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Why host and write a blog? (tbray.org)
115 points by aangjie 1796 days ago | hide | past | web | 17 comments | favorite

A trend I've been seeing on HN recently is a sixth reason:

  6. Promotion
This is especially from technology firms which wants to get their brand out to their target group and also show off their knowledge in hip new technologies.

It's easy to spot them, since they often have a "Oh, and i forgot to tell you: 'We're hiring!'" at the end of the articles.

IMHO, promotion would fall under #3 "Influence".

I don't have a blog, but I write a lot. That's why I could relate to many points raised by this author. However, something was missing.

In my opinion, if you don't write to better understand how you think, you're dead wood. No one can better relate with your brain than yourself, and writing helps that relation grow.

Also, that helps improve your coding skills too. As you better understand how your thinking process works, so your understanding of how to solve coding related problems.

Anyway, in the end there's always someone interested in learning from other's experiences, as long they are a bit enlightening or entertaining.

Anyway, I should start blogging just to write more. :)

>In my opinion, if you don't write to better understand how you think, you're dead wood.

Can't agree more. that's pretty much what got me into writing back in my teens. But i have found that without reading,thinking and making connections, it's kinda monotonous and you stop writing. Recently found 750words.com and enjoy the interface(mine's black bg with white text). Infact, last 3 months i have written 50K+ words on that site. I hear mac guys can use ommwriter, but linux user here.

__ my only current gripe being having to store it on someone's server. think i'll build a open-source package.

I like Matt Hempey's take on the problem:

  blog blog blog it all, blog it if it's big or small
  blog at the cineplex, blog while you're having sex
  blog in the locker room, babies blogging in the womb
  blog even if you're wrong, won't you blog about this song?

"I’m convinced that medium/long-form writing’s future is unthreatened; but remain puzzled that nobody in new media has really figured out the elite-curation story and created a place that you go, and then subscribe to with real money, because that’s where you have a high chance of being entertained, influenced, and informed."

It seems like Svbtle may be going after exactly what you describe here, although it's unclear whether it will be free or paid at this point.

It seemed strange to me that the author would conclude that this is what they expect to happen. If the goal is influence, wouldn't you want the share-ability of free? Then again, if you convince enough influential people to subscribe to your thoughts, and they can share amongst themselves, maybe that nets you even more influence.

I like this post, but I think he leaves out one potential issue: conversation. We learn a lot through conversing with others, and while I don't think blogging will take the place of chat any more than books or newspapers did, I think it does supplement nicely; I wrote some more about this here: https://jseliger.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/signaling-status-b... , since I a) write a blog and b) am by now a veteran of the "How and why to blog" blog posts, which have practically become their own genre.

Most of all, however, I don't think most people blog to inform others: they blog to inform themselves, since writing is such an effective means of stimulating thinking.

I'm not sure why I started.

I like writing, but when someone says he or she reads my blog, I'm a bit freaked out. I mean... I did a couple interesting stuff, wrote a couple articles here and there, but... It always feels weird. Other forms of online discussions took away a lot of the energy and effort I used to put into my blog and, gradually, I mostly stopped.

Oddly enough, today I pulled down a copy of it. I'll start moving it to Plone 4. Since it runs on an ancient version, 2.5 tops, my hosting provider would be very happy if I migrated it to something less... anachronistic.

I will migrate it, of course. And possibly continue posting articles on it. But I don't see myself investing as much time and energy on it as I did 10 years ago.

Interesting to see the original question. "Where is the New Yorker of the internet?" I don't see any reasonable online outlets (in English) to publish, say, one long article every two month. You cannot build a self-contained blog around that format, and there is no infrastructure to do it otherwise.

There has been a a period of time where all the Web 2.0 hipsters relentlessly bashed anything with editorial control as outdated, bad, unnecessary and so on. (Which is kind of ironic, considering the whole movement was started by a publisher.) That's part of the reason why, I think.

Another reason us to create a diary of sorts. At least for me I wish I had a record of things learnt I could read over some years later and if some other people can also read and discuss all the better..

