Why Do I Blog?

May 29, 2023 | misc

Easy answer: I don’t. At least I haven’t for a while. This is my first blog post in years. I’m starting all over yet again.

OK, why did I blog?

I blogged because it was fun!

I enjoyed writing about things I was interested in, or sharing ideas that I felt like I knew enough about to be useful. It felt great to write something that people found useful and shared and kept coming back to. So many things were kind-of-new at the time, or changing rapidly, and it was easy to find a niche and write about something that few people had written about before, like Perl and Ruby and Clojure, or stupid Vim and Emacs tricks. The internet’s descent into a hellscape of ads and DRM. There was no shortage of new technologies to write about, and a lot of them were exciting in a hopeful kind of way.

I also liked the attention. Every once in a while a blog post of mine would be shared on some tech site or other, and suddenly thousands of people were talking about a thing I wrote. It made me feel like I’d made it! It also led me to write things that were intentionally provocative at times, which in retrospect is a little embarrassing… but only a little. It’s hard not to have someone loudly disagree with you when you’re writing opinions about programming tools and practices.

Most of all, I loved learning, and writing is a great way to learn. If I was really lucky, someone would read the thing I wrote and talk to me about it, and we’d learn from each other. But even if not, explaining a topic in words, in detail, helped me fill in the gaps in my understanding. I’d discover little facts that I didn’t realize I was missing, and draw conclusions I didn’t realize I had drawn until I started writing them down. I think writing strengthens and deepens my thinking like few other things can.

And I liked writing for writing’s sake. Writing is a way to play with language, and I loved exploring language.

I still love all of those things, probably even more, now that I’m older.

Why did I stop blogging?

Via my blog, and participating in the Clojure community, I ended up writing a book. I think that was the beginning of the end of blogging for me. I used to blog without a care in the world. If I wrote something dumb, someone would correct me, and that was great.

In contrast, working on a book is high-pressure. Now I wasn’t writing in some little corner of the internet that no one was going to see — stuff I wrote was going to end up on paper in book stores and libraries. I had to live up to the community that would be relying on this book as a tool. I had to live up to my co-authors, who were crazy smart guys. The last thing I wanted was to put a glaring error in print.

Somehow that leaked over into my mindset around blogging. Suddenly I felt immense pressure to write things that were “high quality”. I started second-guessing myself pretty hard. Perfect being the enemy of good, it was easy to stop writing.

At the same time, I ran into health problems, and family problems, and a lot of Real Life Stuff™️ that reached a point where I could no longer ignore it. This led me to learn about neurodivergency, mental illness, and my own limitations. I also learned about my strengths, and how to persevere, and live a good life. It was necessary, and positive in the end. But life basically took my already flagging confidence and slam-dunked it into the toilet, when it came to blogging.

Why am I blogging again?

It was fun once. Maybe it’ll be fun again?

I feel like I’ve come full circle in some ways. I don’t feel a strong need to be perfect in my writing, like I did for a while. I wouldn’t say I feel super-confident that I’m going to write anything that anyone ever cares about ever again. But I’m not really bothered by that any longer, which I guess is a kind of confidence too.

I miss participating in the world of ideas. I’m still learning new things like crazy. I never stopped, and I can’t stop. The world is so interesting. I want every hobby. All of them. But it’s been a long time since I wrote about them. I’ve been an observer and a lurker for a long time now. Too long. I’m in the mood to explore again.

I also feel like it’s generally the right time for humans to write things. The internet today is a dystopian nightmare, and it’s probably going to get worse. I have no illusions about the Old Internet being a paradise, by any means, but I miss things about it. Things like blogs. I miss blogs. I miss how quaint and small everything felt at times. Now it’s bots and social media and (soon) AIs talking to AIs. Maybe there are still pockets of the good stuff to be found here and there? Or maybe I can make one? Worth a shot.