I used the word “bitsifter” in a recent article. It’s a term the Dad coined in the middle of the 90’s to describe the process by which we were handling the flood of bits that were increasingly heading in our direction. I liked the name so much that I registered the domain name back in 1996 and started what can only be described as a early weblog called the Bitsifter Digest.
I’m in the process of cleaning up the site for posting at a later date, but the specific conte for the Digest isn’t what I want to talk about; what I want to talk about is its existence… as well as the existence of Rands in Repose.
I published the Digest from 1996 until 1999. The end date was roughly the same time that I left Netscape to join a start-up. Go figure.
Rands in Repose began on April 4, 2002, roughly three years after Bitsifter slowly died. Strangely enough, this was just a few short months before I left the aforementioned start-up for my current gig. So, lesson #1 for today is, start-ups suck all creative energy out of your soul and are, therefore, not conducive to weblogs. Better said: Your start-up is your weblog.
Add it up; I’ve got six years experience in the weblog space. I’ve created two, abandoned one, and continue actively maintain the second. I can’t claim either is successful as my definition of success would be getting paid big bucks weblog which just ain’t going to happen. Still, I weblog all the time. When I’m not at the keyboard, I’m sitting in the car bouncing ideas around. When I’m stuck in a meeting, I’m taking the primal commute ideas and crafting them into outlines of articles. I weblog all damned day. You should to.
I can think of three good reasons why you should weblog:
Exercise your ability to express yourself in words.
If you’re reading this, you’ve chosen to use the web as a means of gathering new ideas. It is a non-trivial ability to take that drunken thought you had last Thursday and translate it a compelling argument that folks should talk about. Writing takes time and practice and time and practice.
When you create a space in your life for a weblog, you’re saying, “Writing matters.” You may not give a shit about writing, you may want to tell the world how much you think are physics is really cool, but to do so, you will need to write coherently.
Shrink the world, Meet people you may not hate.
Once you’ve ably conquered the whole writing thing and your ideas are floating around the weblog-o-sphere, people are going to find you. These people are going to want to talk about what you wrote and, oddly enough, their voice is going to sound familiar. This is because they’ve found something familiar in your voice.
Weblogs match people together regardless of geography thus making the world a pleasantly smaller place.
We’re all looking to fill that painfully long silent pause that exists when we’re waiting to interact with someone that we share a common experience with. This is why Tribe.net is destined to be much more successful than Friendster. Tribe.net leads with the question, “Whom do you want to hang with?” rather than the question “Whom do you want to have sex with?” Sure, Tribe.net users are going to end up having a lot of sex, but they’re going to be doing it with people they’re more likely to have something in common with. Finding people to have sex with is easy, finding people you like is hard. A weblog can help.
In the few three months, I’ve been introduced to two sets of folks that there is no way in hell I would’ve interacted with if it wasn’t for Rands in Repose. Alex King of Tasks (and other fine products) fame and I grabbed lunched a few months back and debated the pros and cons of task management. This week at MacWorld, the gentlemen from Panic and I hit a sushi bar where we compared and contrasted development practices of large companies with independent development teams. (Tip: not much difference)
These relationships exist because of the work I’ve put into this weblog… it’s not the layout, it’s the ideas… which gets me to my last and most important point:
Your opinion matters.
No matter how correct/incorrect/poorly informed it is, it’s more interesting than the front page of the news because it has a unqiue voice. Chances are someone on the planet with a web browser will recognize and favor your particular flavor of insight.
Yes, it’s going to take some courage to throw it out there.
Yes, you are going to find people that are going to hate you for these opinions.
Yes, there are bullies out there. There are trolls. There are twits. They are ignoring you now because you haven’t said anything. The moment you do say something relevant you run the risk of incurring their wrath. The louder you get, the higher probability they’ll descend.
Don’t sweat it, the only reason they pick on you is because they have nothing to say for themselves and you do.