Having realized that I didn't get the essence of blogging, I resolve to post with greater regularity and with less guilt. Heaven help us all...
It has been way too long since I last contributed anything to this
space. There are all kinds of excuses... I've been working on an
interesting project having to do with an infrastructure for medical
sensing, I've been working on a book on privacy for the National Academies (it will be out real
soon now, I hope), and there have been all sorts of other things going on
as life progresses.
But these are all excuses, not reasons. The real reason, I finally understand,
is that I really don't understand the notion of blogging. I came to this
realization indirectly. My daughter had been exchanging instant messages
with her aunt (my sister). She came away from the session mildly amused,
but somewhat frustrated. "Aunt Kathy," she said, "doesn't understand
IMing. She keeps composing letters. It's kind of irritating, since it
takes forever for her to reply to anything." (This, by the way, is a
translation that is meant to be only semantically accurate; the actual
quote would have had the word "like" thrown in at various points, but I
am not a speaker of that dialect, so I won't try to get the quote in
it's full glory).
I've realized for some time that different technologies require
different kinds of styles. Email is not the same as written mail, and
IMing is different from both. Having only recently become a user of the
IM form of communication (great way to stay in touch with the kids, by
the way), I've learned some of the telegraphy of the form. But my
daughter's comment made me realize that I had been using a different
form of communication for my blog, and it was not necessary appropriate.
I had been treating my blog much the way I used to treat my column in
the old Unix Review. That was a monthly work, and I would think
long and hard about the kind of point that I wanted to make, the
examples that would illustrate the point, and the way to best present it
all. The result was a monthly essay (more on object-oriented programming
than on the supposed subjects, which were C++ originally and Java by the
end). I was, in short, using my blog as a way to publish a series of
essays on the web.
There is nothing wrong with essays on the web. I've become quite an
admirer of the essays of Paul
Graham (even though I think his opinions on Java say more about his
programming background than they do about Java). But there is something
very different about the well thought out, well structured essays of
Graham and the blogging lunacy of Jose Melendez, with his daily
ravings on the Red Sox. I have no doubt that Melendez polishes his
prose, but the daily output trumps the deep thought.
In the same way, I have come to realize that a good blog will trade
existence for polish. Tis better to post often in rough form than to
post a gem (even if it is Zerconium) only once in a great while. So I've
made the resolution that I will try to post early and often, knowing
that the thoughts may be half-baked. If nothing else, it will give me
something to do while watching the Sox.
In my opinion, Blogging is just a way of contributing the Internet content. For long time, TV, Radio, Books, Newspapers were the mere mediums for broadcasting information. Mass-People didn't take part of it, they were only subscribers. Now with Internet, Mass-People can emit too.
Later on, I can imagine a mix of Wikipedia, legacy broadcasting medium (TV,Radio,Books,News) and blogs as the foundation of an Internet Knowledge Base.
> I resolve to post with greater regularity and with less guilt. > It has been way too long since I last contributed anything to this space.
Surely the mark of a good blog is one that contains just what the poster wants to post, when they want to post it. A blog that contains junk just because the poster feels the need to post something - anything - in order to hit a self-imposed rule about regular posts, is no use to anyone.
So hang on to the guilt and post quality not quantity.
> A blog that contains junk just because the poster feels > the need to post something - anything - in order to hit a > self-imposed rule about regular posts, is no use to anyone.
He didn't say anything about posting junk, IMHO this misses the point completely. The point is that sucessful blogs are naturally more frequent and informal than web essays - this is not a self-imposed rule, this is the way all great blogs are.