A Personal History of Blogging

Trying to Understand the Democracy of the Internet

Desk Auditorium | Source

Trying to Understand the Democracy of the Internet

Obligated Preamble

By the fourth day, you come to get into a sense of flow. There’s less pressure to put your best foot forward, and more pressure to just put *anything at all* forward in order to not derail.

There’s a bit more hair-pulling, a bit more chaos. I think the reason for this is other obligations. Such as school and work. It really makes me wonder how people set aside enough time to hash out an entire novel in a month. Is that the purpose of sabbatical? Taking time off always seemed like a weird concept to me.

Anyways, what I do know is that, in spite of having only ninety minutes to write my 1,700ish words for the day, I will still get it done. It’s late at night, anyways. That’s when you get the strong second-wind of motivation. Here’s a great Medium article on the matter:

The Reason You Feel Motivated at Night But Lose It By Morning
It was May in 1930. A man with a fabulous mustache sat upright in his favorite chair, seconds away from dozing off.medium.com

Sure, these posts might seem negligible. But in my mind, there’s a bigger picture to all of these little articles. Dots that can be connected later to something larger and more meaningful. It’s far easier to just write these little posts rather than plunge into the ice-cold waters of a *big* project. It’s also far better to write these than to write nothing at all. The middle ground between the two, if you will.

An Aside: Summary

November Writing, so far:

  • Day One, I talked about NaNoWriMo and how I’m rebelling against it.

  • Day Two, I talked about why I find it important to write.

  • Day Three, I talked about how I structure my writing and gave helpful tips.

On day four, well to be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure yet.
Transitioning from one or two articles per month to writing a complete one each day is a challenge.
It forces you to stop relying on well-used crutches.
Publishing things out into the world that you wouldn’t otherwise.

I have a few articles already half-written, half-baked ideas that would be easy to finish. But I keep finding myself starting something new each day. As though I’m enticed by a blank canvas and doing the work. Maybe I’m just going crazy.

Blogging & Mr. Rehak

Blogging has been something I’ve always an odd passion for. I blame that on my 5th and 6th grade teacher, Mr. Rehak. When I really think about it, he shaped my life in a rather large way.

Rehak was a huge geek — back in the days where it wasn’t cool to be one. Every single day after lunch, we would read for an hour to the tunes of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. He would try to engage our young, meager class in political and philosophical discussions. Usually unsuccessfully — but it was still fun.

Most importantly though, was his interest in fringe technology. Back when smart phones didn’t exist and when MySpace did. He loved free and open-source software. Recording our nonsensical short stories we wrote with Audacity. Creating liberally-creative visual presentations with Openoffice Impress.

Where would these priceless creations of children’s imagination be placed? That’s where blogging comes in. Rehak created a Blogger for our class, which we took turns posting various musings and reflections on.

This kind of idea that has gotten far more popular over the years in classrooms — in a lot of ways, Mr. Rehak was ahead of his time.

While the blog itself was pretty silly (amazingly, it’s still online), I could understand the larger implications. It empowered the ability for anybody to share their thoughts and creations to a global audience. It empowered the ability for the audience to directly communicate.

The way Gutenberg gave everybody the power to read, the Internet gave everybody the power to write.

The Present

It’s been over a decade since then. And my idealism of a democratic Internet giving everybody an equal voice has barely faded. However, something I understand now is that blogging is a commodity. There’s a system to it — there’s a game to it.

To say I’m not a popular writer is an understatement. Allow me, if you will, to analyze the current statistics for the work I’ve published in the past few months. Boring and tedious? Sure, but I think introspection is important — and that the boring things in life need to be meditated on.

When I look at the stats for my stories, I can count the amount of people who’ve read my articles in full on one hand. This is honestly a little perplexing — a year ago I was receiving far more engagement (a fancy marketing term for the combination of views, likes, and feedback). And those stories were far more self-centered.

I wasn’t at all thinking about how to benefit the reader, I was just writing what I wanted to write. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I feel as though I’ve improved contrary to the empirical evidence before me.

Medium has changed. It’s more akin to the New Yorker than WordPress. People, I suppose, want to read stories by internet-famous people.

This does not really concern me — I’ve been planning to launch an independent blog before I looked at the analytics. Why am I still here, though? I think it’s because of the lack of audience, I don’t feel bound to anything in particular.

Medium is just a place where I can stash my assortment of writings. It doesn’t really come across as a blog. There’s no need for me to stick to a niche, or keep a status quo to migrate server costs. It’s all here, freely.

Having a quote-unquote real blog is a bit scary — the stakes are far higher. The logistics are larger and more complex. Everything has to be scheduled and marketed, editorial plans need to be made, keywords need to be micromanaged.

There’s a real actual job when it comes to blogging that’s outside of just writing. Since blogging is a commodity, it’s usually an extension to something larger. A means of luring people to a product or service which they would pay money for. Marketing → Sales.

On one hand, this capitalistic approach seems cynical and money-hungry. On the other, it entices people (companies slash brands) to create good work in order to garner trust in people. There’s such a thing as a good salesperson. Not good as in talented, but good as in a strong heart that actually cares. Maybe that’s just my idealism, though.

Meaning?

There’s no real takeaway here. No lesson, no actionable content. Just a story and insights I thought I’d share. A bit more of that old-school kind of blogging. The perspective that writing should have a use to others is harsh, and even Machiavellian.

It’s impossible to actually know if anything you create will be utilized the way you think it will be. I’ve been hit with inspiration from media in ways I know were wholly incorrect. But that doesn’t matter. The creator’s intent doesn’t matter. That’s the power of the audience. To create meaning wherever you see fit.

Anyways, I’m going to bed. So I think I’ll end it there. Stay tuned for more questionable writing tomorrow.

Current Word Count: 6,575