Blogging is hard
I started blogging quite a long time ago, in 2006. The first platform I used was Polish Jogger — a blogging engine centered around Jabber (aka XMPP) protocol. It was very cool (and unique) at the time, you could interact with your blog via IM (posting new entries, replying to comments), and it gathered a specific crowd of open-source/linux/free software enthusiasts which made for a nice community. My blog at the time was called Das Nichts1, and it was like most other blogs at that time — about everything. It was written in Polish and my audience were mostly friends from high school and college. Das Nichts later moved to Wordpress, and finally evolved into a tumblr, but in 2009 I stopped writing it, considering it too childish and wanting to switch to English.
I did. I created Sound and Complete, a blog in English, and hosted it on Wordpress.com. I tried writing about more technical subjects (linux and free software and the like), but quickly realized there’s a ton and a half technical blogs on the internet written by people closer to interesting communities (in my case free software communities), with deeper knowledge, and more engaged into certain projects. Obviously I could have become one of those people, but I was just about to start a PhD in logic, so my efforts concentrated more on modal logic, model theory, recursion theory etc. I figured that perhaps I could write about academic subjects, but I ran into trouble. With academic subjects (and logic/mathematics especially) you can either write introductory posts about things you know/you’re learned (but that’s a bit boring and not really something people want to read; modal logic is not as exciting as quantum physics, so it’s hard to become Brian Cox), or you can try publishing posts about details of your work. The latter is definitely more tempting, but in practice not really feasible, because it requires looong texts, lots of technicalities and it’s best suited for academic papers. So I ended up writing about everything again, just like in college. And that’s in principle ok, as long as there aren’t as many social network users as there are today.
The other day I took a good look at my blog’s archive and realized that out of a ~140 posts published here, about 15 is of decent quality.2 The rest are either links to other material on the web or personal entries that would work much better as Facebook updates or tweets. Linking to other sites is, as Guy English writes in the 1st issue of The Magazine, specialty of a certain well-known blog, and imitating it isn’t easy. Some tech bloggers find their own formulas, but I wasn’t able find mine. I’ve tried many platforms, from WordPress through Posterous, Octopress and Tumblr to Squarespace, and even Medium3 or Branch, but it didn’t really matter — my blogging was never not good enough.
I once asked my friend Szopa why he doesn’t blog anymore4, and then he said something I remember very well — he said he doesn’t blog, because he wouldn’t read his own blog. Whereas I used to treat my own blogging very lightly for many years, I’ve recently tried looking at it the way I look at texts in The New Yorker, The Magazine5, The Economist, or simply the harsh6 way I review academic papers. Szopa was right — I wouldn’t read my own blog if it wasn’t my own.
This is not to say there were never any good entries here. No, some of them I actually find insightful, others are helpful, and others interesting even though personal. That’s why I’m keeping them here, but there seldom will be any more posts, unless I really have something to say (i.e. more likely there’ll be something long-form). You might be wondering why wouldn’t I simply leave the blog as it is. Well, my website used Squarespace lately, and Squarespace is a paid service. That’s why I decided to simply move my homepage as a static html file, put it in a Github repository and leave some of the posts I find valuable here as static html as well. That’s not to say I won’t write anymore, but it does mean posts will appear only a couple of times a year.
- That’s due to my favorite TA in our Ontology class in the Institute of Philosophy, who’d notoriously ridicule Heidegger’s “das Nichts nichtet” quote (out of context of course). ↩
- I found some more after trying to be really indulgent with myself. ↩
- Even though still not fully open to the public, Medium seems like the most attractive and innovative publishing platform these days. I’m really looking forward to see it launch. ↩
- He used to have 3 blogs if I correctly recall. ↩
- The Magazine is actually something that deserves a blog post (sic!), because it’s a new type of a publication: a periodical distributed solely via Apple’s App Store for iOS Newsstand. Featuring texts by known tech bloggers it attempts to become a high-quality publication comparable to good old weekly magazines. Personally I applaud the idea, subscribe and read, but find that even though the texts are of relatively high quality, they’re nowhere near the quality of The Economist, The New Yorker or even The Atlantic. I am the worst kind of a critic, obviously, because I would never be able to produce anything even close to what John Siracusa or Marco Arment write. ↩
- Not really. ↩