Yes I know, when something is on the cloud, it is at the mercy of the provider disappearing and then you’ve lost all your content. But everyone is in the same boat – if Google goes down, you lose all your photos and email. Can you imagine that happening for the entire western world? To me, photos were always the most important in remembering experiences, more so than my recollections or reviews, so once that is backed up, blogging loses its importance.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies (on airplanes) lately, and while in my mind it is pretty clear what constitutes each star rating, maybe it’s not clear for everyone else – so here is my system.

5 star – this movie is monumental and changes how I think or I’ve my life.
4 star – the movie is thought provoking and I’m thinking about some of the themes after watching it.
3 star – the movie was enjoyable to watch
2 star – I finished watching the movie but it was boring/not interesting. I could’ve used my time better and watched another movie instead.
1 star – I had to stop the movie in the middle because it was boring/sucked/etc

I think I’ve been fairly consistent with my movie reviews by following this system in my head.

In my previous post about Santa Cruz I was debating whether I should include some of my photos from my outing. Obviously adding the photos would have made the post nicer, but it would require more effort. In the end I decided I didn’t want to.

Thinking about it a bit more, I wondered if it’s because I was lazy or there was another reason? Maybe I just didn’t care enough about my blog now to put in the effort? Or my audience is so small that it wouldn’t make an impact? I think the latter is perhaps on the right path. Nowadays everyone uses Facebook, Instagram, Twitter that if you want to share photos you’d just put it there. Why bother putting it on a blog?

So I’d stick with that reason. But that leads to the question, why even blog?

If you’ve been following my site, it seems that I’ve been blogging less and less. It’s true that I have. At one point, I suppose I tried to blog every day. I’m not sure if I ever achieved and maintained that goal for a long period of time. But certainly, I’ve tried to blog every second day. I did that for awhile, but now it seems lucky if I achieve that frequency.

In reality, it’s actually worse – I have “moments of inspiration” where I decide to type out several blogs, which I then space out over a period of time. So while it seems like I might blog every 3 or 4 days now, I actually only blog once every 7-10 days! I think there are several reasons for that, many of them obvious:

  • Busier schedules with work and being a dad
  • Less desire to post about my personal life on the web
  • Fewer people blogging (and reading) in general, so it’s not as fun
  • General lessening of interest in blogging

I think the most influential one is the latter. Similar to my interest/hobby in music, I don’t think I’m as interested in blogging as I used to be; and while I’m not going to give it up, I think it’s on a long & slow descent to ambivalence.

When I see something like this, I get frustrated. And when I realize that I can help fix this problem for other people, I get an idea that I should do just that. Of course, starting a new project always has a cost; even if it is well-contained, there may be costs when you have to reply to email from other people who are trying to use your project, or things change that affect your project (such as Facebook APIs or Foursquare APIs changing).

In this case, what I think I can do is to help spread easy-to-understand information about how technical professionals can incorporate themselves. The medium for me is the web, because I want to address the lack of clear knowledge here; and that means that I’ll be blogging information. This isn’t a well-contained task because as I learn more things about running a corporation, or realizing mistakes, I’d want to share it on my blog. So it’s going to take some upkeep time on my part for sure.

Is it worth it to do? Maybe. From a selfish point of view, it gives me an opportunity to (yet again) try and earn income through publishing and advertising. Hopefully it will be more successful than my attempt with Photoquickies. It’ll be an uphill climb, mainly because there are already a lot of websites out there that use the same keywords; but I’m hoping that my focus on incorporate Yourself, on technical fields (like IT, software, engineering), and a do-it-yourself mentality will generate positive word of mouth and drive traffic to it.

We’ll see how long my motivation and willingness to type up long articles last.

I started a Tumblr blog a year and a half ago as an easy way for me to blog photos from my phone. I didn’t want to upload my photos directly to Facebook because they would then be lost in the Facebook walled garden and I wouldn’t be able to post it onto my lifefeed. On the other hand, I can cross post Tumblr onto my Facebook feed and retrieve a feed to integrate into my lifefeed, so it worked out.

I haven’t been blogging on it too much, at least it’s not a regular schedule. But I’ve also meant to use my Tumblr blog to reblog interesting graphics that I find as there seem to be a lot of Tumblr blogs posting funny and/or neat stuff. That was the theory, but in practice, there are just too many blogs to follow and I can’t keep up with what’s new every day.

Recently, I’ve decided to ditch the effort of reblogging. One reason is above, but the other is because I’ve been following the popular shake on mlkshk for a few months now and it is much easier to find the funny, trendy graphics because it’s pre-filtered! I lose the ability to cross-post my reblogs onto Facebook, but it’s not a big loss for me. It might be for you though, so if it is then bookmark my shake (not sure why they’ve decided to not implement RSS).

