Here’s a thing, October 05, 2017

As I endeavor to re-establish writing here as a regular and consistent project, I’m reminding myself of two things that helped me in the past.

First and foremost, it’s about the writing and the finished product over the page views and vanity metrics. No one’s biography or Wikipedia page says “and lo they were followed by many social media influencers and gathered many thousands of impressions!”

Second, no weblog is better than the one you already have. Resist the urge to roll your own tools and just write.

By virtue of Apple Music’s “For You” tab, I came upon the musical landscape of Tim Heckler. If wooshy, atmospheric ambient experimental/electronic music is your thing, you should check it out.

Also, you should listen to lots of Nina Simone.

Form: follow your influences

Now that I’ve sort of ranted about tinkering with software and how it is less important than writing, let’s talk about form.

I’ve found new energy in writing here of late. Part of that, I think, comes from thinking about a handful of weblogs that I really enjoy and figuring out how to emulate them on my own terms. What I find most intriguing and energizing to study is the framework within each author writes.

Shawn Blanc is a tasteful writer and curator. His site brings me interesting insight into design, aesthetic, and interface. I like his even-handed mix of original and linked content, his in-depth pieces, and his dedication to words over imagery. You can tell I’m thinking of Shawn when I write lengthy pieces examining an idea from all sides or when I post shorter links with a few sentences on how the linked article fits into a larger idea or aesthetic I find intriguing.

Tim Bray has his hands on many of the technologies and ideas I use on a regular basis. On his own weblog, he often goes off into the weeds of an idea, documenting an intellectual journey of trying to understand a topic that is new or interesting to him. I don’t always agree, and even find some of his stuff boring, but love it when he grabs hold of an idea and works on it. You can tell when I’m wearing my Tim hat (not literally) when I write a serial, a bunch of posts tied together by some idea, trying to figure out where the idea leads and how it fits into the bigger picture of an intellectual journey.

Jason Kottke is sort of the original gangster of curation. He is at his best and prolific when he is pulling together ideas, finding the unique and wonderful stuff. But more importantly, his erudition puts a lot of ideas and topics together I don’t normally come across. Sometimes I post things that aren’t really on topic for this weblog, but I do so because I think they represent the “cult of personality” of what I find interesting or exciting; this is me playing the Jason Kottke card.

Rafe Coburn is also a curator, but his topics-of-interest go a bit deeper, a little nerdier. Rafe’s at his strongest when he’s pulling together ideas about psychology, economics, science, and history. He uses these ideas to explain the political and technological world we live in. He does so in an opinionated way, but one I find easy to read and non-offensive, even when I disagree with him. I’ve yet to master his tone and the skill by which he brings ideas together, but if you see me posting on topics that are a little boring on their surface, its me trying to make sense of the world in the way that Rafe does.

Matt Webb is the island and the bridges between thinkers, dreamers, and makers. For years, I’ve followed his work, delighting in how he brings science, futurism, technology, and materials into wonderful and contemporary ideas. Even better, in his company’s recent work, he makes these futuristic ideas happen. Should you ever find me wandering into oddly disparate ideas, trying to pull them together into something wonderful, it’s likely I’m doing my own faint impersonation of Mr. Webb.

So that’s who I’m influenced the most by lately. The writers whose form, style, and excellence I strive to emulate, whose work I most enjoy. Yours are probably different. But the formula is the same: figure out whose work you aspire to the most, write a post about why you admire their work, and then get to work living up to the bar you’ve set.

Adam's guide to switching weblogs

Over the past few years of writing on this weblog, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve convinced myself that now is the time to move my stuff to new software. Oh, the shiny and wondrous things that must be on that grass that is so much greener on the other side. This, despite having written at least once before on whether one should implement their own blogging app.

Consider this my yearly devotion to not rejiggering things.

WHEN SHOULD I REWRITE/SWITCH/REDESIGN MY WEBLOG, ADAM?

If your weblog software is so broken you can’t post, get some new software that you can post to and port all your old content to it, taking care to preserve links and such (so much as possible; don’t worry about boiling the ocean).

If you make your monies blogging, follow your needs; actually you should largely disregard anything I say.

If you’re a designer by trade, I’ll allow that it’s often good for your cred to pop a hot new design a couple times a year; just make sure that only one in ten of your posts are about your fresh new redesign.

ADAM, YOU HAVENT MENTIONED ME YET, I’M CONFUSED.

I’m getting to you!

  • If you’re a writer, just WRITE
  • If you’re a coder, just CODE

BUT BUT BUT!!!!!!!

No, really. The important thing about a weblog is that you put your ideas and experiences down in writing. You work through your thoughts. You put them out there for people to ignore, criticize, or praise.

You may have a lovely thing where you post links, images, funny videos, etc. Great, me too! But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about banging two hundred words or more together into a cohesive, intriguing idea.

MAKE WORDS, NOT MARGINALLY USEFUL SOFTWARE SHUFFLING.