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April 11, 2006

The First 100 Days: Observations of a Nouveau Blogger

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I've been a blogger for a whopping 100 days, and it's been a delightful and educational experience. Some readers (Omer Trajman, in particular) asked me share my observations about my blogging experience, so here goes:

1. The more popular a person thinks he is in the blogosphere, the thinner his skin and the thicker his hypocrisy. This should be exactly the opposite: the higher you go the thicker the skin and thinner the hypocrisy.

2. The more a blogger uses the pronoun “I,” the less he has to say. Many bloggers apparently believe that people not only give a shiitake about everything they say, but that these people are hanging on to every word.

3. There are three kinds of bloggers: human newsbots (is this an oxymoron?), ranters, and essayists. Each kind is an art form. The third category, the essayists, might be the most difficult kind of blogging, and unfortunately, the category I aspire to. It's a good thing I have eight books to plagiarize. (Two “I”s in one paragraph!)

4. Not to be sexist, but some men make the blog, and some blogs make the man.

5. An expert who blogs is more interesting than a blogger who experts.

6. Blogging technology is a piece of cake. TypePad powers my blog, and this product is very well done. Plus, almost all the things that one would want a blog to do are (a) available and (b) free--or very cheap. For example, Ecto, Endo, FeedBlitz, StatCounter, BlogFlux, NetNewsWire, Feedburner, and FreeFind. The only two things that I can't find are:

  • An automatically-generated table of contents. “Recent posts” only puts up the last ten posts. I need something that will go back to the very beginning.
  • I want to do a “Dear Abby” column in which people post questions, and I answer. These can't be comments tied to a specific post because they would get buried. I'd like to create an archive of questions and answers that people can search. I looked at a couple of Wiki products, but I didn't have the mental energy to adapt them to my needs.

7. The vast majority of people who read my blog are kind, helpful, and intelligent. One, Thomas Kang, voluntarily proofreads for me. Sometimes readers will even write software for you: for example, three people offered to create a page counter that resets itself daily since I couldn't find one. (This is what you see as Kuba Choinski's “KubaKounter” on my blog.) A big cheese at TypePad also wrote a Widget for me that cause links to automatically open new pages.

How cool is this?! With this whole Widget thing in TypePad, maybe someone will create Widgets that create a table of contents and a “Dear Abby” column.

8. A tiny amount of people who read my blog are clueless. My favorites are the ones who complain about four things: the top-ten format; the bulleted-list format; the long length of my posts; and my plugs for stuff that I like. This is akin to going into a sushi bar and complaining that it serves raw fish. That's what a sushi bar does. Long top tens, bulleted lists, essays, and evangelism are what I do.

I especially love the people who threaten to stop reading my blog unless I stop doing one of those four things. Let me get this straight: You're going to stop reading my free blog? I hope they have a SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Bozo Apparatus) tank because they won't be able to hold their breath long enough.

9. I love this Technorati ranking thing. I know it probably doesn't mean much, but it's fun. I'll never play in the NHL, and I'll never start a billion-dollar company, but I could get into the Technorati top ten. Everybody has to have goals, and this is one of mine...

9 a. I don't get this “exchanging links” thing. IMHO, you should link to a blog if you believe it's good for your readership. The other blogger should link to back your blog if she believes it's good for her readership. In a perfect world, linking is about quality, not reciprocation, with all due respect to Dr. Cialdini. :-)

10. It's hard to make money blogging. The advertising revenues don't add up to much, but there are other significant rewards like helping people change the world..

Finally, a little story for you: At 11:00 pm a few weeks ago, my wife asked me, “What are you doing?” I wish I could have said, “Making money.” Instead I told her, “I'm changing the world, 15,000 people at a time.” To which she deadpanned, “Oh, you're blogging again...”

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Comments

Hi Guy,

I want to do a “Dear Abby” column in which people post questions, and I answer. These can't be comments tied to a specific post because they would get buried. I'd like to create an archive of questions and answers that people can search. I looked at a couple of Wiki products, but I didn't have the mental energy to adapt them to my needs.

I recently started a web site based on a similar idea. You can find it at www.wikivice.com. It is mostly a stock MediaWiki, with a couple of minor addons and modifications. There's not much content right now, but I'm hoping to build up a community in the near future.

