The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

one year old!
Wow, where did the time go? This here blog is one year old today! Hard to believe it's been that long; I still feel like a rookie (and I suppose I am).

One year isn't an awfully long time, but as you can see from the inaugural post back on 8/19/2002, the style of this blog has evolved a bit:

I pretty much expect this to be a random rambling of my thoughts and observations at the moment, with a more fully-formed essay thrown in there every now and again. A lot of thoughts run through my brain, some good, some great, some pointless, and some just downright bizarre. Since I'm online alot, chances are pretty good that I'll be posting a good chunk of them right here; so hold onto your hats!

"Hold onto your hats"--ugh! Chalk it up to opening-night jitters. Yeah, that's it.

My original intent was to do a little bit of everything that's associated with blogging: Some commentary on current events, some wisecracking on same events, some personal journaling. Since I was trying it after a long period of observing other samples from the blogosphere, I felt like I should attempt to write in a variety of different voices and formats, if only to see how comfortable I'd be at it. Throwing open these musings to the World Wide Web audience was alsoa big part of the equation, and I was looking forward to the feedback I'd get. Finally, I intended for this blog to be a repository of the various hyperlinks I always come across, along with my thoughts on them.

After one year, the end result--and to a certain extent, this blog is still evolving, so perhaps characterizing it as an "end result" is a bit inaccurate--hasn't been quite what I envisioned.

For one, I haven't dwelled on a great deal of deep personal stuff, mainly because I've felt rather awkward in doing so in this format. Partly, that's because I know my writing here is going out to a group of strangers, and while that can be a liberating feeling in one sense, in another it's inhibiting. I mean, no offense, but I don't know you people. From what I've gathered, my offline friends and family read this blog only occasionally, if at all, so it's not like I'm going to write a whole lot for an infrequent audience. Plus, I'm sure anything of that nature will be appreciated much more coming from me "live", i.e. not on a website.

Related to that, I've found that, for myself, the blog format just doesn't lend itself particularly well to long-form essay writing. I'm not saying you can't write a lengthy, well-structured piece on anything you care to--fiction, opinion, commentary, reminscences, etc. But for some reason, I can't, not on this blog. It could be due to something as simple as the layout, the font, the background colors. It could be that, as has often been suggested, content on the web isn't meant to be presented or consumed in traditional long form, but rather as shorter, bite-sized morsels--and for the most part, that's the type of stuff I offer up on this site every day. I'd say I was also influenced by my parent blogs, Memepool and WHUMP DOT COM, both of which specialize in mainly quicky entries loaded with links.

Keeping in mind that I still approach this blog as a casual endeavor, it feels about right. After all, I'm not getting paid for this--that's why the best, usable stuff is reserved for my paycheck jobs.

The repository function of this site, as described best here, in a discussion of Vannevar Bush's Memex machine, has and hasn't come to pass. It has, in the sense that my impressions on a particular news story have been preserved in the archives. But fundamentally, the reliance of a blog like this--or just about any website--on external hyperlinks that, in most cases, have a limited shelf life, in a way dooms it. I'd like to build something here that will last for years, that I could look back on decades from now and get a pretty complete picture of what was going on when I was writing and ruminating. I realize that the nature of nomadic data means that it would be a neat trick for these scribblings to survive long-term, but still, it's depressing to me to consider that, probably, at least half of the link I planted on these pages are irretrievably broken. (This is a chief reason why you'll rarely, if ever, see a post on here that simply says, "[link]Check this out[/link]"; I know that there's no guarantee that the hyperlink is going to be good in even a day's time, therefore a post like that, without any supporting commentary, is pretty pointless to archive.)

I don't want to make this sound like a total drag. Overall, I'm satisfied with what I've done here. I like that I've made myself stick to a daily writing schedule; that the writing is not always top-calibre is beside the point. It's rarely ever a chore; in fact, I'm more often frustrated that I can't write more here. So, I think I've gained something useful out of this.

Do I want to keep going? For now, yes. I'm thinking the end will be abrupt; I don't like drawn-out goodbyes. But for the time being, I'll continue the daily routine. It might not be on this URL, but that's something for the future. I don't anticipate much of a change.

In closing: I'd like to point out that the very first link I posted, on the endangered tree octopus, is still live. That's gotta mean something, right?