Tag Archives: blogging

Bye Bye Croisan Views

10 Mar

This is not the first blog I’ve abandoned. That would be Words at http://www.markeveretthall.com, an experiment I conducted many years ago. I created Words to post some of my old published essays and to play with Apple’s iWeb software, the worst blogging tool I’ve worked with by far. I learned what I could and then, like so many other people, moved on to other things.

In addition to Words and now this, I’ve also dropped two other blogs. One, Sanity as a Service, was for Computerworld and the other ran at TG Daily. Both companies were paying me enough to post regularly, then they changed the deals, so I stopped writing for them.

From the start, Croisan Views was a different kettle of fish. I began it less than eleven months ago with a specific goal: quit after 100 posts or one year, whichever comes first. This is my 100th post.

Millions of individuals have started blogs, then tossed them away for various reasons. Gartner Inc., the market research firm, estimated that as many as 200 million blogs may have been left to rot on the side of the Information Superhighway. As you know, that doesn’t mean there’s a blog famine ahead. WordPress, which hosts Croisan Views (and is the best tool I’ve used to manage a blog), alone has 18 million blogs. Blogger, LiveJournal, Xanga, and other sites offer millions upon millions more.

Some bloggers approach their task as if it were a never-ending story, infinite in scope, not unlike the Internet itself. That’s why so many blogs get abandoned by their authors. The work becomes too daunting after the initial rush of good feeling upon seeing their work online. That feeling can give way to despair once the deathly silence of the worldwide web envelops the blog.

Most successful blogs are tightly focused. Whether on technology, politics, baseball, or whatever, they reflect the passions and obsessions of their creators. But I wanted Croisan Views to reflect my overall life during the time I wrote it; a general-interest blog that detailed things that I did as well as the world as I saw it. Yet, I thought the blog should be more than a public airing of my personal diary, something I’ve kept since the 1970s. Admittedly, this strategy is not a recipe for an overwhelmingly successful blog. But it made it a pleasure to write.

As I’ve noted before, I am a numbers-obsessed fella. In addition to my personal output target of 100 posts, I wanted to generate a modicum of traffic to Croisan Views. I thought 5,000 unique visitors in a year was reasonable. I surpassed that number early last month. Lately, I’ve been averaging about 200 people per week, up from around 50 this past autumn.

Getting people to my site was not easy. I lacked an established third-party source, such as Computerworld, to manufacture attention to the blog. I never paid a dime to any SEO company or expert to develop a plan for adding more visitors. Growth, such as it was, was all organic. From its launch last April, it took nearly two months until Google, Bing, and Yahoo began to index Croisan Views. Search engines drive about half the people to this blog. Twitter, where my @Croisan existed until last month, as well as my Facebook account delivered a small, steady number of folks. But it was Reddit and StumbleUpon, which I just started using in January, that gave me the biggest bumps in unique visitors. Although my old blog editor at Computerworld says it’s the top source for her operations, I never used Digg because I find the service tedious.

Choosing accompanying art, as we print-publishing people call any image associated with a story, was one of the more difficult parts of the blog process. I want it to connect in some way to the specific post, but I was limited in my store of images. Virtually every photograph on the blog was taken by me, although my friend Klaus Herzberger snapped the one of me in the Alps and I’ve used public domain images on a couple occasions. Of course, David Leishman generously provided me with magazine covers from his magnificent collection, which I’ve used from time to time.

Croisan Views has been a joy and a burden. As I noted with my post about quitting microblogging at Twitter, keeping a blog is time consuming. Finding good links, responding to comments, choosing and cropping photos, and simply coming up with new ideas and then writing and editing them all take up hours each week. The volume of work I produced here would fill a small book if printed.

I’m glad Croisan Views is done, though I suspect I’ll miss it. I hope in some small way, you will, too.

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The Diary vs. the Blog

26 Jun

The diaries I kept from 1972-1974, thankfully, have been destroyed. By me. What drivel. Correction: what pretentious drivel.

In those days I fancied myself a political activist and set down in my journals the thin gruel of my political thinking. Screeds on Nixon and Watergate. Ravings about the military-industrial complex and the Vietnam War. Clueless babble about racism. Not that any of it was wrong. But it was lame, lazy, and lamentable prose.

Years later, when scanning old diaries in search of a date or place or person from my past, I re-read some entries from those years and shuddered at the idea that someone other than me could potentially peruse them. Wisdom prevailed over ego and I ripped them apart. At the time, despite never having read them, my wife said I’d regret the rash act. Not yet. One of the smartest moves I’ve ever made.

Since those callow years as a diarist, I’ve improved as a writer and have become a bit less enamored with my political insights, using my personal journals now to jot down events in my life and those who I care about the most. As such, my diaries are more useful for fact-checking my memory and less of an embarrassment.

On occasion, while glimpsing old entries, I will find a rant or a foolhardy notation that I regret. If it’s terrible, I will rip the page from the journal. But at least I no longer encounter entire years that deserve destruction.

Keeping a diary, especially doing so for decades, probably reveals a profound defect in my psyche. At least I know I am not alone. Many obscure people like me keep a personal journal to contain their thoughts and experiences. Even kids keep them.

Some bloggers treat their posts like a diary entry. There are even blog templates to appeal to such writers. But most bloggers do not write in diary form. I certainly don’t. There’s a huge difference in writing for an online audience, no matter how small, and writing for your eyes alone. A diary entry is less rigorous, more spontaneous than a blog post. It only seeks to entertain or edify its author. Perhaps the writer believes posterity is looking over his or her shoulder, but it is not very likely. Whereas a blog entry can, by happenstance, get read and commented on by others. Arguably, that is the blogger’s goal: get noticed and get a discussion going.

Not the diarist. The last thing I want is to wake up in the morning and see an ongoing debate scrawled by others in my private journal about my previous day’s observations. I am my own harsh diary critic. I don’t need others to tell me when I suck at it.