In my opinion, writing and hosting a blog serves several purposes. One, to hone my writing chops. Two, to express my own ideas in my own way... because it's my own "house" online. Three, I've actually landed some fairly lucrative client opportunities because of my blog. Four, it gives me a "home base" content repository from which to draw other ideas, participate in other discussions etc...

There are others, but these are the main ones.

Anyone having good tips/experience on getting your blog popular? From day one you start writing and without proper "advertise" you can keep writing for couple months before anyone swings along your page. I would love to start blog, but thinking Im shouting out loud in a vacuum for months really discourages me from even starting...

I actually think this is much easier today than it used to be. Write something good, then tweet about it / Facebook it / share it on LinkedIn / post it to Hacker News. You don't need a big audience of pre-existing subscribers to get something good in front of a lot of people any more.

But I thought all these "tech gods" were telling us books were garbage and just dead tree propaganda and that blogs were the only way we should learn anything. Now we shouldn't have blogs, we should just try to piece together knowledge from a few tweets and a couple YouTube videos? You guys are getting ridiculous!

I agree that "medium/long-form writing's future is unthreatened", but I'm less sure that blogs are the answer long-term. They're one particular way of publishing, which has pros and cons. Blogs' strengths are: a relatively low barrier to entry, a convenient way for regular readers to follow updates, and not much overhead in thinking about how to maintain a "website" in the traditional sense. Everything is just a new blog post, and at most you slap a few tags on them. Blogs' weaknesses are a strong focus on recency and lack of content organization. Everything is about the recent blog posts. Archives are often hard to use, and many blogs freely mix long-lasting things like essays, with short-form daily-life types of things or comments on current events with a short shelf-life.

An alternative is to separate out several kinds of writing. Paul Graham has an 'essays' page, for example, which is sort of like a blog, but less focused on timeliness and updates. Only essays get posted there, and the focus is not primarily on which essay is most recent (old essays don't quickly scroll off the main page into the archive, for example).

In my own writing, I've come to the conclusion that if I had a blog, it would contain two main kinds of entries: 1) essays I've written, and 2) references to interesting things I've seen written elsewhere. At least for my personal interests, I would prefer those to be separate, and also would prefer them to take more of the flavor of "building a website" rather than "updating a blog". That is, the focus is on the accumulated content, which you can read in any order, not necessarily the order I happened to add it. This is partly because I suspect most people who will run across it aren't ardent mjn fans waiting for my latest update.

So what I've done is have two sections:

1. Essays, which are organized primarily by subject rather than date, but do also have an RSS feed and show recent additions at the top, for my friends/acquaintances/colleagues who might read regularly: http://www.kmjn.org/notes/

2. Snippets/clippings, where I collect interesting excerpts I've run across. If I had a blog, these would get interspersed with the long-form posts, but I prefer having them separate in a sort of digital scrapbook, for the moment fairly unorganized: http://www.kmjn.org/snippets/

I'm not saying that method is the best organizational method either, but so far I like it more than a blog. I suppose part of it is that my thinking on online writing is still heavily influenced by some of the 80s/90s hypertext ideas, and "maintaining a website" versus "blogging". Websites often had an /updates.html page where you could see what was recently added, but that wasn't the main interface. The main interface had some kind of rational organization, rather than assuming reverse chronological order of addition is the universal organizational framework.

I noticed a similar usage in my case too. that's two different type of writings. 1. Medium sized thoughts/posts(not really essays, just a few connections i made while reading.around 500 words or so.) and 2. Pithy 1 or 2 sentence comment along with a link. The latter cases tend to be posted usually from my phone.

On blog, not being a good place for long-form writing. I have begun to realize that, i should write the long-forms without thinking about the publishing medium to pay attention to the meaningful long-form. Infact hate a MS Word s/w for the same reason. and even writing on my 750words page is mostly just a brain dump not coherent. Think vim might be best chance at focused long-form writing.

-- Disclaimer: not an expert in long form essay writings.

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