11:15, restate my assumptions

In his first resurrectory post, Rob Weychert references an old (almost pre-historic) Zeldman tweet from late 2007:

Blogging. And blogging again. Writing is fun. Writing is fundamental. If you don’t write, you don’t know what you think.

Back when I started this site, chipping into other people’s conversations way back in 2004, the act of writing seemed to come much more easily than it does today. What was effectively a hand-rolled social network of blogrolls and reciprocal linking facilitated discussion and development of new techniques and approaches to design and development, and anyone active during those years shared a feeling of actually playing an active part in the conversations playing out across the internet.

It’s not like that any more.

Building a reputation online is simply not possible in the same way that it was back then. Instead of individual bloggers creating valuable content, we’ve moved into the era of Smashing Magazine and Mashable; multi-author, revenue-driven sites aggregating content and churning out “Top 100″ lists on a near-daily basis. A single author can’t compete with those content farms, and nor should he. For, luckily, as the web has grown up, so have we.

I’m not the same person I was in the early part of the last decade. Influence or reputation, which seemed so important in the nascent days of blogging, are now not high on my list of objectives for any online activity; I mostly aim to share what I’m doing, occasionally educate other designers and developers, and record my thoughts and feelings as life unwinds. And it’s that last point that is tied most closely with what Zeldman and Weychert were talking about. Writing, and writing regularly, is an activity with two clear outcomes. Firstly, and in common with almost every other activity you might care to name, it makes you better at that activity. The best way to become a better writer is to write, and write often. And secondly, it’s a way to order your thoughts and present a singularly coherent summary of your own views and opinions at a given point in time.

In recent years I suffered from a combination of having published a handful of popular articles, and increasingly scarce free time. This combination – the pressure to produce something worthwhile, while simultaneously having no time in which to do so – meant that I never wrote anything of merit. But now, one of those roadblocks is gone… and the other was never really there to begin with.

I’d also like to give credit where it’s due, and hat-tip a pair of colleagues who reminded me what blogging is supposed to be about. Stuart Frisby and Deepak Gulati both write with clarity and focus, sharing their impressions and experiences in a way I’d like to get back to. And that’s the motivating factor in today’s virtual house-clearance.

The previous version of this site has been packed up and delivered to its new home at v4.thewatchmakerproject.com. This new theme was chosen to free me from the artificial restrictions under which I had placed myself with the previous redesign; now I can post content of any length or images without layouts breaking or needing to fiddle with specific CSS rules. And switching to WordPress means I can also post from my phone, which is pretty cool, right?

12:50, press Return…

3 thoughts on “11:15, restate my assumptions

  1. Thanks for the mention Matthew, I have to say had I known anyone was reading my blog I might not have been so clear of focused ;) The pressure is back on, watch me crumble.

    I was in that same boat for a good while obsessing over trying to write something brilliant and in the end writing nothing at all. These days I blog on the assumption that I’ll be the only person who reads it, and in doing so take away my need for external validation in order to derive some enjoyment from blogging. I look forward to your future posts.

  2. Thanks for the tip of the hat Matthew. A year or two ago, I had a same lull. I just took it as a sign that I had nothing interesting left to say. Moving here has fixed that for the time being.

    And yes the friendships forged over this “hand-rolled social network of blogrolls and reciprocal linking” were much stronger too. This is how me and my wife met!

  3. Dear Matthew,

    Some people still read you ;)

    Actually I’ve felt this same kind of pressure for quite a long time (in France I’ve gotten well-known in our small community), and felt that each article had to be a gem of French language as well as of the wisdom I had to dispense the people. I’m being grandiloquent for the sake of explaining how heavy the burden felt.

    And then all of a sudden I decided that I didn’t care: whatever I write, people know me anyway for silly puns and for not biting, period. I figured it’s good enough.

    A personal blog is a personal blog, and I ended up thinking along the same lines: post whenever I feel like it, however long a post will be. No pressure to publish on any given deadline, according to any frequency or any quality standard.

    We’ve only got one life, haven’t we? No time to suffer impediments on our private time.

    Glad to read you, as always.

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