Where I'm Failing

Album Cover: The Future

"Love's the only engine of survival."
Leonard Cohen / The Future

Posted on September 13, 2006 12:15 AM in Blogging
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I thought a bit tonight about where I'm failing when it comes to blogging:

  • I'm not taking advantage of the "journal" aspect of blogging. My blog entries are very often focused on current events or specific topics, but very rarely give any kind of history as to my personal life or the events going on within it. I would like to be able to look back on my blog in the future and tie memories to dates, even if only roughly (i.e. to the week or month).
  • I'm not innovating. So many people blog nowadays that a blog has become a "platform." One of the main reasons I chose to develop my own personal CMS was so that I wasn't tied to the feature set of any particular online blogging system or open source package. I wanted to have the freedom to try new things, as boneheaded as they might be, and rely on the feedback of my readers to determine if they are at all useful (Arcanius Style Recent Comments was a good example of this). I need to start pushing the envelope and trying new things.
  • I need to be better about "blogging outreach." In the past I did things like Random Blog that featured bloggers I wouldn't normally connect with in my everyday blogging routine. That in turn brought those bloggers to my site to check things out. On the flipside of that, I need to be more vocal and comment on others' blogs to bring those bloggers (and their readers) to my site.

That's about all I can think of for now, but I'm sure there are more. Just trying to keep myself honest...


Yoel Roth on September 13, 2006 at 3:15 AM:

Where blogging institutionally fails:

When people started accepting the blog as a media outlet rather than (at best) a journal or (at worst) a novelty, people (namely, the same elite who constantly preach the gospel of web standards and Web 2.0/hating Web 2.0) established these dumb standards for what a blog should and should not be.

But the problem with doing that is that, like the newspaper, bloggers are getting locked into one particular form, type of content, method of writing, and as such can't innovate. And, as The Economist noted three weeks ago, newspapers are finding themselves pretty outmoded.

Assuming the goal of the blog, like every mode of publishing, is to attract readers, are you "failing" if you have 50 subscribers on Bloglines? Are you failing if you have even a single reader? That's pretty subjective. But assuming the goal of the blog is to publish for yourself, are you failing if you post what you want to post, rather than what "ought" to be posted by the standards of a bunch of internet-trend-evangelical elitists?

To my way of thinking, no.


Sean on September 13, 2006 at 1:40 PM:

I decided a long time ago that it's not even worth thinking about these things. I sit in IRC channels and see people lament the lack of traffic their blog gets, or worse, they jump through hoops to get traffic.
I just want to reach across the Internet and smack those people, and shout, "Dude! It's just a freakin' blog for Christ sake."

Unless you're raking in $500+ a month from your blog, you really shouldn't care. Like Yoel said, blogs are just novelties.


Ryan on September 14, 2006 at 11:03 AM:

I happen to believe that my blog is not "just a novelty." For me, it is an outlet, a journal, a reminder, a therapy session. While I have stated numerous times that I don't blog so that other people can read about my life, I am also perfectly willing to admit that I do care that indeed some people are reading about my life, my thoughts, my rants, my loves.

I also happen to believe that Bernie's blog is somewhat more than a novelty. I learn interesting things by reading it on a regular basis, and I steal design ideas from him too (see Bernzilla Comments).

So, Bernie, I applaud your introspection and candor, but I don't see you as failing (except, you don't comment on my blog enough... j/k), rather I see you as wanting to get back to why you originally started blogging -- namely, the three points you listed above:

- You like to have a record of your life (I like to think that my recent post about how my blog is a real treasure trove in this respect may have influenced your thinking here, but thats probably just me being narcissistic).

- You like to innovate in web design and development. I think thats great, and I would love to see what you have coming down the tubes.

- You like to connect with people. That's also great -- I enjoy our connection, such that it is, which you initiated with a simple comment on my blog.

Keep it up, I say.


Bernie Zimmermann on September 14, 2006 at 9:31 PM:

First off, this has got to be one of the most thought-provoking threads of comments I've had here on my blog, so thanks Yoel, Sean and Ryan for contributing.

Secondly, I should probably clarify that the negative connotation of the post's title isn't indicative of the points I wanted to make in my post. It probably would have been better if I titled it "Where I Can Improve." I don't necessarily feel that my blog is failing, but rather that there are certain things I think are important that I haven't been doing enough of.

I'm in Ryan's camp in that I don't see my blog as a novelty. To the vast majority, blogging may be seen as such, but to me it's an opportunity to get my thoughts down in a consistent manner and keep a sort of record of the things I was thinking and why I was thinking them at any given point in time. How my blog attained the readership it has is still somewhat of a mystery to me, but I enjoy knowing that there are people out there who are interested in what I have to say.

That being said, I agree with Sean in that it's not wise to get caught up in numbers. And as I've stated before, if the content is good, people will come. Some people may be out for that big bumrush of visitors, but I've been there and done that. It's not all it's cracked up to be. I get more satisfaction out of the repeat offenders than I do out of the one-hit-wonders.

And finally, I'll fess up to failing when it comes to commenting over at Ryan's blog. The problem is I frequently find myself out of my league ;)


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