So I’ve been “blogging” since March 2001. When I look at the first year or two from the vantage point of being 32 and not 22 or 23, all I can think is, “I wish that we’d had Twitter back then. That stuff would work better in short form.” Most of us say this about old work: the writing’s terrible, the thoughts are poorly-formed, the opinions have changed. This is all true, especially for me.
I sometimes wonder why I keep writing in this space, but I come down to the same answers:
- I’m writing for a future version of me, the one who was interested in what I was thinking then. My opinions on things have changed in so many ways, and it’s interesting to go back and look at why I thought what I did back then, or perhaps to look at the fact that I had little basis for the point argued.
- I write to remember, because I will forget. I write publicly because I’ve proven time and again that I will not write privately on a consistent basis. I’ve even proven this in the last six months as I’ve come out of the deepest depression of my life and through the only extended time of unemployment I’ve ever known. I haven’t really written a lot since then, and I suppose that’s good, because there’s not a lot of the last six months that I want to remember.
- I write to say that I’m still here, still kicking, and still thinking. I don’t want any of that to change.
Sometime in late 2011 or early 2012, I will have had a public, self-controlled online presence where I publish personal items for a third of my life. That’s awesome.
The amount of time that I have given to thinking about comments on this site, in comparison to the number of actually worthwhile comments, is pretty staggering. My ideal audience for this site is still me, and perhaps my mom. [Mom would probably like me to use less profanity.] One of the issues I’ve run into with site comments in the past—far more here than in other places—is that the noise rapidly drowns out the signal. Administrator curation of comments isn’t going to work for a lot of sites, but I bet it’s going to work for this one.
Anytime you talk about comment moderation, you raise the hackles of the “information wants to be free! I have a right to free speech!” crowd. I wholeheartedly believe in information and speech freedoms, but I don’t have to let you express those freedoms here in my space. It’s like my good friend Noah Grey liked to say about his site: consider it his living room, and act accordingly. You’ve got a right to your speech on your terms, and I have zero requirement to let you have it here. It’s that simple.
Honestly, given the proliferation of Twitter and Facebook, I’m beginning to think that commenting directly on blogs is on the wane. Today’s tossed-off link is 2004’s me-too. Blog comments made sense in a world where you couldn’t easily reply on your own terms, but the explosion of self-expression platforms has muted that as a concern. Now people seem to shill for comments in some validation of their popularity.
Thinking about this does make me think about my own propensity to comment ad infinitum on things friends post. I should be more intentional about such things …
… when you look at the theme on your site and go, “Man, that text is too small.” Anyhow, new theme installed and all that. That header comes from a photo I took back last March. I’ve used that as a background on my site before. A 940×198 crop of Andy O playing his guitar last March was my runner up; guess I’d have to crop that to just the body of the guitar, though.
My vision’s fine, though. It’ll go downhill around the time I hit 40, but hey, I’m not even 32 yet. There’s still time for me to revel in my better-than-20/20 vision before those decades of mocking the other nerds for their glasses come back to bite me in the ass. [Hey, we needed some levity around here.]
So, what I’ve decided to do is not close down my linkdumps; enough people find value in them to keep it going. I guess this question was raised, in part, by my desire to have something that enriched my readers a bit more. Well, I think I’ve come across what I’ll do: a Sunday linkdump of longer-form reading. These are the really interesting things I’ve found on the Web this week, powered by Instapaper, which I use to digest long-form Web reading for later perusal.
- The Most Hated Name in News [walrusmagazine.com]. It’s a 2009 look into Al-Jazeera English, which I went into the article thinking I wouldn’t like but now find myself wanting to watch it some.
- The Data-Driven Life [nytimes.com], an overview of the concept of self-tracking that Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf call The Quantified Self. This left me wanting to find more ways to effortlessly track myself. I’ve actually been using one for the last week or so, but that’s for a separate post.
