In which I refuse to say things to you

A colleague has been pestering me to post here, and I will in order to explain to him why I generally resist.

The personal blog is a flawed metaphor, irreparably so. The statement made by publishing a blog bearing one’s own name is the wrong one, and I regret it entirely, for it implies that this venue is the definitive outlet for any web-hosted writing I should do, of any kind. I figure there to be at least four separate, competing, and mostly incompatible uses (and audiences) for a personal-name blog:

  • diaristic personal musing on one’s life and lunch. I have no cats, and more to the point can’t conceive of an audience that would give a crap. Admittedly, this means I instead inflict those musings on randomly chosen IM-available friends, but that spares the Google user of the future my opinions on today’s veggie combo at Pete’s Diner. There’s no evidence that a ‘blog’ is a better venue for this sort of self-absorbed jibber-jabber than, say ‘twitter’, or just talking to oneself as one walks down the street; at the least these should be segregated on “blogger” where they can be more easily disregarded.
  • Google fodder, wherein unrelated but hopefully useful facts are recorded only so that they can be found later through appropriate keyword searches. I have the most affinity for this category, because I find I so often helpful when other people document their solutions to problems (usually, technical ones), and the audience is not yet known to me, which means I have no reason to dislike them; alternatively, I would write these reference for my future self, whom I like quite a lot (though what’s with the gut, tubby?) Google being Google, these tid-bits could be stashed any-old-where without much loss of findability.
  • Persuasive or analytical essays on professional or personal topics of interest. I freely admit to being the sort of pompous ass who actually thinks “gee, I should be writing more of those” but, audience-wise: huh? Who’d willingly sit through my practice sessions, enduring a thousand words on my opinions on OpenSolaris, or lawlessness and torture, or what-have-you? Luckily I don’t travel by airplane very often, or there would be even more of these hidden away in the queue than there actually are now. At any rate, either such essays would cohere to a specific theme, in which case they probably deserve a venue devoted to the theme, or else they’re just scattershot musings on whatever, in which case: who needs it? Book reviews, too, demand particular mention: given a choice between writing for an hour about a book I read, or just reading another book, it’s really no contest; after all, what do I care if you better yourself? (I am, though, looking for a site somewhat like LibraryThing but more directly suited to keeping track of books one is either reading or planning to read.)
  • The exchange and discussion of ideas with one’s colleagues or peers, through posting and commenting. There’s some minor evidence that blogs can be succesful in this regard, but it’s not at all clear that blogging is a more successful medium in which for people to hash stuff out than, say, “bulletin boards”, which in the modern web-based variant combine the worst aesthetic aspects of the Web itself with the usability of a Fido BBS. As for audience: either it’s work colleagues, in which case I prefer shouting at them over the aforementioned veggie combo, or else it’s personal friends, in which case I generally like them too much to argue about some nonsense.

So. Combining this analysis of my mistake in installing WordPress with the admission that my boy and I are really pretty fixated on Super Mario Galaxy these evenings, I guess I’ve made my position pretty clear, then, huh? Except of course that here I am, writing the third “meta” posting in a row, and using twice as many words as I needed.

Tangentially related: I wonder whether there are formal methods for characterizing modes of communication, by which you could construct a framework in which to usefully compare the zillion awful tools we have available to us in the Y2K8 (email, IM, blogs, wikis, twitter, Post-Its stuck to a rock and thrown through a window) and assess their relative applicability to different uses. ‘Cause that’d help.

Also, seriously, why would Google Docs be unable to push the document’s title to WordPress through the MovableType API?

Category: meta One comment »

One Response to “In which I refuse to say things to you”

  1. edsu

    Wait, you aren’t related to the Boyko who coined Boyko’s Corollary to Brian’s Law:

    Given a group of nerds and a generalization, someone will always try to generalize one level more abstractly.

    ?


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