I’ve been blogging for can-you-believe-it over ten years now. That’s a very long time. But I think over the last year or two, my blogging and blogging in general has changed. In the beginning, it was a lot about spilling your unfiltered thoughts and ideas onto the web – your own soap box. People created blogs to be their diaries, and wrote about what they did every day (“went to the bathroom 5 times” etc). I think I shyed away from that and tried to post some more interesting thoughts that I had, or interesting things I found on the web.

Then, blogging became more accepted and more people started doing it. I think at that point, I (and other bloggers) realized that what we wrote is going to stay around for awhile, and we should tidy things up; maybe think a bit before dumping our thoughts because our names may be tied to our words. My blog cleaned up (I paid attention to grammar, spelling, capitalization etc) and I think the topics changed; I don’t want to take silly positions or post things that I may regret in the future (I don’t believe in history revision through deletion). My blogs started become more a record of significant things that happened (events, reviews) and less about me.

Now I think it has continued even further in that direction. My frequency of blogging has decreased in the last few months because there just aren’t that many significant things happening (or those that I want to blog about). I never really understood micro-blogging but now I think I do, it fills this niche where I can blog about myself without having to post it on my blog (giving me privacy controls and all that goodness, but also because there isn’t the overhead of writing a blog – it’s again back to that dumping of thoughts into a few short sentences). So I find myself just posting status updates on Twitter/FB instead of writing blogs about what I am doing.

So what does this mean for my blog? I think I will always keep something around because I want a place where I can dump long form posts; but it is no longer the first place where I post stuff (although I try and collect everything onto my lifestream).

I’ve used my “cheap thrills” blogs as a means of posting interesting links to my blog that haven’t been picked up by aggregators like Digg or Reddit. The reason I do this is because it used to be a pain to actually submit something to those sites; you had to come up with a title, a description, and a category. If I’m going to spend that much time doing that, I might as well just put it up on my own blog!

Ever since the controversial Digg v4 redesign, it has been a heck of a lot easier to submit links. You just paste the URL and the title and description are automatically generated. All you have to do is figure out which category it goes into. That makes it easy enough for me to submit links on Digg so I haven’t (and probably won’t) post any more cheap thrills!

Although, I think I will still post links, especially ones that could benefit from some commentary (and of course my Instapaper Queues for now).

Wow, I haven’t blogged in 6 days! There’s no reason for that really since I have been staying at my parents, where there is internet access but not much to do (aside from watching TV). I would chalk it up to being in the eye of the storm, since I am waiting to move into our new home and things get busy again. Although, after I move I probably won’t have internet access to blog with!

I installed the WordPress app on my phone so that I could moblog. I tried it the other day and apparently it doesn’t work! It inserts all of these newline characters into the text and messes up my organization.

But I do want to blog from my phone, so I created a new blog on Tumblr called Brokeh. I plan on posting photos from my phone on this blog, plus maybe some reblogs from interesting Tumblr blogs. It’s also been integrated into my lifefeed.

I thought my name for my blog is pretty clever if I say so myself. It comes from bokeh but since the camera on my phone sucks so much, it’s bRokeh!

Continuing my list of what I blogs I read:

  • The Superficial – Everyone needs to read one celebrity gossip site, otherwise how would you know what’s going on in the world?? I think they’re all pretty much the same but this is the one I follow.
  • Torontoist – Likewise, it’s useful to know what’s happening and what people are talking about in the city that you live in. And so we have Torontoist (although I am getting the feeling that BlogTO may be better…)
  • Hockey – I couldn’t find one single site that provides enough (not-retarded) commentary on the TML and the NHL so I end up reading 4: TSN, Bitter Leaf Fan, Raking Leafs, and Puck Update.
  • Nikon Watch – This is the only gear site that I follow, and you know I’m not even that interested in new Nikon gear. But I like to have specific sites for brands that I follow (which rarely update) instead of following one of the big players like Engadget or Gizmodo.
  • Joystiq [Xbox] – This is the Xbox360 channel of Joystiq, where I get all of my gaming news. I tried finding a good Xbox blog, but they are all marketing shills! Including this one!

There was a time when I had a lot of different blogs in my RSS reader but that was a couple of years ago. I eventually got tired of the chore where I had to sit down and go through 200 or 300 unread blogs. So I’ve cut down. A lot. It’s still an effort to read through my backlog, but at least it’s down to 20 to 30.