- Debt: The First Five Thousand Years [longnow.org]. A brief history of debt in its societal forms, which seems to oscillate between virtual and commodity money. I am no Ron Paul, back-to-the-gold-standard person, by any regard. The key point, though, is that periods of virtual money are coincidental to periods of overarching societal institutions. I would really love to read a lot, lot more on this subject.
- Too Weird for The Wire [washingtonmonthly.com]. Baltimore-area drug dealers/murderes ended up using a defense tactic used by … the KKK. No, really.
- Goldman Sachs, Obama, and Wall Street reform [newyorker.com]. One of many pieces these days about the mess we’re in, it strongly points out that we won’t get out of this quickly, either. Up my alley after reading The Big Short.
I’m a fan of starting over … beginning anew … trying again. I think that it’s one of those important things that we do in life.
As a result, I’m starting over here. I’ve never been a great adherent to the what-goes-where school of thought with managing all these Weblogs, partially because I’ve never had great focus for any one of them. I’ve been thinking about what I do [and don’t do] here in this space, and I think I’ve finally found a focus: looking forward, looking back.
This certainly means that some of the entries will stay. Some of them, though, need to go, to be moved other places. I’ll accomplish that in the next week or so, powered by some SQL-fu and some awesomeness thanks to John Godley’s Redirection plugin for WordPress.
Thanks for the patience and for being a part of it.
Let’s see if my WP upgrade broke anything … if not, I’ll start rolling this out everywhere …
I’ve done some minor work on the stylesheet over the last few months, but I finally broke down tonight and spent a half-hour putting together a category template for the theme here. Yeah, I’m lazy. 😉
I figure that I’ll finally finish a full theme for this site and then be completely ready for a new look soon thereafter.
I’m calling the present state of GFMorris.com’s layout Version 1.1. Added since you last viewed the site:
- Gravatars in comments. This isn’t a requirement; if you don’t have one, a silhouette shows up beside your posts. Since I require user registration, though, I thought this would be a nice little thing to do.
You can sign up for a Gravatar at gravatar.com. I’ve tried to install Mark Jacquith’s Gravatar Signup Plugin, but, as Mark notes, you have to have cookies cleared for this to work. Yes, I’ve already made a suggestion for adding a Dashboard page to the plugin to present the form to users who’ve already registered on that Weblog; if you’re already logged in, you can’t see the signup form; if you’re logged out, you won’t be presented the signup form. It’s a hell of a catch-22!
- I upgraded just now to v1.5 of Mark’s Gravatar Signup, and that should put things right; you can ignore all the struck-out stuff above now. Thanks, Mark! If you’re a logged-in user and don’t see the “Sign up for a Gravatar!” text with a checkbox beside it, please let me know …
- Alternating comment background colors, with borders. I figured that it made the comments easier to follow as one was reading them. I should probably look into some PHP-fu to output some XHTML that I could style with CSS that recognizes when it’s me commenting and not you, and then have it present my comment with a different background color. [If that didn’t make sense, just look at the pretty colors.]
- Comment numbering was removed. I like having comments in a numbered list, but I find that my readers can count, thankyouverymuch.
- Speaking of lists, they’re now better formatted in entries, too.
At some point, I’ll work even more on making this layout more theme-like, but I’ve already spent way too much of my Sunday mucking with this.
Update: We’re now to 1.1.1, with Comment Quicktags added and the comment entry area restyled a bit.
Okay, it’s time to eat my own dog food. I’ve been openly campaigning for user-registration systems for logware for almost a year, and now that WordPress has an option for users to register themselves … so I’m going to enable it. I’m even going to take the Draconian step of requiring users to register to be able to comment.
You may feel free to complain about this policy … after you’ve registered for an account. 🙂
I’m going to take a whirl at upgrading GFMorris.com to WP 1.5 and reformatting my present “styling”, such as it is, to the new theming system.
Things will look wonkeriffic for a while while I make the change.
Update: Well, hell, that was easy.