On Blogging

Blogs are the soul of the web

One of the great things of wandering a sea of personal blogs is it feels as if I’ve been traveling through people’s backyards, living & dining rooms, bedrooms (some mischievously dark) and so forth in their uniquely beautiful minds.

It’s so very inviting because you are entering deeply vulnerable realms of fellow humans from all walks of life. Often you’ll find yourself wading into their souls and therefore enriching your own soul.

I believe this togetherness across spaces of bits isn’t a random accident of stumbling…

It’s as if these blogs are carefully placed mines (minds?) scattered across a faded internet to jar us free from loops of mindless algorithms.

Indeed, these mines blow us back into our humanness as a reminder of who we are and let us know we’re most definitely not alone in cyberspace (despite rumors to the contrary).

Oh, the stories we all could tell…

That’s what personal blogs do, sharing all flavor of stories with doors wide open in warm embrace of their words.

Short note on Blogroll.org

Fellow wanderers,

You may have noticed very few additions lately… Here’s why:

A couple weeks ago I took an extended break from the computer to re-invigorate my health ‘n such (link takes you to my personal blog where I write about it).

I know I would benefit from another couple weeks so rather than half-arse the break and cut it short, I’ll resume normal activity here in a couple weeks.

Blog submissions continue to roll in and will be taken care of.

I truly appreciate your patience — after 40 years of non-stop “computing” I’m starting to see the value of taking extended amounts of time off here and there for mental and physical vitality.

Take care and remember to take an extended break now and then too — your mind and body will love you for it.

What using RSS feeds feels like

Giles made a really good point that while we can try our best to explain the concept of RSS feeds to others, many may not “get” it.

Sometimes it’s better to explain how it feels to use:

I want to write down what it *feels like* to use RSS feeds, and how it *feels different* to using most social media apps.

His bullet points:

  • You’re the curator
  • You decide what’s interesting
  • You have more control over what you read and how
  • It’s a fast and efficient way of reading a lot of web

For the skinny, mosey on over to his blog post below and more importantly, pass it onto your RSS-less friends who could benefit from using an RSS reader.

Linky: gilest.org: What using RSS feeds feels like

(h/t Colin Walker)

State of the Blogroll

Around every three months I run a link checker on Blogroll.org to see who’s fallen by the wayside or whatever changes there might be via URLs shifting ’n all. It’s how I keep the blogroll fresh and clean just for you!

My observations from these scans:

  • An average of one or two blogs disappear completely during each cycle (i.e. their domain no longer works or the blog has been deleted).
  • While it’s fortunate to only lose a couple every few months, it’s always sad to see them go and they leave a hole in the blogverse. Like losing friends.
  • A large portion of redirect errors come from blogs changing their URLs (i.e. moving to new locations or changing the way they do links, etc.) and forgetting to also redirect their RSS feed. So don’t forget your RSS feed when you change things up, folks!
  • Regular RSS readers do not pick up these errors (they usually show an empty feed instead) so the only way I know is via my robot that checks to make sure yer still alive.
  • Still see a couple blogs moving to Substack… One continues to cross post to her blog and I told her I was glad she still shows up in my RSS reader. She had no idea they existed (and that some of us prefer to read via RSS reader rather than email). She was grateful to know and plans to continue cross posting because of that.
  • I bring this up so that you might want to let your favorite blogs know that you “see” them via your RSS reader. Otherwise they usually have no idea. I’m sure they would appreciate knowing they have some readers out there!
  • BTW, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do a newsletter and post it to your blog at the same time. Own your platform!
  • A few blogs dramatically slowed their posting cadence; they’ve been put on hold for now because one of the criteria of being listed in Blogroll.org is to post at least every couple months so things don’t go stale. My hard cut off is no new posts for 3-4 months.
  • One blog shut off his RSS feed but he continues to blog minus RSS. If your blog supports RSS feeds, I highly encourage you leave them on and please don’t cut your readers of mid-stream like this guy did.

Other notes:

  • I have a bit over 200 blogs in my queue to work through and add to the blogroll (in addition to a handful submitted by others).
  • Because of this I’d say blogging is most definitely not dead.
  • I will say they’re a lot harder to find through traditional means (ala Google, etc.) because there’s so much commercial cruft in ‘em and people usually don’t go past the first few pages of results.
  • I’ve found 99% of these blogs outside traditional means. I’ll have to do a write up of how I come across them so that others can and spread the word.
  • Quite a few bloggers have said the level of comments they get have gone down. I do see that and attribute it mostly to social media sucking ‘em up due to the nature of their chatty medium and the way they set it so all discussion stays inside their silos unfortunately.
  • But we ourselves are not blameless and should make more effort to jump in on blog comment sections even if just to say hi.
  • I have wished quite some time for developers to code their RSS readers to support built in commenting on articles/posts within their readers. It would greatly reduce friction and increase participation and would be a killer feature IMO.
  • There’s ways to hook your blog into other ecosystems to get more comments – I plan on doing a write-up on that.
  • I originally started this post in Ulysses on a laptop, polished it off some more on a tablet in WordPress app and the next day (today) made some minor corrections on the phone WP app and hit publish while at a coffee shop. Have to give props to WordPress for its versatility and ease of use publishing posts across a variety of apps and platforms.

I very much enjoy and appreciate sharing your worlds with us so thank you for that.

That’s all for now, folks. Blog on my friends!

Have you “Moved to Substack”?

Lately I’ve been coming across quite a few abandoned blogs with a note along the lines of “Moved to Substack.”

That’s all well and good but when you do that you no longer own your platform (and IMO lose a bit of character that makes you different).

There’s nothing wrong with utilizing Substack (I certainly see the appeal) but why not keep your blog alive as your central home at the same time?

It’s your unique calling card on the web — a more permanent record of who (and why, how, etc.) you are.

Set up a way for your blog to slurp your new Substack posts (i.e. on WordPress you can use an RSS aggregator plugin to pull in your Substack RSS feed) so they’re automatically archived on your own domain.

Use your blog for other things too — a bio page, now page, etc. and of course a blogroll of your favorite blogs. Make it a Central Square of You with signposts to your other presences on Substack and social media.

That way you’re covered if Substack ever changes or goes out of business or you get tired of it. Your Home Sweet Home is still there because it’s truly and only yours.

On a related note, when I browse from someone’s blog over to their Substack it feels like going from a sweet little neighborhood into a staid corporate park. A little piece of joy dies in me when that happens because it’s another reminder of the corporatization of the web.

Blogs just have a different, personal vibe to ’em and it’s a reminder of why they’re so cool.

Substack: Visiting someone’s office. Blogs: Hanging out on a friend’s porch.

1 2 4