Recently Vincent decided come clean and face the inevitable, he’s just not a blogger. I strongly disagree about that, but agree that it’s pretty difficult to be an amateur tech blogger. (I’d also argue that it’s just one of his phases.)
Tech blogging is frustrating. The rumor mill is totally out of hand. Services have “failed” in hours after launch for minor fractions against bloggers’ ideals. The long-term view is totally lost, with the notable exception of blogs like Daring Fireball.
In “Fooled by Randomness”, Taleb argues how most daily news are just noise and that it usually is more efficient use of time to just read a weekly magazine. If something really big happens, you’ll hear about it anyway quite soon even if you didn’t follow the newswire. I think this is good advice. Again, Daring Fireball often just links to new things and it takes couple of days for Gruber to pump out a well-thought post, while others run around spewing rumors and speculation.
Secondly, tech blogging is time-consuming and conflicts in many ways. Vincent touched most of the issues, but for me, the major one is that I lost interest in following what goes on. I’ve no passion. There are so many Web 2.0 blogs that what can I add?
Here I believe it’s important to consider the reasons why someone blogs. For many, it’s therapeutic and way to express oneself. We have argued many times on this blog that blogging is a way to discover and learn about things. If these are the reasons to blog, it’s easy to see that once you’re not longer interested in the subject matter it becomes impossible to write about. However, it’s hard to see any other reasons for an amateur blogger who has a day job to write.
Similarly, tech blogging is easy if you live and breathe Web 2.0 (but you’re probably full of hot air rather quickly), but my interests these days are elsewhere. In my opinion, IT and the web today are very much commoditized and many “new” things feel incremental. However, it seems like even a new shade on a Facebook Like-button is front-page material and that’s why I dislike a lot of what these days goes as tech journalism.
Similarly, the sense of self-entitlement of many bloggers is way overboard. As everyone from Machiavelli onwards have advised, you really shouldn’t listen to such fickle groups but focus on your paying customers.
Sure, maybe I just have set my bar way too high. Vincent argues that the long form isn’t suitable for blogging. That’s true in a sense. But on the other hand, Twitter et al. have made the ulta-short form much easier than blogging. The friction to make a note about recent developments is much smaller in Twitter than with traditional blogging. I say traditional, because services like Tumblr and Posterous try to break this barrier. If you follow any of the authors of this blog on Twitter (and why don’t you?), you’ll see that in aggregate we’re still very active bunch – not just on this blog.
As mentioned before, for the past six months, I’ve had pretty good success with Tumblr (when it’s not down). It encourages focused blogs and short posts, which is great. It’s relieving when the software tells you that “it’s ok to just post an image and a caption. Or even just a link!” It’s a refreshing take. Besides, Vincent’s examples of one-thing-blogs as a learning device has always struck a chord with me. They work both as notebooks and diaries.
If I’d blog about what goes on in my life, I’d probably write about my fumbling attempts at data analysis discoveries at work (highly technical and because of my work, I couldn’t share results, data and the like. Making most posts hollow and vague), my dog (I already spam on social networks about it), computer games (I do that elsewhere). None of this is in the focus of this blog, which I have always felt to be the intersection of human and the computer and what that means.
Sure, someone might argue that moving from tech blogging to game blogging is not exactly an improvement. I’d answer that I’m just experimenting and trying to do it a bit differently. The quick reply probably would be that why not do that with tech blogging? I’ve felt that is what I’ve strived for, but, as said, lost the passion for.
I’m proud of many posts here. It’s the paradox of blogging that the poorer ones seem to be Google’s favorites. If that’s not discouraging, I don’t know what is.
If I were to start a new blog today, a better scope might be management. I’ve really enjoyed Cecil’s many excellent Enterprise 2.0 posts. It’s also easy to speak about work organizations because these days most of us spend 8 hours daily in such environment and it’s only lately that we have discovered that the web and the IT devices we use have changed the way we work and should organize our work. I believe there’s a lot we can do with the tech we already have today and whether you have iPad or iPad 2 matters very little. The interesting part is the applications of this technology and what it means.
Anyway, it’s much more fun to do cool stuff than to write about it. Tech these days is already easy.