Category: Writing

The Single Biggest Thing Preventing Me From Doing More Writing Is…

screenshot of a mastodon client running on an iphone. Screenshot is tilted to the left on a white background. The client is in dark mode and so is mostly black. One of the posts shown in the client includes a photo of two hands in front of a keyboard.

As I’ve frequently lamented in my yearly themes (although not this year), I would like to get myself to write more. And back on December 1, 2022, I tried to commit to #100DaysOfBlogging, but that hasn't worked out so well.

I’ve been watching how I spend my time lately, and to I’m sure the surprise of absolutely NO ONE, including myself, it would seem the single biggest thing preventing me from doing more writing is… getting distracted by social media! 🤣🤣🤣

Take this morning. I was awake early at around 5:00am (courtesy of our wonderful but early-rising dog) and I sat on our couch drinking some tea and browsing through Mastodon (you can find me there). About 1.5 hours later, I’d read some great commentary, found some new articles to share, engaged in some conversations, and generally had an enjoyable time interacting with people.

But… could part of that time have been better spent getting some writing done?

I struggle with this, because on the one hand I learn things from social media that are then useful in new articles or other work. It’s “research” of one form. And engaging with people in an online community is a good thing to do.

But on the other hand, I find myself doing this a bit too much.

I’ll note, of course, that THIS IS NOT A NEW ISSUE FOR ME! In fact, I can easily scan my archives and find I’ve been writing more or less this same kind of post for ** 15 years **! 🤦‍♂️

The common theme through all of that is… “I’ve got to change… I’ve got to not get so sucked into <whatever services>”.

And yet I do. 

The siren song of distraction is incredibly strong.

Perhaps this is the thing where I’ll keep shouting about it in the hopes that eventually by saying it enough I will make it happen in my life.

Or perhaps in 2033 I’ll be writing the same basic post again, lamenting how much time I spend with some new service. 🤣

P.S. And I don’t even mention TikTok, which seems to be wired into my brain in a way that whenever I open up the app it is then an hour or so later when I emerge again! (Hence why I don’t open it all that often.)

Au Revoir Revue! Twitter to Kill Off Newsletter Service at End of 2022 – I Guess I Need To Move My Newsletter!

 

The text "Au revoir revue" on a blue background

I was a little surprised to learn this morning that Twitter is shutting down its Revue newsletter service. Casey Newton first wrote about this back on November 3 in his Platformer newsletter, but subsequent articles after the massive layoffs confirmed that Revue is shutting down - and basically all the associated staff have been let go.

I had missed all those articles and just randomly saw a reference this morning when scanning social feeds.

It’s NOT actually surprising if you think about the fact that Elon Musk has to be laser-focused on revenue right now, particularly as his self-induced chaos is causing users and advertisers to leave Twitter. Revue was about long-form content published in email - and was not really a quick and easy way to increase advertising 

So as they note, it’s all going away:

  • December 20, 2022 – Revue will set all outstanding paid subscriptions to cancel at the end of their billing cycle
  • January 18, 2023 – Revue will shut down and all data will be deleted

It’s too bad as it was a nice platform… if you were a strong Twitter user.

It had the nice feature that it showed up right on your Twitter profile page, offering people the ability to easily subscribe:

screen shot of a Twitter feed showing a newsletter box in the feed

On the back end, there were some simple tools to easily add tweets into your newsletter.

Also, unlike Substack, you could set up your Revue newsletter with a custom domain, such as I did with choices.danyork.com.

So What Will I Do Next?

As that image shows, I started a newsletter on Revue called “A Choice of Futures” back in October 2021 and published a whopping two issues! 🎉

I had great plans to do more, but ran into several challenges in timing and then got super busy with work and volunteer responsibilities in 2022.

But I was thinking about getting back to it in 2023.

So what now?

could move that newsletter over to Substack, Medium, AWeber, or any of a zillion other places.

Or.. I can just shut down this particular newsletter. 

Realistically, that’s probably what I’ll do. Send one final issue as the period at the end of the sentence, and then be done.

You see… I actually already have a Substack newsletter at danyork.substack.com called “A View From The Crow’s Nest” where the intent is to write about new technology out on the horizon. It’s an even older newsletter that I used to run through an email service provider. I moved it to Substack back in March 2020 when Substack was getting a lot of attention. I wanted to learn about Substack and it was my intention to start doing more with it.

