Fifteen year blogiversary

Fifteen years ago, I wrote my first post here. Now, my archives page says there are 2,565 posts. That doesn’t count the many obnoxious posts I decided didn’t represent well. There are probably more that could be deleted. Yup.

Most of the posts here still make me happy. It’s common for me to have a conversation with someone and be tempted to pull out my phone and search for a relevant post.

Over the years, this blog has watched a lot of changes.

Infrastructure

This site has always been self-hosted WordPress. I started in the earlier days of WordPress, with version 1.2.1. Now WordPress and I are on version 5.3.2. I flirted with Blogger, but it wasn’t serious.

I started with shared hosting, then went with a dedicated WordPress hosting provider. Now I’m using a Digital Ocean virtual private server with free Cloudflare CDN and JetPack image processing/serving. It’s amazing what $5 per month can get you these days.

When I started, I wanted anonymity, using blogan.net as the domain. Sometime later, I removed the mask and transitioned to brentlogan.com. This is me.

Fellow Travelers

Those I started blogging with don’t anymore. Those I convinced to start blogging also don’t. Their sites might still be up, but they haven’t posted in years. To me, that’s sad. For them, probably not. They’re now on Facebook or Instagram, probably both. It works for them.

Popular Posts

I added some locally-hosted visitor analytics a while back.1It doesn’t track you and send your information to a third party. It allows me to see what are currently my most popular posts.

Yeah, I wrote only two or three of these this year, depending on how you count. A couple more are quotes from other people. It’s how the web works.

Series and Themes

Over the years, I’ve settled into a few themes. Here are links to some of them.

One of these days, I might settle down to a single topic. Until then, this will continue to be a place for me to experiment, learning web technologies, and have fun sharing what’s important to me at the moment.

And a place for visitors to learn a little more about me.

Welcome!

R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013

R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013, by Jason Kottke. “Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.” Guilty, as charged. Yet, like Jason, I plan to continue writing/posting online.

I blame the death of blogging on its success. Web content has become so common that it’s virtually worthless. The continuous flow of the new is a stream. If you miss something, don’t worry. More effluent will be flowing by whenever you look…

Is Blogging Old Media?

Ouch!1Credit: Geek and Poke “Time Flies” used under a Creative Commons license. I’ve only been blogging since 2004.2I attempted podcasting just a few months later.

I guess I need to remember that I joined MySpace and Facebook in 2006, and Twitter and Tumblr in 2007. Let’s not forget identi.ca, Plurk, and FriendFeed around the same time.3Yeah, keeping track of how I connected all the social media sites got so complex I created a chart. Yup, that was years after starting blogging and years ago.

So, what’s the next big thing in social media? Where do you spend your online time?

My Social Media New Year’s Resolutions

With a new year nearly here, it’s time to resolve to behave better on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and whatever other social media gets invented this coming year.

  • Ask, don’t tell. I’ll try to remember that I don’t know everything and act accordingly. I might even learn something.
  • Leave more comments. Bloggers put a lot of effort into their craft. A thoughtful comment can be the best reward. I know I appreciate comments.1Oh, that was almost a pitiful plea for comments, wasn’t it? ;-)
  • Respond. When someone comments here, I’ll respond. Same if someone @replies on Twitter or tags on Facebook. Not all responses need to be (or should be) in the public stream.
  • Less posting. That’s right — less. Less stupid stuff, less politics,2None? fewer links that die. And maybe a little more long-form blogging, though no promises there.
  • Less snark. Yeah, snarkiness is fun, and even funny sometimes. I’ll just do less of it. Or do it better.
  • Less complaining. Facebook will do what Facebook will do. I’ll just quietly sit in my corner blocking apps, ignoring page requests, and offer only helpful suggestions.
  • No drive-bys. Tweets and status updates I disagree with are not an invitation for debate or correction. People have the right to be wrong — even me.
  • More IRL. Online social media is fun and a great way to meet new people, but it’s no replacement for shaking someone’s hand, sitting across the table, and talking. More Tweetups, Ignite Portland, etc. I recently made my contact information easier to find if you’d like to contact me. Just check my Contact link.
  • Understand Twitter. Okay, that one’s impossible.

Are you making any social media resolutions? If so, what are they?

Starting a Blog — Naming It

Yesterday, I started “Impolite Company” to write about political issues. This and the next few posts will document the decisions I made and the steps I took in creating Impolite Company.

First on the list is the name: Impolite Company. I wasn’t looking for anonymity. I just needed another blog to segregate my political posts from everything else. I decided to use politics.blogan.net and went as far as creating the subdomain, installing the WordPress files, creating the database, and starting on the theme before I realized something better was needed, that I wanted a new domain name.

Here are factors I considered in choosing ImpoliteCompany.com:1

  • I wanted a “dot com” domain. That’s what people expect. When I say “blogan dot net” people look confused and disappointed. “Dot net?” they ask. I suspect they probably forget and go to the wrong site. Getting a dot com domain name was non-negotiable.
  • I wanted the domain name to be common words spelled correctly — no web 2.0 spelling with missing vowels near the end. I didn’t want a made up word that no one would know how to pronounce and no one could remember how to spell. I didn’t want a combination of words that could be divided differently to yield an unfortunate meaning (e.g., “therapist” or “the rapist”).
  • The length wasn’t particularly important. By now, people are used to multiple words in a domain name without having to add “all one word” when saying it. I hope people don’t type the domain name more than once, anyway. Put it in your favorites list or subscribe by RSS.
  • I used to believe earlier in the alphabet is better. This is probably becoming less important now that most bloggers have abandoned displaying alphabetical blogrolls. I do believe blogan.net benefited from being early in the alphabet.
  • I wanted the name to have some significance to the topic of politics. Although I imagine some would argue I failed on this point, Impolite Company is good enough for me. If you need an explanation, Impolite Company has an about page for you. It helped that I’d recently written on the topic, too.

