Thoughts After Two Years of Blogging

The last few days, I’ve thought about what effect blogging has had on my life. Like I said, I’ve been doing this for two years now. When I first started, I had no particular plan. But over time, I found that I was researching something. I still don’t know quite what it is, but my vision of it is definitely getting clearer. Perhaps it is just so that writing, regularly, about what you’re interested in gives it structure, transforms it into research. One of the first things I think of is how blogging has given structure to my … quest for knowledge.

Another good thing that has come of it is getting in touch with other people with similar interests. One of the ideals of blogging, in my opinion, is that you write about what you’re interested in, and don’t bother that much whether someone will like it. On a mailing list, for instance, you can’t do that. You have to think about whether what you have written will benefit the others who subscribe to that list. But in a weblog, you can post whatever you like, and it’s up to your readers subscribers to decide if they want to continue subscribing. I have thought that if I’m interested in this, there’s bound to be someone else on the Net that is as well. And I have found a couple of people with whom I exchange emails now and then, and whose weblogs I read. Or they have found me.

At a couple of times, I have fallen out of the habit. Days and sometimes weeks have passed and I have gotten more and more frustrated about not updating my weblog. I realized that I had to just dump my thoughts to be able to continue in my normal mode. At these times I’ve felt that the resulting posts are of quite poor quality, but for me they were essential to get back into practice. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. It does happen that weeks pass without any updates, but I channel my thoughts to other places, like private email conversations, notebooks, scribbles in columns of books, or just thoughts. It’s as if “blogging” transcends the blog. It’s about reading, watching, and listening. Then thinking. Then recording it. (But this doesn’t take place in distinct phases. Recording is as much input as “consuming,” and thinking sometimes feels like recording, and of course occurs while consuming and recording.)

In the beginning, I often wondered what it was about blogging that differed from keeping a private journal. I felt that I wouldn’t keep writing if it wasn’t public. But blogging was fairly easy to keep doing (except from the times when I clogged up). Perhaps it was fueled by watching Google crawling me every day, the PageRank increasing, my Technorati cosmos expanding. And, eventually, by getting in touch with interesting people.

So if blogging is about consuming something, reflecting upon it, and recording the resulting thoughts, the blogosphere is an environment that is very supportive of this. It’s the blogosphere that ultimately distinguishes regular homepages from weblogs. I find this difficult to express to people who don’t know what a weblog is. So I turn silent after having said that it’s a reverse-chronological list of notes, with permanent links so that others can link to them. Why would they want to do that?

As I said, blogging has given structure to my intellectual consumption. Previously, I consumed things rather haphazardly, although there indeed were books, articles, films, etc., that interested me more than others. Now I can quite easily tell whether something fits into my “plan” (but don’t ask me to explain what that plan is about, because I can’t). Chance obviously is part of it, as I can’t predict what others will point me to, but I sometimes feel that I need to pick random things to read, to diversify my consumption. So in a way, the tables are turned.

So why go on for another two years, recording my thoughts in a weblog? What good would it do for me? I no longer have the need, I think, to keep posting online just to maintain the structure and regularity of consuming, reflecting, recording. I could just as easily turn to using only handwritten notes. But I would no longer have an interface to the rest of the blogosphere. If I keep going, I increase the chances of being found by people whose interests match mine.

I had some more things to say about this, but I must go. But quickly: handwritten notes are low friction; I have tried to make my blogging as low friction as possible as well; lately, I have eliminated many frictions; consuming, reflecting, recording, that’s what we do in this ecosystem.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on March 21, 2004. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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