But then.. pandemic… and so much else of the craziness of COVID-19 and how our world was changing. I dropped that newsletter and so much else, just caught in the moment of trying to make it through each day.

By the time late 2021 came around and I was interested in a newsletter again, I had some concerns about the direction Substack was going… and so I thought I’d give Revue a try.

Ha!

Turns out the concerns would end up being with where Twitter and Revue were going instead!  (Although I do still have concerns about Substack!)

So that will be my personal plan. I’ve hit the button to export all my data from Revue, and I’ll invite folks there to join my other newsletter on Substack.

Any of you reading this are welcome to join too!

 

#100DaysOfBlogging – Let’s Do This!

The words "100 Days Of Blogging" on a gray / blue background

Joe Brockmeier, who I’ve known from back in the amazing early days of Linux in the early 1990s, recently posted to his Mastodon account:

With the renewed focus on owning your content and DIY web / #IndieWeb ethos, I'd love to encourage folks to think about more long-form content.

Mastodon allows for longer thoughts than the birdsite, but I miss the days of blogrings, conversations in comments, and so forth. I don't think we're going to get back to blogging's heyday, but a revival would be great.

And with that, he announced he was going to do a “100 day blogging challenge”. As he writes, “let’s get those RSS feeds going again!"

He then invited others to join in on the creation of long-form content:

If you’re reading this, consider this an invitation to start or dust off your own blog and update it regularly. If 100 days straight is too much, how about twice per week?

So… okay, Joe, I’m in! Since I said way back on January 1 that I hoped to create more content this year… and haven’t really… let’s see if I can finish strong!

I’ve long wanted to start writing again on sites that *I* control, versus writing on the platforms and social sites. (See… POSSE … from four years ago! 🤦‍♂️)

Today is December 1 - a random site on the Internet tells me that 100 days from today will be March 11, 2023.

Let’s see if I can go that long. If so, hopefully it will then be back to being a “habit” that I will just continue indefinitely.

To be clear, I’m not going to commit to write here on THIS site alone for 100 days, although maybe that would be good. My goal will be to write across my various personal sites and other sites like CircleID and the Internet Society’s blog. I’ll also be scheduling content in advance, since I don’t expect to actually be writing on Christmas. We’ll see!

If you care to follow along, or just want to hold me accountable 🙂, you’ll be able to see my writing at danyork.me. In theory, that little calendar on the right side should show a bold date from here on out to March 11!

Care to join in? 

Let’s bring some more long-form content back to the Web! (Tip: you can use this site to find your end date.)

Poem: In the end, it didn’t matter

In the end
It didn’t matter
That their kids got many other required vaccines for school

It didn’t matter
That their jobs required annual flu shots

It didn’t matter
That unvaxxed people they knew died

It didn’t matter,
Their lords said this vaccine was bad

Nothing else mattered
In the end

Finding the Toolchain to Consistently Create Content

tools on a pegboard

If one of my aspirations for this year is to consistently create content, one of my personal challenges is to figure out HOW to easily do that.

Ideally, creating content on my own sites should be as easy as sending out a tweet, posting a message to Facebook or Mastodon, or posting an image to Instagram.

And therein lies my challenge.

I’d like to make it so that I could just post from my mobile phone or iPad, so that whenever I have a story idea I want to write I can just post something easily. And, I can also post from my laptop or desktop. I want to be able to post content from anywhere, just as I can with Twitter, Mastodon, and Facebook.

I want to remove any friction from creating content.

However, the main personal sites I write on - this DanYork.com site, Disruptive Telephony, and Disruptive Conversations - are all still hosted on TypePad, because that is where I created them 15 years ago! 😀 And, alas, there is no mobile app or easy way to create content. There IS a mobile web interface, but it doesn’t provide me with a way to create drafts and have a queue.

Now, if the sites were on WordPress, the WordPress mobile apps provide a great experience, but they aren’t… and the switching costs are large. There’s a great amount of work to move thousands of posts and images, including substantial URL rewriting/redirecting. It’s not an easy task.

I’d like to move the sites to WordPress eventually, but not this year.