Thanks for the very honest account of your first 100 days (though it's been quite some time ago now...) Can't agree more on the linking thing - wouldn't have imagined so many people ask for link exchange / votes simply because they are going to do the same for you, even though they have not really visited your site...

Very enjoyable substantial blog. Will come back often and get a copy of your books to read through.

Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view… makes you think more. So please keep up the great work. Greetings.

I like the words: "some men make the blog, and some blogs make the man". Change the world is a good reason to make a blog.

Great and excellent article t’s realy helpful. Thanks again.
Wow. Very impressive

good site

“I'm changing the world, 15,000 people at a time.”

I wish more people would say that instead of "I am making money".

It´s a very interesting Blog and simple answer of many questions.

Hey guy, great blog man. Yes, technorati is working for you. I just found your blog on the 100 most popular list and I just subscribed.

Great writing. You sound like an "actionist" so I'm a fan. And, oh yeah, that SCUBA analogy is priceless.

Have a great weekend and keep up the outstanding blog.

Enjoyed browsing through the site. Keep up the good work. Thanks and Greetings from Poland

Hi. Number 8 here. Just pissed off about Myspace being idiots. I like cheese and bread.

Nice one. Provides some inspiration for me to try and to keep my Blog going.

Wow. Very impressive.

Supreme concept of a personalized web portal.

I look forward to using this as my browsers' start page.

Keep up the good work!

Nice one. Provides some inspiration for me to try and to keep my Blog going.

Hi Guy, came back to this after a long time today. Have made a post on my blog on the second point you had made - the use of the perpendicular pronoun in blog posts. Here's the permalink to it - http://simply-speaking.blogspot.com/2006/11/whos-blog-is-it-anyway.html.

It is better, in the long run, to can influence 15.000 people rather than make money( although the money are not bad either)

Excellent post it helps keep everything in perspective. I have been reading your blog from close to when it first started. I have enjoyed the growing conversation. 100 days can have a big impact on a lot of people.

You have a knack for making even the most boring subject an interesting read...

Seriously: ever considered publishing (print version) some of the similar topic articles on your blog into a book of small articles?
I would certainly buy such a book if you ever compiled it.

great site with good look and information... i like it

You mentioned that you wanted to do a "Dear Abby" thing...I may have it wrong but I interpreted that statement to mean that you would like to accumulate a lot of problem statements from people that you could respond to. If I am correct, the following cite may have the automated format you want.
Check out the Gary North Questions& Answers site at http://mail.google.com/mail/?auth=DQAAAHQAAABZVu
QBxX-wHWj-fthuRBSty26dvBWJm-eH6IBC2JEC2ZgCw76ZEtA-SFEmnrUb8rWrDFUglq3FYWqYolujMUNna0GzeBlBsblzXgPZh4Av4chpVn9zNa_ZvDO6EdXy_gP9J6yb2-IxdKOK0BPIYx--NbaplXyCegtWp7QLS6CZng

...a comment on your 12/20/30 rule. Very good idea. I've got a lot of students who need that one. Check out http://www.i3mm.blogspot.com/ for an uncommonly clear set of tips for the use of PP to communicate. This cite is almost all examples with clear principles.

love your topic

What a coincidence ! I started blogging at about the same time you started.

To be honest, I haven't read any one of your books or attended any of your talks but the more I read your blog, the more I'm convinced that I just have to get your books. No shitake ! :-)

Great post, fun blog!

Thanks!

I'm enjoying your blog all the way from Lagos Nigeria. And all the 'plugs' and 'links' to other sites are great. Keep them coming. By the way I'm trying to download the Majora video from TED ... it might take 40 hours with this connection. I hope it's worth it :-)

-Mike

Aw jeeesh Guy, why the frig did you have to go and post # 5. "An expert who blogs is more interesting than a blogger who experts."

That's is. I have to quit blogging now. I'm done. It's all over. Bring the curtains down. Kaput. Fini. I am dog mess on your diamond soled Hi-tecs. Als ist kla.

Pass the razor blade.

I am just about to create my first blog so lots of great information here.

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