Posting Every Day

This marks the 17th consecutive day that I’ve posted something on this blog. I’m pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever done. At then end of 2011, I tried to game myself into posting 67 days in a row, but I only made it to 16.1

I’ve considered various schemes for resurrecting my writing on this blog. Here are all of the things that never worked for me:

  • finding a topic I’m passionate about before starting to write
  • any type of posting schedule that wasn’t every day
  • caring about pleasing or displeasing certain cantankerous people with what I have to say
  • needing to redesign my site before I can post again2

I don’t know if I can keep this up, and I’m not going to let wondering about that paralyze me. It’s not that hard to find the time to post one thing every day.

  1. I missed the 17th day, and then got seven more for 23 posts in 24 days. Then two missed days, followed by a rapid drop off to only eight more post in the year. 32 out of 67 days. 
  2. I have no less than three redesigns in various states of completion. I should probably just find a nice WordPress theme from one of my Automattic colleagues. 

800 Million Bloggers is a Good Start

My friend David Pensato has been blogging about his dreams of 800 million active bloggers and has followed it up with an answer to the question of why that followed. Ironically, he had to bravely attempt to summarize a largely Twitter-based conversation on his blog to respond.

The argument is simple: social media is microblogging, with very effective means of interaction thrown in. We create content and have conversations around that content with people we know. But, you’re not actually the user of these services, you’re the free-content-generating-product. Your content is the backbone of the advertising platform these companies are selling to advertisers, so these companies are understandably unmotivated to give you real control over your content and its presentation.1

So, David thinks that the web and our place on it is far too important to abdicate to the walled microblogging gardens of social media companies. And he’s absolutely right. But there’s a lot to be done between here and there, much of which he already covered. Here’s a few of my own ideas:

Blogging is Dead. Long Live Blogging.

Things move fast on the internet, and the terminology that was fresh as little as five years ago is stale now. Blogging grew out of former conventions, and whatever the future of blogging is, it probably needs to be called something else too as it shifts to being the new hub of our digital identity and canonical location of our content. Blogging is too tied to a certain mode of content production. I don’t have any special ideas, other than maybe just “my website” or “my (web) hub.”

It’s Identity, Stupid

Social media platforms solve the problem of identity. It’s great that the internet allows for anonymity, and I don’t think that that should go away. But there should also be ways to say “this is me” through means that aren’t owned by any particular platform. This is a hard problem, and I hope that it’s something that OAuth2 is addressing. Because I want to be able to 1) find my friends and 2) have them able to find me. Social media have succeeded because they do this way better. needs to do this better yet.

The WordPress Hybrid Model is the Future

Despite the confusion the branding causes, and have a pretty cool symbiosis going on. is for the people who can’t be bothered with having their own servers and software, which is frankly most people. But its relationship to the project that anyone can run is hugely important. Any time you feel constricted by, you’re only a few clicks away from migrating your online presence to your own server. This relationship between hosted services and open source software you can run yourself will be critical.

Social Media Without APIs Will Die

There will continue to be a place for various social media services, but there will not be a place for walled gardens. They’ll make pretty corpses. Social media like Twitter–which only succeeded because of its robust API–will guide the way. The walled gardens like Facebook won’t last. Social media will need to be members of the interconnected web rather than making the foolish attempt to be the centre of the web. The web only works when it’s decentralized.

Those are just a few of my thoughts. Leave a comment, or post your thoughts on your own blog (while it’s still called that!). Keep the conversation rolling.

  1. Facebook still doesn’t allow you to export your content, and Twitter only allows you to access your last 3200 tweets via its API. Google+ doesn’t even have an API worth mentioning. 

That 500 Posts Goal

When I relaunched this blog with its current design, I added post counts in an attempt to game myself into posting more often, with the goal of achieving 500 posts by the end of the year. That goal would have required posting in the neighbourhood of 2.5 times per week. I’ve posted only 15 times.

But, in conjunction with some newly available time, I idly wondered if that goal was even still feasible. Some quick math revealed that I needed 67 more posts to hit 500. I then discovered that there were 67 days left in 2011. Eerie.

So, I’m going for it. Not everything I post is going to be an essay, which was definitely the writing form that this design optimized itself for. That optimization has likely played a role in discouraging me from writing shorter-form posts. I might use this as an opportunity to play with post formats, especially now that there’s a usable UI.

Voice, Audience & Eavesdropping

Writing about blogging is generally uninteresting and, although I’ve done much of it in the past, I now dismiss thoughts of writing something on the subject as so much navel-gazing and tedium. But my post count hasn’t advanced for a couple of days, making it time to push something, anything, out.

A problem I’m facing as I’m restarting this blog is finding my voice, or more accurately, struggling to define my audience. In the early days, my main audience was church friends. That made things simple: I was talking to people I already knew. Later, as blogging exploded, I interacted with people in the Emerging Church conversation, on both my and others’ blogs.

My interest in the Emerging Church waned as I discovered that its “newness” wasn’t all that new and as I turned to more diverse and nuanced sources for faith & theology. I undertook a Liberal Arts degree, meaning that most of my writing was being done in a more formal, offline context. The blog became a refuge of informality; a place to personally reflect on my learning journey and post silly things.

