Addicted to novelty since 2001

In 2014, what is my blog for?

Old masthead for DB.com

This site is home to nearly 6000 blog posts. However, this will only be my third blog post of 2014, and only my 20th since the start of 2013. Evidently, my interest in blogging has waned.

Or rather, where I blog has changed. Once, this was the only online space for every notion, idea or discovered link that I wanted to share. No matter how whimsical or thoughtful, half-assed or fully-formed, this was my one-stop shop.

Now, of course, we ‘blog’ everywhere. I use Twitter mostly to share links and silly observations, Facebook for more personal updates, Instagram for photos, Tumblr for occasional unanswerable questions, Reddit or Quora for answerable questions and nerd fights, Pinterest for a peculiar set of stored links and so on. Where there once was one mighty Mackenzie River, now there are many tributaries.

Why don’t I publish here more often?

Maybe, then, this space is now for fully-realized short essays and articles? It is, but over the past year I’ve also published on LinkedIn, Beth Kanter’s blog, Techvibes and the Vancouver Sun, among others. Why didn’t I post those articles here?

To quote The Little Mermaid, I want to go where the people are.

I wanted to access an audience that was not one I could easily reach on DarrenBarefoot.com. Social media, among other trends, has made us an a la carte culture focused on singles, not albums. We dip into this site and that, guided by our peers’ shared links and our own whimsey. Because loyalty to any individual site has lessened, there’s greater value in publishing elsewhere (or maybe everywhere).

I recently published some research results on HootSuite’s blog. My article was shared about 1500 times. Does that same article, published on this site receive that level of attention? Probably not.

Traffic owned by kazillionaires

In the early days of blogging, my peers and I had a firmly-held belief that you were always better off owning your own content, and publishing it on your own site. Changes to the way the web works have nibbled away at that belief.

I’ve talked about this with colleagues on LinkedIn and Facebook (not, notably, on our blogs). From our Facebook conversation (quoted with her permission), Alexandra Samuel asks a related question:

The answer (for almost everyone) will be that you want as many readers as possible, and not just the folks who already know you. But another question is: do we want an Internet where 98% of the traffic and 90% of the traffic is owned by a few kazillionaires, or one where independent content producers can thrive?

Which brings me to Medium, which is the preferred content site du jour for manifestos written by tech sector luminaries and all-around keeners. Buzz Anderson apparently shares my leeriness with the site:

Medium’s reputation reminds me a little of MovableType’s about 10 years ago. It’s the posh alternative to Blogger, the site all the plebs use.

Regardless, it represents the latest bite out of personal sites like this one. But it’s also yet another site where I might publish something.

So, what do I still publish here? Short essays that don’t have an obvious home somewhere else. That sounds like I’m less interested in writing here, but it’s quite the opposite. I enjoy writing the recent articles on this site far more than the contributed articles, which feel far more like work.

Who knows, maybe my interest in this site will be magically reinvigorated? We’ll see.

5 Responses to “In 2014, what is my blog for?”

  1. Boris Mann

    Are you cross-posting those articles here? Would seem like you want an archive of your own for the long term.

    Also, do you find it harder to post here than elsewhere? I post on my own spaces when the friction of the tooling goes down.

    I think you are conflating distribution with where your content lives. If it were me, I’d try for link backs to a permanent copy that lives here.

  2. Shane Birley

    I am with Boris on this.

    I have always supported the idea there should always be a central repository for things that I would like to share online that mean something to me. If followers/fans/randomites access that information on my own site, that makes me smile that they took the time to check out whatever it is that I have posted.

    I have been going through a similar process of questioning where my personal web footprint fits into the overall map of my activities online. In order to facilitate my decision making, I recently blew away my entire website. It has been a refreshing experience and, when I get down to it, my own site will return to being a central place where my thoughts and opinions dwell. I found I was getting sucked up into the “social media” trap. Sharing on social channels tend to be less interactive than we’d like to believe. Sure, there are shares, re-tweets, and all of that — but how much of “real connections” in meat-space do we really track. In my experience, I think the answer is “hardly at all”.

    As for channels like Medium, I think they have a place for sharing of content but, as Boris pointed out, it should be cross posted to your own site as well. The social channels have influenced us “old school bloggers” differently than those who came to it later. We scratched in the dirt and experimented with technology a lot longer than people who use services like Tumblr and nothing else. They adapt to how those systems work but a great many of them would not have the patience nor the inclination to create their own local website community.

    I am broad brushing this, of course, but those are just my quick thoughts on it.

  3. Darren

    Thanks for your comments, both of you.

    Republishing content to my own site may, in some cases, be outside the agreement or bargain I strike with another site when I publish there. Likewise, it can apparently have a negative effect on SEO, though that’s a minor consideration to me.

    For me, it’s not really important that this site be an exhaustive repository of everything I’ve written. Toting up everything I’ve ever written publicly in my life, from technical manuals to this site to our books and everything else, this site probably only contains about half of all my writing. So, it doesn’t seem odd that I occasionally write articles elsewhere and don’t cross-post them here.

  4. Boris Mann

    Totally understand it on the agreement part where you’re not supposed to duplicate all of the content.

    I think running a link blog / asides so we can still see all of Darren in one spot is interesting. Meaning, you can link to content you post elsewhere, but still have a local record of it.

    I’m loving Rands’ new “Asides” http://randsinrepose.com/blog/

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