6th January, 2008
Two years on, here's another rant about the state of blogging
Have you noticed how many of us who have been blogging for a long time are gradually doing a whole lot less of it? I have, and I totally understand.
Four or so years ago I was banging out bonkers CSS techniques and flagging up obscure deficiencies and vulnerabilities in existing processes relating to the web industry, but also writing film, music and gig reviews, waffling about climbing mountains or places I’d visited, and innumerable other stuff you could take or leave. For at least two years I loved it, but now my enthusiasm for blogging is on the wane.
Don’t worry, as I have a plan, which I’ll come to. I’ll just share my thoughts first. Back in January 2005 I wrote a well-read entry called A rant about the state of blogging in which I basically moaned at how some folks frowned upon the content of other people’s blogs. Some high-profile bloggers were spitting their dummies about the lack of new techniques and ideas coming from other high-profile bloggers. Shit, really sorry we did CSS to death.
Anyway, I had a reputation for writing about web design and CSS etc and that stuff helped raise my profile and readership significantly, so no regrets. Still, I’d feel guilty about writing about my personal life or interests. Non-web articles would receive considerably less reader comments, and my RSS feed stats would actually show people unsubscribing with each article that didn’t address web design. I made the mistake of worrying about that for too long. I even apologised once for congratulating my friends on getting married! I mean, its my blog, and I’ll do what I want, but there is always a respect for those people who continue to visit it.
The thing is, for whatever reason, I’m more likely to be found adding new stuff to my Twitter and Flickr pages (and even Facebook) than find the spare time and enthusiasm to sit down and write a long, carefully constructed article - especially if it has to be about fucking CSS. The instant gratification I get from Twittering, Flickr-ing and anything else easy and community-based is what I need right now - and nobody following my “tweets” or photos cares if I make a grammatical error. If I set about writing a benchmark article about something important, I’ll only awake to find a comment about how I have misused an apostrophe or spelled “colour” incorrectly. It is important to remember that I don’t care about that. Only tonight, my friend Molly has talked about how Twitter sucked the blogging out of her, and whilst Molly seems keen to get back into blogging, many others have expressed releases of liberation similar to mine.
And so to 2008, and how to deal with this blog. Well, the long-promised redesign will happen, but right now my business takes precedence and I’m sure you all understand that. This is the second New Year where I haven’t posted the classic “Year In Review” post about all the cool and oh-so clever shit I’ve been doing, or my top five albums of 2007. I want to, but I can’t face actually sitting down and writing it, despite having a backlog of “oh-so clever shit” to list.
So, I’m going to do more posts, and yes that is logical. I’m just going to post whatever I like, whenever I like, whether anyone else likes it or not. My colleague Jamie is experimenting with a tumblelog and I love his approach. Its not a new idea of course, but in Jamie’s case I see someone liberated by a freedom to drop in links, quotes, videos and audio whenever he fancies. Short, sharp and to the point, but above all it is personal. A one-liner from Jamie on his tumblelog has me thinking for an hour or more about what is going on in his head, and I like that. A lot.
So, stay subscribed, and come along for the ride. In the next few days I’m going to build a simple method of bookmarking and posting direct from the browser to my blog from any site I’m on, or moblog thoughts and ideas as I have them, from wherever I am. I might be quiet for a few days, then post ten things one day - I don’t know what’ll happen yet. Sure, I’ll occasionally write some lengthy “think pieces”.
We Twitter, we Tumble, we Flickr, we Chat, we Bookmark, we Text, but save for a few exceptions (mostly those relatively new to the whole thing) we don’t really blog the way we used to. Its no bad thing. Hopefully, we’re all out more. Or Twittering. Or both.
I was going to write a really well thought out reply to this, full of insight, wit and all kinds of other good literary genius.
But then I thought ‘fuck it, can’t be arsed’.
I hear ya, Colly. Loud and clear!
I’m finding Twitter and the like to be surprisingly freeing. It’s more a stream of consciousness “you are here” proposition. The text limit encourages one to get to the point and makes it a no-brainer to chime in from anywhere, straight away.
I too tend to rant a lot more on Twitter, rather than complain on my blog. As such, I don’t blog a whole lot anymore. As for the naysayers who complain about your content, I say just write what’s on your mind, and let the chips fall where they may. I’m still reading via RSS, regardless of topic (though, must have been CSS that brought me here initially).
# StuartRollo responded on 6th January 2008 with...
But either way it’s great to hear from you again Colly
Is blogging in decline, a result of publishing tools, laziness or lack of readership participation?
