How This Blog Has Changed
This blog has been running since 2004. It’s changed a lot over the years. this reflects the way blogging has also changed.
I’ve been thinking about this blog lately. Not “why bother?” I went through that mood late last year. IL Rather, I’m wondering about its significance and whether, maybe, it’s my life’s work!
In their heyday, blogs were often derided as vanity projects. Today, they seem kind of old-fashioned. But I’ve been doing this since 2004, and 2,204 posts later this thing must mean something, right?
Blogging is a way to think in public. It’s a way to stay accountable to learning and growing.
This public act is also a way to regain ownership of our story.
Even the humblest blogs have always been an act of defiance, a challenge to the established order of who gets to speak, to publish, to write history.
Newsletters – like blogs in many ways – reflect the same ethos. Newsletter writers have similar motivations to early bloggers. And they are growing in number because of economic uncertainty and ethical considerations in the publishing and writing world.
The Significance Of Small Things
Even though I’ve been blogging for so long, this blog has never been my main priority. I’ve never thought of myself as “a blogger” and felt odd if others have introduced me as one.
I’ve always treated blogging as “just something I do”.
Thankfully, all the posts are still there. It’s astonishing how many articles I posted and then forgot about. My interests have shifted over the years. But there’s a lot of fascinating observations in the older articles.
This makes me wonder about the stuff we keep doing for years and years without allowing ourselves time to see how all that activity is shaping a body of knowledge for us.
I think of the thousands of meals I’ve cooked with no record to show. All the photos in my digital library that were never looked at again. Even though I could go through all my tweets and messages and online comments, I never will.
But at least I have the blog.
Three Evolutionary Phases
While preparing for the recent article about SEO, I trawled through my blogs. The frequency with which I posted changed over the years. There seemed to be three clear seasons. You can see that in the chart below.
In the early days, I was posting about once a day. Some of these were essays or longer reviews, but a lot of posts were little more than just a link and a comment.
From 2008, the cadence drops to 10–12 posts a month. The advent of social media meant the smaller observations had a home there instead of on the blog. The average length of posts also increased at this time, with few articles shorter than 450 words.
Then, from 2015 onwards, we get the current rhythm of about 4–5 posts a month, or once a week. The articles have got even longer, with few under 600 words and several reaching over 2,000 words.
Themes also changed. Early on, there are lots of small observations about life as an expat in Delhi and then Hong Kong. There’s quite a bit of religion and politics, and a lot of newsy updates about music gear and technology.
Around 2008, the blog becomes about “studio life”. The writing about making music, or photos, or using technology becomes more reflective. There are pieces on expatriate life and family, but there are also a lot of reviews of concerts, films, books.
Then, from 2014, the focus on creativity and making things increases. Productivity features more prominently. As does mental health. I still write occasionally about being an expat, but it’s mostly in the context of relocation and learning to adapt to new environments.
Moving Fast And Leaving Broken Things Behind
Over the years, this blog’s categorization system and tagging structure has changed again and again. Early on, I tagged posts as “daily life” and “thoughts”, which are pretty useless descriptions. For a long time, I used categories like “sounds” and “images”, which was not a helpful guide to whether a post was a review of a piece of gear or a description of something I was working on.
Almost everything, though, is some form of essay. Some are critical, many are personal, but the essay form prevails.
If I had to start a new blog and could take with me only 10 per cent of what I’d posted here, that would still be over 200 essays. Choosing the best 10 per cent would be challenging. Sure, my writing style is poor in a lot of the early pieces. But there are so many fascinating pieces.
The best 200 would actually be a pretty good body of work. It blows my mind to think about that.
If you’d told me when I started this blog that I’d manage to write 10–12 decent essays year after year, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was so stuck as a writer back in 2004. So mired in failure. So unsure what to even write about.
The question now, of course, is to keep asking what this means and to keep going.