I found both InPoliteCompany.com and ImpoliteCompany.com were available. Impolite had the meaning I wanted and got it. The other name might still be available if you want it.

Up next, selecting the blog platform.

Update. The Next Web has a great compilation of posts on naming web startups.


  1. I no longer own impolitecompany.com. 

Impolite Company Is Alive

My political blog, Impolite Company, is open for business. There’s not much there yet, but that soon will change.

It’s been a while since I started a new WordPress blog. There’s a big difference between starting a basic blog and one that has those features and capabilities I consider necessary. Domain names, styles, comments, and feeds, oh my! That sounds like a topic for another post.

In the mean time, drop on by Impolite Company, leave a comment, subscribe to the feed, and prepare to join in the discussion. And for those of you who don’t like politics, relax in the knowledge that I won’t write politics here on blogan.net.

Internet Content Plumbing Simplification

Inspired by Rafe Needleman’s content overload, I graphed my current Internet content plumbing with an eye to simplifying and improving it.1

I have two blogs: blogan.net and Exerslog; their content goes to FriendFeed, as do the comments I write on blogan (they are filtered from the entire comments feed by a Yahoo pipe). I don’t regularly update Exerslog and it no longer inspires me to exercise. Instead, it adds unnecessary overhead to activity I’d rather encourage and makes me feel guilty when I don’t update even though I have exercised. Time to shut it down, at least for now.

I used to write about others’ posts I read that I liked. Then I discovered Google Reader’s ability to share posts. I find Reader’s sharing easier than writing a blog post. The titles of the posts I share show up on the sidebar of blogan’s main page. I also pipe the shared posts to a Tumblr “tumblog.” I don’t like Tumblr because it makes the shared posts look like I wrote them. Google Reader provides a shared items page, so I didn’t need Tumblr for what I was doing. Good bye, Tumblr!

Unlike Rafe, I don’t use ping.fm to stuff status to various microblogging sites (Twitter, Identi.ca, Pownce, and Yammer) because I’d rather not start a conversation somewhere I won’t be watching. Instead, all my microblogging accounts pipe to FriendFeed, where I’d like the conversation to take place. Does this work? No. Time to get rid of the extra microblogging sites I don’t use.

I’ll keep Twitter because it’s where my social graph is. It works will with Alex King’s latest beta of Twitter Tools, which filters out @replies before displaying my tweets on blogan’s sidebar.

I have some miscellaneous sites: Amazon.com wishlist, BrightKite, and YouTube) that go to FriendFeed. I have virtually no activity on them, they self maintain, and it’s not worth documenting them, and not worth the effort of deleting their feeds from FriendFeed. Ignoring them is bliss!

I have a Pownce site that aggregates my blogan and Twitter streams. Pownce is another site I ignore and it can be removed.

Finally, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace are special cases. I don’t particularly like them, but I have a lot of friends on them so I don’t want to ignore them. They don’t play well with the rest of the Internet, though; getting feeds in and out of them can be difficult. Even in the case where it’s possible, it’s not necessarily advised. For example, I have Twitter update my status on Facebook. The cultures on Twitter and Facebook are different; noisy chatter that’s acceptable on Twitter might be considered obnoxious on Facebook. I think I’ll remove the linking. Likewise, I can’t think of a reason to pipe my LinkedIn activity to FriendFeed. These three sites go back to being the islands I hate.

This is what my Internet content plumbing looks like now. This captures at least 95% of my online content reading, creating, sharing, and other social networking activity.


  1. Hat tip: Steve Rubel for tweeting Rafe’s article. 

One Question To Ask Yourself Before You Start Blogging

There’s one question you need to ask yourself before you start blogging:

  1. Do I want to blog?

That’s it. End of story.

Forget about some narrowly-focused questionnaire that makes blogging sound hard or serious or demanding.

Do I want to blog?

Suppose the next time you’re in a bookstore you see a journal. You think to yourself, “Journaling might be fun. I had a diary at summer camp. Ms. Provansha made us journal in high school composition class. I wonder if I might like it now.” So you buy the journal. You take it home and you write in it. Or not. No big deal.

Now imagine going to that same bookstore and seeing that same journal. This time a poster next to the shelf of journals challenges, “4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Journaling.”

  1. Can I write well?
  2. Am I passionate about a particular topic?
  3. Am I willing to purchase the best equipment to write?
  4. Can I commit to serious writing?

Um, let’s see… No, no, no, and no. You leave the journal on the shelf and exit the store thinking, “I guess I’m just not cut out to journal.”

Shame on that bookstore. Not everyone who buys a journal is angling for a book deal. Likewise, not everyone considering blogging is planning to chase the advertising dollar.

Do you want to blog? Go for it!

Hat tip: Rick Turoczy who dugg the article prompting this rant, “4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Blogging“.