For the moment, I’m using MarsEdit on my Macs, as I’ve done for many years. For the mobile side, I’m still exploring options. One thought is to use the DayOne journaling app that is now part of my daily workflow. Write the posts there and then copy/paste to the mobile TypePad interface. But I don’t know… I’m looking at other IOS editors, too, and so far not  yet finding the toolchain I need.

The search continues!  The goal is to remove friction from the creation process.

My Themes for 2022

3 Words 2022

Following my pattern of the past 13 years (see list), my first post of 2022 across all my sites is of three words that are my aspirations or “themes” for the year ahead. They are not “resolutions” so much as guiding thoughts or principles.

In so many ways 2021 was a good bit of a “dumpster fire” of a year. We started off with such great hope that the pandemic would be under control … and ended with even higher case counts and more deaths that we’d had the previous year. It often does truly feel like the 672nd day of March 2020. So many of us struggled in so many ways. Yet amidst all that chaos, there were positive signs - and I remain grateful that I reached the end of the year with all my family in decent health (at least physically).

Looking on toward 2022...

HOPE

Last year brought me great clarity around what I see as my own my personal mission to help people understand our choice of futures - for the Internet, but also for ourselves and for our society. 

But 2021 also brought clarity that it is so easy to fall into despair. It does seem like we’re stuck in a perpetual Groundhog Day. The state of the pandemic is so frustrating, particularly for those of us who have done everything we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. The breakdown in civility and discourse that we are seeing across the USA and across the world is extremely saddening. The polarization and politicization of even trivial issues is tragic. And our governments and leaders often seem incapable of doing anything helpful - and in fact sometimes seem to be doing the exact opposite of what makes sense - or are so mired in disagreement that nothing happens at all. And… weather events around the world seem to indicate that climate change is happening quicker than many forecast. There are so many tragic events happening to so many people, and even for those not directly affected, there is so much to fear that it can be paralyzing.

It often feels like we are on the edge of living in any of the zillion dystopian, post-apocalyptic movies or TV series that are out there.

It’s easy to despair. 

And yet… we can’t. For if we fall into the depths of despair, what is the point of being here? And who will pull us out?

We must hold on to the possibility of hope

We must.

And so what I want to do this year is to do whatever I can to help shine the light on and amplify the good work going on. (And there definitely IS - read "99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2021”)

Not with “rose-colored glasses” or with naive, excessive optimism that just ignores everything else to hope things get better.. but rather with an action of seeking out the hopeful, positive, and optimistic in the midst of the chaos and despair. As I said in a tweet:

The challenge that lies before us is more than choosing hope over fear.
It is choosing hope *amidst* the overwhelming narratives of fear and doom.
It is choosing hope and optimism *despite* those fears.
It is choosing hope as a daily, gritty act of resistance and resilience.

To me, that is the work we all must do.

CONTENT

As I wrote at some length last year, I’ve been struggling through this whole pandemic, but even before that, to consistently create content, be it blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, newsletters or more. I optimistically wrote:

A goal in 2021 is to break through those blockages. I want to get writing again. I want to more consistently create podcast episodes. I’d like to send out more than one email newsletter in an entire year!

That didn’t happen. In fact, I sent out zero issues of that particular email newsletter, although I did send out two issues of a new newsletter

I produced a whopping 8 podcast episodes in 2021 (7 for my The Dan York Report podcast, and one for my “FIR On Technology” podcast), although I did submit all 12 monthly reports into the FIR podcast.

And… I only wrote * 11 * posts across all my different blog sites, including my employer’s site, and almost all of those were “administrative” notices such as about upcoming deadlines for various awards or elections. A far cry from the days when would write hundreds of posts each year. 🙁

A sad state of affairs for someone who loves to create content.

Now, I do give myself a bit of a break. I mean… pandemic!  It’s been hard on all of us and quite honestly simply surviving 2021 is a beautiful thing!

On the positive side, I was live-streaming on Twitch most of the year, and in doing so continued to learn an amazing amount more about Wikipedia. And, I set up a TikTok account to actually start playing with that platform.

But my aspiration in 2022 is to get back in the game… to be back telling the stories I want to tell… and to be helping promote the hopeful aspects of the futures we need to choose. And… to do so on my OWN sites! Lately I’ve started to write very long threads on Twitter that then get lost in the noise. I really need to be taking those threads and writing them as posts for their longevity - and to have them on sites I control, rather than being lost in some proprietary platform.

