I’ve been writing my weblog for about a year and a half, and reading weblogs for about two days longer than I’ve been writing one. I jumped right in when I learned about them. Now, after eighteen months, I have probably read a couple of hundred weblogs. I still read a dozen or so regularly; well, more than that. And I have developed opinions about what makes a weblog worth reading and keeps me from unsubscribing from it:
It has an RSS feed.
RSS feeds are the best: you can use software like NewNewsWire (I use the free “Lite” version”), which will tell you when a weblog has been updated. That way, you don’t have to check repeatedly for new content. It’s also possible to preview entries, so you can decide which ones are worth clicking to. David says he rarely clicks through to a whole entry in the weblogs he monitors.
It has a focus of some kind.
Many of the weblogs I read aren’t personal, but are the weblogs of people who find and comment on news on a specific topic. I follow weblogs on education, standardized testing, books, and religion, among others. Even personal weblogs are, in my opinion, stronger if they focus on one aspect of a person’s life, whether it’s infertility, religious practice, or status as a former celebrity. Weblogs that descirbe themselves as “my random musings” are usually not worth looking at, or at least, not worth sticking with.
It should be updated regularly.
At least twice a week is nice.
Except for the RSS feed part, I’ve mostly failed at creating a weblog that meets my own standards. But that’s OK—I consider this a rough draft, a first attempt, and a learning experience. I look forward to writing a better weblog.
Which you may or may not be able to read. You see, I’ve come to see the advantages of creating an anonymous weblog. I want to be able to say what I really think about my mother, I want to complain about my job where my boss can never see it, I want to express un-Quakerly thoughts without wondering whether my friend Weaver from my Friends meeting is going to decide she doesn’t like me anymore, I want to work out some political issues I’m having without friends piling on me because I’m having some doubts about some of the things we used to all believe…you get it. So I’m closing Genius Toiling in Obscurity for now, and opening up an anonmymous weblog somewhere on the World Wide Web. It’s a little scary to leave behind my small but devoted readership, but it’s exciting to think I can talk freely about some things I’m been mulling over but haven’t wanted to be public with.
So, so long for now. And thanks bunches.
Some time ago, Andy Ihnatko amused himself by listing the windows he had open in his web browser. For your edification, I will now amuse myself the same way.
All the big weblogs, the million-hits-a-month weblogs, the I-also-write-for-the-Washington-Post weblogs, are buzzing about a new article by Clay Shirky which explains, through a theory called Power Law, why all the famous weblogs that will ever be are already famous and why the rest of us will never have more than three readers.
Actually, I shouldn't find this too discouraging--I already have more than three readers, especially if you count me.
Let me say right off the bat that I am not fond of the word "blog," which lacks a certain appealing euphony. I recently read that it was coined as a joke, and I believe it. You'll catch me saying "weblog" a lot instead, which, I think, makes me sound a bit stodgy, falsely formal, or lacking in my geek props, but there are some words it's just not easy to embrace.
A few weeks ago, for instance, I ordered pizza from a "Papa Somebody" type place. I was eating alone, so all I needed was a Little Bambino with Cheese and half an order of Bambino Sticks. I could barely choke the order out.
But my putative topic is weblog naming. I had this whole weblog thing ready to go except I couldn't think of a name. Browsing hundreds of weblogs for ideas, I found that names range from the lame ("Bob's Weblog," "Erin's Weblog," "John R's Blog") to the inane ("Random Rantings," "My random thoughts," "A few random ideas"), to the sublime but already taken ("Bookslut," "Wordridden," "Colossal Waste of Bandwidth").
I decided that it was OK to name your blog after yourself if you had a name people knew ("Wil Wheaton Dot Net"--think what you will of the guy, you've probably heard of him). Naming a blog after yourself when no one has heard of you seems to me like a big neon announcement that it hasn't occurred to you that your weblog might have a focus other than yourself. Or like your name itself, though previously obscure, will be enough to bring hundreds, if not thousands, of web denizens flocking to your virtual door ("I've always wanted to know what a person named Louise Ellison eats for lunch! At last I can find out!"). Since practically no one has heard of me, I decided to keep my name out of my blog title at all costs, thus thinly disguising the fact that keeping a weblog of this type is pretty much an exercise in pure ego.
I am pleased with the name I finally came up with, because it strikes exactly the right note--de rigeur among your better class of webloggers--of self-deprecation combined with self-aggrandizement.
I am hoping to double my readership inside of a week. This means that all five of you had better tell a friend.