And then I was done school, with an Honours degree in the Humanities and the absurd notion of becoming a professional web designer with no portfolio, experience, or connections. Surprisingly–and slowly–I succeeded, and this blog, and its audience, withered.

And figuring out this blog’s audience is the point of writing this. I want to know who I’m writing for, and I see that I’ve had a shifting audience all along. First friends, then EC people, then some mixture of myself and all of the above. Now throw in the possibility of some people in the web design/development community, and I have a hodgepodge of I-don’t-know-who-I’m-talking-to.

The solution, dear reader, is obvious. I shouldn’t give a shit about you. This site is for me. It has an audience of one.[ref]Understanding this tempts me to uninstall my Google Analytics stats.[/ref] I’m going to write things that I want to read and, if there happens to be other people who also enjoy eavesdropping on me, great. It’s not that I don’t want people to read what I write–any writer who tells you otherwise is a liar–but I don’t want to get paralyzed by figuring out who my audience is so that I can write things that they’ll like will make them like me.

As a small sign of this, I’ve decided that I’m going to consciously try to stop using the noun blog and the verb blogging in describing this site. This may seem a bit precious, but I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing this for the type of people who, like me, prefer existing nouns like journal or website and verbs such as writing to describe what happens on a website like this. I’m writing this for the types of people who, like me, associate blogging with first drafts hastily published.[ref]I’m not denigrating blogging, which is great, but I don’t publish first drafts any more on this site.[/ref]

I’m also writing as a person who does a crappy job of being a disciple of Jesus but who nevertheless sees everything in life through the lens of that faith. Don’t like it? I don’t always either, but if I’m not writing on topics of faith & theology regularly, I’m not writing for myself. I’d be writing to not offend, which produces only tedious prose.

The big upshot of all of this is that I have a standby comeback when my wife says “nobody will know (or care about) what you’re talking about.”

Top 5 All Time Posts

When you’re trying to game yourself into posting more often, it makes sense to recycle some of your old material in an effort to gain momentum. I saw many of my old posts[ref]This post will be my 419th so far[/ref] for the first time in a long while as I checked them against the new design, and I thought it’d be fun to share a few of them.

Since this blog has been effectively dead for the past 1.5 years, I thought that it might be good to draw your attention to things I’ve written here over the years. I could make a list of my favourite writings, but I frankly forget what I’ve written here. I instead used data from Google Analytics to name my top 5 posts over the history of this blog. They are:

  1. On Valedictions – This has been on Google’s first page for the term “valedictions” for a long time now and consistently gets the most traffic. It also happens to be one of my best bits of writing—it marked the time when I first started to understand the difference between writing and writing.
  2. A Modern Day Parable –I guess there’s a lot of pastors looking for sermon illustrations. This contemporary spin on the Parable of the Good Samaritan still gets to me.
  3. Demotivational – This one’s just silly. I had a period where Google Images ranked me highly for that term. Demotivational posters are still funny.
  4. Blogging: A Reliable Academic Source? – I was in University and grappling with how to possibly cite blogs as an academic source. Here I simply ask for feedback on the topic, and receive some. I collected some follow-up thoughts in a redux post.
  5. Go the Second Mile – This familiar turn of phrase comes out of the Sermon on the Mount has layers you don’t know are there until illuminated by a pacifist like Walter Wink. Reading this made Christian nonviolence the only feasible option for me.

And, to give lie to the number in the title, here’s four more posts that are interesting for other reasons:

  • Brian McLaren, Conversation and Life (most commented) – Your classic case of a secondary statement turning into an all-out comment assault.
  • Sign of the Apocalypse (amusing) – In which I begin a series of posts pointing to our impending doom.
  • The Violent Fantastic Imagination (personal favourite) – In which I connect two things I’m passionate about: fantasy books and nonviolence.
  • Rebellion as Staying Put – My only post to almost get published in expanded form, twice: once in a magazine, once in a book.[ref]Looking back, the disappointment from this contributed to my writing hiatus. I was cut from the magazine without ever being told until I opened my author’s copy only to discover I wasn’t in it. The book project fell apart due to the publisher slowly disintegrating.[/ref]

It’s encouraging to see how much I’ve written over the past 5 years. Now, to keep that momentum going.

The New

You might notice that things look a little different around here. Since business has picked up at Soma Design, I’ve been writing on this blog less and less. Over the last year I’ve been toying with the idea of a radical redesign to 1) amuse myself and 2) to hopefully prod myself into writing more–while I’ve only published 11 posts since the beginning of 2010, I have 22 draft posts in varying states of completeness. My favourite of the bunch is tentatively titled “Battlestar Galactica, Rationality, and Human Nature”–look for it soon.

I have more to say about the redesign on my Soma Design blog, but the short version is this: it’s all about the writing and not at all about anything else, like my WordPress theme. It’s also a responsive design that should adapt itself to a plethora of devices. It’s also a bit rough around the edges still.

Finally, I’ve now made the switch over to the domain. The old URLs will redirect to their counterparts on the new domain.