We’ll see!

HEALTH

Finally, I’ve really got to focus on my health. Like many people, I’ve been a bit too sedentary during the pandemic and eaten a bit too much comfort food. My weight is almost the heaviest I’ve ever been and I seriously need to start making some better food choices. And, being in my mid-50s there’s a number of medical checks I need to have. 

need to focus on this!

Looking forward...

Overall I’m quite looking forward to 2022. I’m hopeful that maybe we can finally get the pandemic to a more reasonable state. I look forward to hopefully getting together with friends in our local area, and making new friends, too. I look forward to seeing family more frequently. I look forward to getting back to attending user group meetings and other professional events, and going to concerts and church services and so much more. I miss singing!

Hopefully we can get there… although admittedly 2022 isn’t starting off so great with the rising numbers.

I am also very excited about a new project I’m leading at the Internet Society about understanding Internet access via low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. It’s a hot topic with a lot of marketing hype right now - and we’ll be working to bring some clarity to that whole area. It should be both educational and fun!  

Let us hope this all continues to go well!

What about you? What are your aspirations for 2022?

My Themes for 2021

2021 3 Words

As I have for the past 12 years (see list), my first post of 2021 across all my sites is of three(-ish) words that are my aspirations or “themes” for the year ahead. As my 18yo daughter has reminded me, the beginning of a new calendar year is a completely arbitrary marker 🙂, but it does provide a moment to pause and reflect. Particularly THIS year with the pandemic, we’ve had a great amount of reflection time!

Note: while last year’s post was super short, this one is much longer...

CLARITY (MISSION)

Some of my colleagues at the Internet Society are undoubtedly tired of hearing me say that we must “Do Fewer Things Better”. That’s been my mantra for the past several years, particularly after I took on our website redesign four years ago at the beginning of 2017. As I looked at all the many amazing things we were doing, it was clear to me that we were doing far more than we really could with our small staff. It was hard to capture in our website what we did as an organization, because we were doing so many things! As our new-ish (2018) CEO is fond of saying “We aren’t the Everything Society!” We’ve worked hard over these years to be more focused and have more clarity of purpose.

In 2020, some internal organization changes and internal opportunities caused me to think deeply about exactly what it is I want to be doing - not only within the Internet Society, but also in my larger life. In the immortal words of the poet Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I spent a great amount of time just… thinking. Reflecting. Writing. Mind-mapping. I re-read a book I’ve enjoyed - “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, which may actually be from where I started using “Do Fewer Things Better” (although he uses a slight variation “fewer, but better” following on from the German “weniger aber besser”).

Perhaps most importantly, I went back and read my blog post about WHY I joined the Internet Society back in September 2011. A critical section stood out:


We have before us a choice of futures.

One choice leads to a future where innovative companies can emerge, thrive, disrupt and succeed.

Another choice leads to a future where what little "innovation" there is exists only at the will of the gatekeepers to the network after appropriate requirements and/or payments are met. Other choices lead to outcomes somewhere in between those polarities.

How will we choose?


I realized that something in my work that I had been missing from 2017-2019, with so much of my work focused on the organization’s websites, was being a stronger voice about this choice of futures we have. In 2020, I got a chance to speak and write more on this topic as I lead our Open Standards Everywhere project… and it left me wanting to do more.

The pandemic showed us how critical the Internet is. It is the lifeline that is connecting us in all we do. It is how we communicate, collaborate, create, connect…. It is how we work, how we go to school, how we buy things.

And yet… this “lifeline” of ours is not well understood by everyone using it. And in particular by so many of the people creating policies or making decisions around the Internet.

The “Internet” needs more voices explaining HOW it works… and WHY it works the way does… and why it is worth defending. (We see it right now with the “Section 230” debates happening where it’s clear that some people don’t understand what the actual topic is!)

This happens to be something I can do particularly well. And so out of all that thought and reflection emerged the clarity of a personal “mission”, not just for my work, but also for my larger life in general:

To help people understand our choice of futures in our ever-more connected society, and to be a voice for the open Internet.

There’s an amazing clarity that happens when you have that clear of a direction. It provides a lens through which to evaluate choices and opportunities. It provided guidance in those work changes and opportunities I mentioned above.

