or, at least not a bad idea.
Amy Gahran over at Contentious wrote a nice article entitled Why Daily Blogging Usually Is a Bad Idea which raised some very good points. But, in true contrarian fashion, I find that my reasons for blogging are somewhat different than hers, and therefore I come to somewhat different conclusions.
Amy claims that we are drowning in information overload. She’s right of course. There is a ton of information out there. I monitor about 120 weblogs (used to be 150, but I trimmed a few that turned out to seldom generate posts which were of interest to me). Using Bloglines, that’s about as many as I can muster. I figure I spend about an hour and a half of my day reading blogs instead of spending it watching American Idol or the latest reality TV show.
Amy clamors for quality. It would be great if there was more of it, but then she goes on to say:
The only reason anyone should publish anything is that they have something worth saying – something that their target audience will probably value.
Fine sounding words, but somewhat different than my philosophy. Frankly, I have no idea what the average visitor to my website finds of interest. I know that I get about 300 of them each day. I can monitor keywords that they use to find me with search engines. I can see how many repeat downloaders I have for my podcasts. I can try to gather all sorts of information, but really, when all is said and done, I have simply no idea who the visitors are.
Given that I don’t know who they are, how could I possibly judge what pieces that I choose to write about are of value?
So instead, I write my blog for me.
It includes things that I find of interest, and if you look at my weblog, you know that I find all sorts of things to be interesting. There are a couple of themes (intellectual property, independent media and the like) but there are also rants about baseball, books I’ve read, trends in computer gaming, bits of computer music that a couple of my regulars might enjoy, just a vast potpourri.
Is any of it of value? Almost certainly yes. I was talking to somehow who found my recent link to Jef Poskanzer’s treatise on spam to be very useful in helping him design a new router project that he’s selling. I didn’t know this particular piece would be of value: I just thought it was interesting.
Most of the time I have no idea what posts are going to tickle people’s fancy. Some of the things that I most enjoy gather nary a peep from my listeners. Some of the things that I barely care about seem to generate the most traffic to my site. I simply can’t tell when I first get an idea for a posting what category they fall into.
So, I’ve stopped trying, and merely post everything that pops into my head.
Amy also tells us to not overestimate our own importance. Believe me, I am suffering from no delusion that my blog is important to anyone but myself. If anyone else finds it interesting, useful or inspiring, then that’s just gravy. In my weaker moments, I stare at graphs and wonder why particular days seem to have more traffic, and go back and look at what I talked about and ponder the notion of doing more of that, but I quickly get bored by that prospect. My own intellectual endeavors tend to skip and leap, and therefore, so do my blog entries. Trying to sculpt or optimize my blog entries to chase some popularity points ultimately bores me. Even the relentless pursuit of quality ultimately bores me.
My philosophy of blogging is simple. Blog if you want to. Blog when you want to. Blog for whatever reason you want to. When someone says “don’t blog if you’re not willing to do X”, then ignore them. Somebody in the long tail will find something interesting in what you have to say. Don’t make it harder for them to find it.