Seems like a good time for one of my occasional State Of The Blog posts. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to have to learn a new address or anything like that.
Overall, I think the move to WordPress and server space I own has been a good one. There haven’t been any downtimes, at least that I’ve noticed. While you haven’t seen major changes, I do like having the freedom to do whatever I want to the blog, free from the limits imposed by hosted services. There have been some minor hiccups, like the e-mail notifications of new comments not working at times. There was a week when there were 4-5 new comments but I had no idea because I rely on the e-mail function to let me know they’re out there. As you may recall, one of my reasons for moving the blog was so I could eventually completely control the look of it. With that in mind, I was working through a coding for the web book so I could put my own WordPress theme together. Well, that kind of stalled out. It’s been months since I cracked the book open, so whenever I do decide to tackle it again, I’m going to have to start from the beginning. I have a big reading project lined up for the fall, so I would imagine I won’t make another attempt until early 2010.
Fortunately, I really like the theme I’m using now and am comfortable using it for the foreseeable future.
You’ve probably noticed I’ve been linking to a lot more articles lately than in the past. That’s for a couple reasons. First, I’ve revamped my RSS reading habits and sucked in a lot of new feeds that are providing some fun stuff to share. Second, I recently read an article about Peter Merholz, one of the men who is credited with coining the term blog. He said that he is a little disappointed by what the blogosphere has become. He wasn’t looking to create an environment where everyone and their mother dropped 3000 words about the latest American Idol or the kinds of people that piss them off. Rather, he was looking to build a system where people would repost interesting links they found during their web explorations, adding their own brief commentary. A lot of my favorite blogs feature not only top-notch writing, but excellent links to other articles of interest.
So I’ve been trying to share more of the interesting stuff I run across each day. However, one thing does kind of bug me: there’s no quick way for my readers to differentiate the posts that are all (or mostly) my writing from those that are just links. Maybe no one other than me cares, but there should be an easy identifier that separates the original material from the linked items. Again, many of my favorite blogs use some kind of icon to ID either links or original work. For example, the fantastic <a href=”http://daringfireball.net/”>Daring Fireball</a> uses a circled white star, ✪, to flag the author’s work. The symbol is also used at the end of each post.
The easy thing would be to bite DF’s style and go with the same symbol. I think it’s kind of awesome; I bought a DF shirt I like it so much. But, on the off chance one of my dozens of readers actually reads DF, I’d hate to be seen as a thief. After much consideration of the various symbols available that appear to be unicode – and thus platform/browser agnostic – I’ve decided that all my original material will include a ❖ , also known as a black diamond minus white x,* in the subject line. In addition, all posts will end with the symbol. Unless I forget.
There’s no great meaning behind the symbol, at least that I’m aware of. It’s just easily identifiable and fairly classy. I like classy things. If I had more design experience, I suppose I create my own little logo. But who am I kidding? If I can’t get through an HTML book, I’m not going to dig out my InDesign notes from grad school.
Of course there’s also the dilemma about exactly what makes a post a link post vs. something that is my own. For example, I have a draft that I’m debating whether to post or not that is built around a link to an interesting web site. But, because it relates to a controversial issue, I have a 500 work intro stating my views on the subject. I don’t know that there’s a definitive threshold, but a paragraph or two feels right. Since I’m pretty sure very few of you care about such distinctions, I trust none of you will call me on it if I don’t rigidly adhere to that standard.
Just for fun, here are some of the other symbols I considered:
This is also a fine time to thank my dozens of loyal readers for sticking with me and indulging all my silly obsessions for the occasional post that actually resonates with you. Your readership means a lot to me.