It also provided a lens through which to evaluate opportunities outside of work. As an example, over the past several months I’ve had people from two separate nonprofits that I greatly admire approach me about joining their Board of Directors. A few years ago I would have probably just said “yes” to both, because they are great organizations and I enjoy serving on boards and helping organizations move forward.

But this clarity of purpose, combined with “do fewer things better”, provided a lens through which I could evaluate the choices. With everything else going on right now, could I really give the time to help the organizations succeed?  And secondly, would joining that board help move this personal mission forward?

For one organization, the answer was a clear yes. For the other, it wasn’t.

In 2021, I want to continue to focus on being more clear on my priorities in life, more intentional, more focused. As part of that, too, I want to evaluate the things I am doing and decide whether I truly want to continue (and have the capacity to do so), or if it is time to end some of those activities.

CONTENT (WRITING)

As noted above, if I truly want to be “a voice for the open Internet” and “to help people understand our choice of futures”… well… I kind of have to DO THAT, eh?

When I looked back over these 12 years of writing these “3 words” posts, 10 of the posts have included a word about doing “more” with creating content!

3 words 2010 2021

And yet… here I am again.

I have stories I want to tell. I have things I want to say. I have information that I think would help other people.

And yet… I struggle to get those stories and words out.

The “tyranny of the blank page” wins. The articles aren’t written. The podcast episodes aren’t recorded. The videos aren’t made.

As part of that clarity of purposed mentioned above, I’ve been looking at what is it that stops me from getting those stories out. In some cases it has been the fear of getting started. In some cases it has just been… well… life in a pandemic. In other cases, it’s been… getting distracted by everything else on the Internet.

A goal in 2021 is to break through those blockages. I want to get writing again. I want to more consistently create podcast episodes. I’d like to send out more than one email newsletter in an entire year!

Or not! Another goal this year is also to re-evaluate… if I’m not realistically going to send out email newsletters, then just shut it down! If I’m not going to publish posts on one of my sites… archive it!  It’s time to do fewer content things better!

CONNECTIONS

Finally, the pandemic of 2020 has certainly shown the strength of - and need for - connections with other people. In some ways, the pandemic has been amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had a stronger connection with my wife and daughters than I have this year! My wife and I have been able to carve out some “date time” on morning walks that has brought us even closer together. The sadness of our 18yo not being able to attend her first year of university on campus has provided an amazing opportunity to learn so much more about the incredible young adult she has become. (For her sake, we’re hoping she can move on campus in the fall of 2021!) It was strange for our 11yo to start a new school entirely online and from home, but we’ve also embraced our ability to see more of her than we would in a typical school day.

But for all the strengthening of my immediate connections, I dearly miss seeing my parents and extended family. Video calls are great, but not the same. I miss seeing old friends … and making new friends. The pandemic has definitely highlighted to me that I while I’ve made some connections here in Vermont since we moved here in 2018, I do need to strengthen the ones I have and also expand a bit more.

As a strong extrovert, I enjoy the interactions with many people… and that’s so hard to do in this pandemic world. I’m hoping the combination of vaccines and behavior will help us put this virus behind us.

Two Other Themes

 While those are my main themes, there are certainly two other themes that are constant in my life:

  • HEALTH - I’m still working on this. (I say as I eat another chocolate chip cookie!) My wife and I both share a goal of eating better, exercising more, and just generally trying to be more healthy.
  • SERVICE - I’ve always tried to have part of my life involving service in helping others. Whether it has been working as part of local organizations, helping with community breakfasts, or doing other active roles, it’s always been part of what I’ve done. But it’s crazy hard in the midst of this pandemic to figure out how to help others while still being safe yourself. Sure, we donate to local organizations as we can. We help our local food shelf with supplies. But I want to do more to help in this time when so many people need help!

So these are all thoughts as we leave the craziness of 2020 and enter into 2021… we’ll see how the year shapes up - and how well I do!

How about you? What are things you want to accomplish or do differently in 2021?

"Hipster Ipsum" may be my new favorite Lorem Ipsum generator

Hipster ipsum

I may have just found my new favorite "Lorem ipsum" text generator - HIPSTER IPSUM!

https://hipsum.co/

For the longest time, my choice when I just needed some columns to fill in with filler text[1] was Bacon Ipsum, which is always fun. The companion to that is of course Veggie Ipsum

But now I think I may indeed use "hipster ipsum". I mean... I just smile when I read through the text. :-)

P.S. I noticed in searching today that there is a WordPress plugin (of course!) called "AnyIpsum" that lets you create your own lorem impsum generator.