Twittering from my phone is easy, hence l do that more, not hard to see what category I fall into as a blogger.
I have yet to find quick and easy blogging solution that works across all the platforms.
However as a reader I often find it frustrating when comments are not available (often for good reason I know)
look foreward to the new content
When you talk about “blogs” at the start of this post, aren’t you really talking about “web design blogs?”
I have to say, I find it sad to read how you used to feel, that “I’d feel guilty about writing about my personal life or interests.” I know others who have said the same thing and they were also thinkng what you were: “...its my blog, and I’ll do what I want, but there is always a respect for those people who continue to visit it.”
But there’s nothing respectful about trying to second-guess what people want and then giving it to them. Quite the opposite, I think. It’s that outlook which gives the world Stock, Aitken and Waterman… or Digg.
So I’m really, really happy to see that you’ll be giving us The Full Colly from now on. Looking forward to it.
Oh, and Twittering is blogging. You can preface it with “micro” (or not) but to me, it’s all date-ordered, permalinked personal publishing: Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, del.icio.us… they’re all part of a lifestream’s rich tapestry.
# Veljko Simovic responded on 7th January 2008 with...
i am writing from Serbia. I am a student of fourth year on “Faculty of organizational science” in Belgrade on the part for IT.
I was fully interested in WEB development and design so one professor of mine advised me to read your book and i am. It is great! Right now i am learning the part regarding layouts.
I just wanted to say that it is really really practical and that if anybody wants to learn CSS the way it should be learned he/she should buy or borrow this book and completely go through it.
So congratulations again on this piece and i hope that we can exchange some experience in WEB design and development, your words and advices would help a lot and who knows maybe someday to work on the same project together. :)
Cheers and all the best!!!
I much prefer reading blogs that have plenty of personal posts rather than purely essays or articles, and I can say in all honesty that yours is one of my favourites for that very reason.
I find it much more interesting to read the personal blog of a real person who is a web designer than Yet Another Web Design Blog. You (the author) are what makes your blog unique, after all. :)
Nicely captured Zeitgeist there Mr Collison.
I always appreciate the work that a considered article (on whatever subject) takes to right, and it’s downright rude to then berate someone for not living up to your expectations.
So more power to you.
Perhaps in 2008 we’ll all stop calling them blogs and get old skool. Maybe we will call them something crazy like websites!
Yeah, I sympathise - I can’t be arsed with “traditional” blogging either - at least not about web stuff. Even a one-post-a-month schedule bores me even when the reason for it all is CV filler to show potential employers that I’m current. Too bad they aren’t. I’ve put personal stuff on my blog before and then set it to private as I agonise over the site’s purpose.
I get more satisfaction from my new World of Warcraft blog. It requires effort for the big posts but I can also write a few lines about getting some cool item and not worry about what people will say. It’s a freebie on wordpress.com too, so I don’t worry about being judged for my markup either.
For personal stuff there’s Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Burst-transmission without spelling, grammar or HTML validation checking is very liberating.
I understand what you are saying completely, and, like Jeremy said, Twittering is still like blogging - just with a new outfit. Its easier, simpler, and takes much less time and though. Whether that is good or bad is still up for grabs.
For me, personally, I never had the strong voice about CSS, HTML, etc - and I have realized I never really liked that blogging in the first place. As with you, it isn’t worth writing something out and then the only feedback you get is grammatical errors. I want discussion. I want thought. Tumblelogs and Tweets seem to ignite that for me much more than blogs.
I am getting rid of my blog this week. I love reading and writing book reviews, so my new site will take form with a niche audience in mind.
I would say that blogging loses credibility after people constantly blog about the same things others are blogging about (see the recent MS vs. Opera, or even any W3c Debate - its all the same on every blog).
a freedom to drop in links, quotes, videos and audio whenever he fancies. Short, sharp and to the point
And this is how blogging used to be a few years ago, and then ‘we all’ started writing long opinion pieces and tutorials and massively researched investigations and it all got a bit too much like hard work. Back to short and pithy for me, if I can get my head around the concept (think Twitter with full sentences perhaps).
Just keep on talking when you’ve got time Colly, I’d be sorry if I couldn’t read your ramblings on this and that (usually when I am stuck with something).
Have a creative New Year.
Guy Roberts, Nottingham.
# Simon Collison responded on 9th January 2008 with...
Some heart-warming comments here folks. Thank you.
And yep, I really should (as Mark has done in his latest post) specified web design and web development blogging rather than blogging as a whole.
And as Jeremy says, you’ll be getting something like The Full Colly from now on.