I’ve had this little presence on the web for just over a year now, and thought I would make a list of the few things that I’ve learnt along the way, some from reading, and some from doing.
HTML Can Be Fun
I’ve never really taken a hold of sophisticated web design, and haven’t really had anywhere to apply in until I signed up with Blogger. The great thing about Blogger is it lets me play with the coding for the page, but I didn’t have to start from scratch. If you pull up the source, you’ll see a number of notes I’ve written there to myself. There’s still a new things I’m trying to figure out, so my template will probably yet change again.
Privacy is a Myth
I have come to feel that privacy is more perception than reality - it exist because of social norms, not technological barriers. Every so often I call someone up and they ask “How did you get my number?” a little indignantly. My answer is the phonebook (many of the address are there too). I think what the web has done, even more than make personal information easier to find, is made people aware of how much information governments and organizations have and gather about them. For example, the other day a friend was having a problem with one of the new electronic parking meters, so she called up the 1-800 number and with her name and licence plate, the person on the other end was able to call up her MasterCard number and which meter she was parked at. Scary, but only because now she knows.
Little Original Content
We read in Ecclesiastes that “there is no new thing under the sun.”. While modern technology generates all sorts of fun possibilities, many blogs just recycle the same (and someone else’s) story again and again. The good part of that is you can often gather multiple viewpoints on the issue at hand. More so, I think it comes back to the fact that to produce original content takes a fair bit of effort (see following point), and even once created, it’s very hard to guarantee an audience, especially when put next to technology news.
Decent Content Takes Decent Time
I have discovered that when I want to write something half-way decent, it always seems to always take longer than I think it should. I guess I’m used to the writing I had to do in high school - polished, and well researched - and that takes time. Add to that that unlike school, I don’t have a tight deadline to work under. This for little piece, for example, I’ve had ideas running around my head for the last three months.
The Inverse Law of Usenet Bandwidth
I first came across this in the February 2006 Readers Digest (Canadian Edition). The Law states “The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post, and vice versa.” As a side, the law was created by John Barger, the same guy who would later coin the word “weblog”, from which “blog” is derived. At first, I felt bad that I wasn’t able to keep up to a regular posting schedule, but after reading this, I didn’t feel nearly as bad about keeping up the rest of my life instead.
Long Tail Economics
One of the things the information age is changing is some of the fundamental laws of what to stock and what not to. In a brick-and-mortar store, it costs something to stick a product on a shelf, so you have to sell so many or the product doesn’t make the cut. When that shelf becomes your hard drive and the “shelf cost” becomes a fraction of a penny, the economics have changed. In this second case, if you sell it once, it’s worth while keeping around. This is one of the principals the iTunes works on. Plus, if you have EVERYTHING, people will make you the one stop shop. This is also the principal that encourages Google to allow me to put up their advertising on my site - it costs them next to nothing, and even if I only make them a few dollars every year, if they can get 100,000 sites in the same boat, they’re laughing all the way to the bank, and those sites collectively can become the most important “account” by sheer volume too. So being at the bottom of the pile isn’t the end of the world if there’s a lot of other people down there too (and there sure is!).
The Price of Free — Advertising
I don’t watch much TV, but I am always annoyed by the amount of commercials (it’s something like 15 minutes in an hour). In setting up this blog, I added “Sponsored Links” through Google Adsense anyways to see if I could make a little money. I have since come to understand how hard it is to make a living off of advertising revenue. On the up side, I can see that if you can get a little bit of traffic, hosting cost, as they’ve kept falling these last few years, should be able to be covered. With that hope, I might someday move this from Blogger to my own site. I also have a little more patience for the commercials on TV and the ads in print I continue to run across
So there you have ‘em - a highlight of a year’s worth of blogging related insights. What have you learned from blogging?