[1] Why do I need filler text? When I'm working on a web design, it is often helpful to have some text in the columns and text blocks so that you can see what they look like with text in them. You can of course read more about the history of "Lorem ipsum" on Wikipedia.

Initial Thoughts on WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg

Wordpress 5 0

Yesterday (Dec 6, 2018) was TheBigDay when WordPress 5.0 with the Gutenberg block-based editor landed in all of our WordPress sites for upgrade. Some of the places to learn more about the launch include:

Changing the core editor over to Gutenberg was a massive effort over the past two years - and the launch this week was both an amazing accomplishment... and a very divisive event within the WordPress community.

I was very much hoping to be down in Nashville for WordCamp US this weekend, where parts of the community will be gathering. I expect it will be quite a passionate weekend! (Unfortunately some family medical issues kept me closer to home.)

I *really* like Gutenberg...

My initial reaction was... I really LIKE Gutenberg!

Now, I've been playing with it for much of the last year, and the more I work with it, the more I like it.

It really DOES enable more beautiful and powerful publishing with great ease.

I'm looking forward to doing even MORE with it and learning how far we can go with using Gutenberg.

... but it needs to work! :-(

However, after the upgrade to WordPress 5.0, the Gutenberg editor didn't work on all my sites. For several of my sites, I had NO PROBLEM after the update. It "just worked." I was immediately able to go in and start editing with Gutenberg.

But on a couple of other sites, when I went in to edit an existing page or post - or to create a new one - I made all my changes and pressed the "Update" or "Publish" button and...

Gutenberg updating failed

"Updating failed" in a big red bar across the top of the screen!

Amusingly to me, some searching on the web brought me back to a Github issue I had opened back in August 2017.

All I had to do to "fix" the issue was this:

  1. Go to Settings -> Permalinks, and change it from "Month and name" to "Day and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  2. Change it from "Day and name" back to "Month and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  3. Switch back to the tab where I was editing the post and had the error message. Pressed "Update" and.. ta da... the updating worked perfectly fine.

I had to do this on two different WordPress sites (both running on the same WordPress multisite server). Strangely, other sites on the multisite server were fine.

While the fix was easy, it concerns me that I had to do this and that I didn't really do anything. But somehow my act of changing the Permalink Settings did SOMETHING internally to make things work.

That concerns me.

Now, someone in that ticket or elsewhere suggested that this particular issue was NOT a Gutenberg issue, but rather an issue with the REST API, which Gutenberg uses.

Regardless, my point was that I couldn't use the editor to make changes on my site.

And beyond my own issue, I see many other Gutenberg issues piling up on Github. Now, yes, these may be initial launch pains for launching such a massive change.

But I do hope the team of developers can fix these in the 5.0.1 release that I'm sure will come quickly.

I really DO like the Gutenberg editor - and I look forward to seeing all we collectively can do with it!


P.S. This post was NOT written using Gutenberg because this Disruptive Conversations site is sadly still over on TypePad. I look forward to migrating it some day so that I can use Gutenberg!

Have we given up on personal blogging? (In favor of social media)

Cemetary keene

Have we given up on personal blogging? Are we instead doing that all writing in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar services?

Is the personal blog dead? [1]

I had lunch this week with a friend who, like me, has been online since long before this thing we now call the “Internet” came into being. We were having one of those “back in the old days” conversations where we talking about the discipline that came from programming in assembly language, the challenges of early computing and networks, how the programmers these days no longer need to understand how things really work, how they write bloated code, etc., etc.

Along the way we talked about the changing nature of the Internet and the growing consolidation / centralization of so many key services. We talked about how so many people no longer host their own web servers (both she and I do (for some of my sites), but talked about the issues with that and how attractive it is to look at hosting options)… about how many people no longer run their own mail servers (I don’t, but she does)… and how people have just generally given up running their own services because the hosted services are just so incredibly convenient and useful. And somewhere in there she just tossed in a comment along the lines of:

“… and then we’ve given up on blogging in favor of Facebook…"

It was just a throwaway comment in the midst of a longer discussion that went on into the rise of CDNs, overlay caching networks, cloud computing and more. (It was a great conversation!)