But you know, I never ended up posting about what blogs I read, so here is a start:

  • Boing Boing – This is a great blog with lots of obscure and unique posts. But it was also one of the main offenders in my backlog as they post something like 20 a day. Between that, its carefully integrated but perceptible advertisement/sponsorship and way too many posts about Disney/steampunk/freedom of speech; I now keep it as a manual site to visit on occasion when I’m bored.
  • Marginal Revolution – Every post is insightful and intelligent, although some have to much of an economics slant.
  • Kottke – I’ve been following Kottke since back in the 90s. He was the inspiration for many site designs. He’s had a career as a blogger for a few years now, and how much money he makes is dependent on how interesting his site is.
  • Freakonomics – This is the blog by the (Super-)Freakonomics authors and a growing cast of random people. I kind of see it as MarginalRevolution’s more sociable (and thus less enjoyable) younger brother.

I have a lot of embarrassing notes as part of the over 750 blogs that I’ve cross-posted on Facebook Notes. It’s one thing to blog about esoteric and anal things that you don’t really expect anyone you know to read because they have to actively seek out the source of your drivel; it’s another to stand on a soap box and blab all over the news feed of everyone on your friends list about the minutia of your daily life. Since I try to blog every day (ok at least 5 out of 7 days), I end up doing a lot of the latter.

Now I figured out a better solution for this. There are some blogs that I don’t mind the exposure and for those I’m going to add them to two categories on my blog, and I’m going to ask Facebook to pull in notes only from a special Facebook Notes category. That should help me from making my dirty laundry too easily accessible to the world.

I’ve been importing my blog (my blog, not my lifefeed) into Facebook as Facebook notes since 2006. That’s some 750 blogs! I didn’t really do it to drive traffic, as I would very much rather people visit my blog directly, but just because Facebook had this facility in place. It was never really an issue since these Notes didn’t surface to other users – until recently.

With some recent changes of the News Feed, every single one of my blogs began appearing in other people’s news feed like dirty laundry floating downstream. Embarrassing? Slightly, but that is kind of what you expect for blogging publicly. Actually what I was more annoyed about was that this meant there were two copies of my blog, one on Facebook and one on my actual blog. You can guess which one most people read.

Then there is a problem when people start commenting. I want the comments on my blog where I can control the data, and not in the Facebook eco-system. There have been some attempts to write plugins to import Facebook comments into WordPress but they typically don’t work anymore since Facebook likes to update their HTML every once in awhile. I’ve been keeping an eye out, and I was lucky to stumble upon a new Facebook comments WordPress plugin before Facebook broke it. With this, I’m able to import all (40, yay!) comments from Facebook into my blog.

As you may be able to tell from the truncated review in my previous post, there seems to be a character limit in the Nokia Share Online app that I use to moblog. They didn’t account for bloggers with a lot of time on their hands such as those waiting for their dealership to do maintenance on their cars. I guess I’ll have to continue my review (with links this time!) when I get access to a desktop machine.

* moblogged from my phone. How cool is that?

Ok, here is hoping that the third time’s the charm and I don’t have to fix up the HTML on this after my phone uploads this.

moblogged from my phone. How cool is that?

I haven’t been blogging as much the last little while, even though I’ve had some opportunity. My excuse is spotty internet access in HK, but really I just get tired of using my computer after awhile. When I get home from touring, I dump my pictures onto my computer, tag them, and start the job to upload to my server. But by that time it’s late, or I’m to tired and not in the mood to blog anymore.

February started off with the groundhog seeing his shadow and predicting six more weeks of winter. Did you know that the groundhog is only correct 39% of the time? Well he certainly seemed to live up to the trend because immediately afterwards, we had a week of above 0°C temperatures. The groundhog’s prediction was vindicated near the end of the month however, as we’re mired in -15°C weather again.

The Oscars and Grammys were also cold, at least to me. I still have no idea who won what at the Grammys and I didn’t watch any of the movies that won Oscars. The most entertaining news out of the Grammys was Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna though. Other black people having a bad month was Obama, as he had to visit Canada during winter and actually try and get things done with his new government. The various stimulus bills have ended his honeymoon period and now we can actually see if he can bring change® to the USA.

I started listening to the radio again this month, but it’s not really a pleasant experience. In terms of gaming, I spent this month playing Burnout Paradise, and Rez; with a smattering of Rock Band here and there. I caught up a bit more on my Japan blogging, and moved my blog onto WordPress.

The big change this month is really in terms of my blogging. I’m trying to play nice with the blog ecosystem and evolving my blogging so the content is better.

I feel like the winner of a reality TV show, because my blog just got a makeover! Goodbye 5th generation. It was actually a lot quicker and not as painful as I thought to move on to WordPress. My blogs, tags, and your comments all made it over. The permalinks and pictures in posts still work (recent ones at least – pictures from 2004 have been long dead). Your user accounts are dead, so you’ll need to create new ones (if you’re commenting) and my links blog is dead now too.