But that comment stuck with me… and as it rolled around inside of my brain, I sadly had to conclude that for the most part[1]...

she’s right.

My Own Example

I look even at my own writing. Despite my post in September about “Returning to POSSE - Writing on my own site, THEN on Facebook, Twitter, etc.”, the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been writing on my own sites.

If you take a look at my danyork.me aggregator site, you’ll see that I’ve been writing for the past week, but if you go back beyond that, or use the little calendar on the right sidebar to look at past months, you’ll see there is very little activity.  And what there is of my writing is most often on the Internet Society websites, rather than my various personal blogs.

For example, when I wrote on my Disruptive Telephony site on Monday, it was my first post there since March 2017 - that is 21 MONTHS!

Some of my other sites are worse.

Now, you could argue in my case that this just a matter of changing priorities. I don’t work as much with voice-over-IP or messaging, and so NOT writing on Disruptive Telephony makes sense. The site chronicled by activities in the VoIP world when I was active there. Now maybe it’s time to just park it and leave it alone. I could make similar cases for why I haven’t written on other sites.

And this may just be the consequence of my choice many years ago to spread my writing across multiple topic-focused sites, instead of just writing about a wide variety of topics on a single site such as danyork.com.

And it may be that it’s just me with everything else going on in my life over the past year.

The Directory Dilemma, Again

Or maybe not.

My lunch companion mentioned the challenge of finding where companies have their main information. Are their hours of operation most accurate on their website? Or on their Facebook page? 

And the same is true of personal blogs and sites. 

How do I find where people are writing?

Back in the early days of blogging (mid-2000s), of course,  many of us used RSS readers and got our feeds from sites that way.  We found new feeds from references, from searches, from different directories. But while I’m still one of those dwindling number of people who use a RSS reader, the vast majority of people do not. 

How do you find writing?  Well, usually through mentions in social media. It’s the “syndication” part of POSSE.  

But if you are using social media to distribute and promote your writing… it’s not a huge step to simply just write in the social media platform because it’s so easy and distribution is automatic. I know people who have moved all their writing to LinkedIn, for instance. Or people who are writing long threads in Twitter now that the site supports longer tweets and threading.

It’s another version of the Directory Dilemma - it’s easy to find content within those nice hosted walled gardens.

Running Servers Takes Work

And let’s be honest - running your own personal website can be a bit of a pain. If you use a self-hosted content management system (CMS) such as WordPress (as I do), you find yourself pretty much constantly needing to apply updates. Updates to the core… updates to the plugins… updates to the theme.  And then of course possibly updates to the underlying operating system if you are running the CMS in a virtual machine.

And then if you want to set up TLS certificates to support HTTPS, that can be a whole adventure! And if you mess it up, your sites are offline.

It’s enough to make you say… "<expletive> it, I’ll just go write on Medium!” … or hosted WordPress.com … or… to just write inside of Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.

After all... I just want to write! 

Every minute I spend doing system admin or applying plugin updates is a minute I could be doing more writing.

Add in that all of those social sites have very easy-to-use mobile applications. It makes it so easy to just start writing inside those pretty walled gardens.

In contrast, many of the blogging and website hosting services have a less-than-stellar mobile UX. WordPress does a nice job with its mobile apps... but others? Not so much.

So is personal blogging dead?

Wellllll... no. There will always be some of will write on their own sites.

And I'd like to hope not for the larger independence of the Web. I'd like to hope many people will continue to embrace the “POSSE“ content publishing model from the “IndieWeb” movement:

Publish on your
Own
Site,
Syndicate
Elsewhere

I am going to continue to try.

But I also understand why some give up on it. The sweet convenience, ease-of-use and simplicity of the social networking platforms is extremely seductive. And they encourage consumption of content (because that helps get them the ad eyeballs they need to get paid) - and finding the balance of consumption and creation is hard!

What about you, dear reader? Have you given up


[1] Realizing that there will always be outliers in terms of very active personal blogs - and people who just choose to write on their own - but are personal blogs no longer of interest for the vast majority of people?

Photo: an image I took in the Woodlawn Cemetary in Keene, NH