The links blog is really the only casualty. I didn’t know how to bring it over without mangling my database and sacrificing my blog’s permalinks (since they both share the same range of unique IDs). I’m fine with it though, because lately I’ve been thinking that I should quote the interesting portions of links as part of a “links blog”, so they will just evolve into smaller blogs (and so we’ve come full circle). My old links are no longer on orangefever, but fortunately I have a script that mirrors them onto, so they are still available under my account.

I’ve added my account to my lifestream RSS feed. If you’re subscribed to my RSS but not my lifestream feed, then you’re doing it wrong!

I knew this day was going to come eventually – I’ve decided to move my blogging off of my own software. Lately, I’ve been wanting to update my site a bit, some of the static text and links no longer make much sense, and I want to move it in a new direction; but I’ve been too lazy to update the content or the look.

Plus, it’s not as important anymore for me to be able to have a full understanding of the code base, previously it was nice to be able to hack my own code base to create tag clouds or what not, but now it’s not so much high up on my priority list. Instead, I wouldn’t mind having a sandbox area for bits and pieces of future blogs, commenting that actually works (hi Nelson!) and quick/easy integration with future web technologies.

I’ve already started the process of converting my existing database structure and archive to using WordPress. There’s a CSV import plugin out there, but I didn’t find it as flexible as writing my own scripts to populate the database (I want my links and tags to survive to move). I guess I still need to roll my own way.

My blog has become like a music blog lately, and actually that’s because I’ve had the idea of a music blog in my mind lately.

Not because I want to create one, because that’s even more work than maintaining a photo blog, but in finding a good music blog that I can subscribe too. I have at times followed several, including Coolfer and this other one which I can’t even remember the name of anymore; but the problem with these is that they are too bleeding edge. They talk about artists I’ve never heard of, and short of having to download every single song they post, I wouldn’t be able to find enjoyable music.

What I really want is some sort of pop-rock music blog which posts new singles from top40 artists, and maybe new artists that are about to make it big. Although I don’t think this type of blog would ever fly since the people who would read these wouldn’t be the type of people that obsessively check music blogs.

We’re going to California for a week starting a few hours ago. We’ll be hitting the Los Angeles area and San Diego, including Disneyland on Christmas day. Hopefully it will be less crowded than the malls this past week. This means I’ll have to delay my usual what-I-did-this-year blogs, and post more travelling blogs in the future (although I still haven’t blogged everything I wanted to about Japan yet). Oops, well I always have a backlog of blog ideas anyways.

Another neat thing about the Xbox is that everyone can register for a gamertag that tracks their playing statistics. This is then accessible on the web, much like accounts, for example here is my gamercard. It looks like there is a public API to these statistics (or maybe it’s just a lot of screen scrapping), because there are services that crunch your stats and produce graphics. Like which allows you to make forum signatures from your gamercard:

Another neat idea is 360voice which gives your Xbox 360 a “voice”. Basically a blog that talks about what you’ve been playing, and what you’ve been achieving. Here’s my Xbox’s voice (which is also part of my LifeFeed). Originally I had my privacy settings set such that only my friends could access my play statistics, so my “voice” was really dumb. But now that’s rectified and more informative.

I’ve had a Flickr account for-ever. I got mine pretty early – at least early enough to secure the three letter username k3v. For awhile, it was the biggest photo sharing site in the world, now I think Facebook has taken over that title. I used to upload photos on there but I haven’t done so since January of this year – 7 months ago. Why has Flickr fallen out of favour?

The simple argument is that Facebook, and its ability to tag photos against your social network took over. That’s one innovation Facebook has given us, and it surely is a reason; but it’s only an argument for “social” pictures. The Art of Photography doesn’t have a place on Facebook.

Perhaps Flickr is still going strong, and it’s just my perception of it that has faltered. Indeed, it never took off with you guys; my friends on the web. And I had only used it as a source to link my blog entry pictures against. Now that I’ve shifted to a banner-type approach for my pictures, I don’t have much use for Flickr.

But my dark horse in this argument is that I never really liked the way Flickr handled a photo collection. The navigation is clumsy when I want a quick thumbnail view of all the photographs I took – rather than a means to share and discuss photography. I was on the Flickr bandwagon because it was popular and hip – not because it was better. Now that it’s lost its cool, it’s also lost my attention.

I’m still in Japan, and not blogging nearly as much as I thought I would be. Internet cafes are less frequent and more expensive than I thought they would be, so I don’t end up in them often (and if I do, it’s only to backup my media or charge my stuff via USB). We’ve had a public/communal computer at several of the hotels we’ve stayed at, but there’s usually a lineup to use it so it’s tough to spend a lot of time there. All in all, this will be a very sparse month in terms of blogging! Hopefully I will remember enough to blog about it later (didn’t write a travel diary either).