I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

The Blogging Habit

When I first start­ed writ­ing a blog I was 20. It was my first year of uni­ver­si­ty, and I’d some­how stum­bled across a cou­ple of ran­dom blogs, I’m not entire­ly sure how, but I know one thing. As soon as I saw them, I want­ed one.
I dab­bled with a free blog­ger account, and then in my sec­ond year at uni­ver­si­ty I bought my first domain and installed Word­Press. That was the begin­ning of hav­ing my own per­son­al web­site, a place where I post­ed to almost every day, where I taught myself how to build web­sites. I looked at oth­er peo­ples blogs, I copied what they were doing and began adding my own twist on to things. It was fun, a hob­by, a thing I did to stretch my cre­ative mus­cles, a thing to learn on. A thing to think on.
In the four­teen years since I first began to blog, I’ve post­ed to my site at least a few times a year, often sev­er­al times a month, and in a few bursts every­day for a cou­ple of weeks. This year has been one of my most active on years for a long time, but most of that activ­i­ty has been short posts or pho­tos. There has been very lit­tle in the way of full blog posts, every­thing has been verg­ing on the micro end of the scale. Whilst that’s fine, and has coin­cid­ed with me using Twit­ter and Insta­gram less, over the last few months I’ve been fight­ing an itch to try and start writ­ing a longer blog post a day (in the work­ing week at least) but for what­ev­er rea­son I’ve resist­ed it.
Over the week­end I spot­ted a tweet from Austin Kleon in my time­line. He was link­ing back to a post he wrote just over a year ago after he had kick­start­ed his dai­ly blog­ging habit. A cou­ple of sen­tences in that post jumped out at me.

I had no idea how bad­ly my writ­ing mus­cles had atro­phied. After a cou­ple of weeks, I could feel the sen­tences com­ing easier. 

It began to sink in, that rather than think­ing about try­ing to write a post a day, I should just get on and do it. It doesn’t mat­ter real­ly how good they are, the thing is to just get on and do it. But, I still man­aged to put the thought to the back of mind. Then I read the final point of his post.

Maybe I’m weird, but it just feels good. It feels good to reclaim my turf. It feels good to have a spot to think out loud in pub­lic where peo­ple aren’t spit­ting and shit­ting all over the place. 

I iden­ti­fied with that. The whole rea­son I start­ed a blog four­teen years ago was because I want­ed to. I enjoyed it. It felt good to have a place on the Inter­net that was mine, it was fun to have a hob­by. So here I am, post­ing again. In a slight­ly longer for­mat than I have been doing for most of the year. We’ll see how long it lasts, but the main focus, is to have fun and devel­op my hob­by again.

Made some improve­ments to the side­bar of the blog, added in an hcard pow­ered by the Indieweb plu­g­in. It adds a lit­tle some­thing that was miss­ing, a brief and eas­i­ly acces­si­ble about me por­tion along with an avatar to put a face to my name.

This post from Eddie Hin­kle was what prompt­ed me to explore impl­ment­ing Post Kinds on my blog. This is the first offi­cial like from my own site to anoth­er using Indie Web tech­nolo­gies, it seemed fit­ting that I should give it a try with the post that prompt­ed play­ing around with the technology.

An early spring clean

As I’ve been post­ing here more and more recent­ly, I’ve spot­ted a few things about the site which I’m not hap­py with. One of the biggest issues has been around how I sort posts and all the meta data that is relat­ed to them.
For the last few years I’ve used Word­Press’ built in Post For­mats to organ­ise the type of con­tent I post here. They’ve allowed me to dis­play con­tent in dif­fer­ent ways for each type of post I make. Along­side the Post For­mats I’ve been mak­ing use of cat­e­gories, each post got cat­e­gorised with a cat­e­go­ry that cor­re­spond­ed to the type of post it was. This week I realised how redun­dant those cat­e­gories are. Essen­tial­ly I’ve been adding the same infor­ma­tion to a post in two dif­fer­ent ways, con­se­quent­ly posts have not had much con­text in terms of what they are about or how to find sim­i­lar posts.
This morn­ing I’ve spent a bit of time chang­ing that. Posts are now cat­e­gorised in wider sub­ject areas and con­tain many dif­fer­ent types of posts. I plan to sur­face the Post For­mats infor­ma­tion when I redesign the blog to have a design unique to me and that doesn’t make use of one of the stan­dard themes.
One con­se­quence of the re-cat­e­gori­sa­tion of posts is that it’s sur­face how woe­ful­ly I’ve been tag­ging posts. Cur­rent­ly I have 337 tags across 686 posts. That’s a lot of tags, but even with just a cur­so­ry look over the tag list shows I’ve got many vari­a­tions on the same word. One of my next, and prob­a­bly most tedious tasks, will be to sort out and clean up my tag list so that they pro­vide bet­ter gran­u­lar categorisation.
It should pro­vide a more use­ful hier­ar­chy of meta data to the site, Post For­mat (type of post) \> Cat­e­go­ry (wider sub­ject) \> Tags (small­er sub­ject infor­ma­tion). Hope­ful­ly it means I’ll be able to find my own posts bet­ter, Word­Press’ rec­om­mend­ed posts might actu­al­ly be use­ful and return to the site, and read­ers will be able to find more posts relat­ed to the one they’re reading.

There’s an odd pres­sure when you’re try­ing to exer­cise the mus­cle of dis­ci­pline, it’s tempt­ing to want every­thing you do as a part of that to be the best that it can be. Some­times you need to just push through and exer­cise that mus­cle. When you’re start­ing out, quan­ti­ty is often more impor­tant than qual­i­ty. You need to get used to doing some­thing reg­u­lar­ly before you can focus on doing it bet­ter, oth­er­wise the fear of not good enough can hold you back and pre­vent you from mak­ing the progress you want to make.

Micro.blog Photo Challenge

Doug Lane has post­ed his idea for a Micro.blog Pho­to Chal­lenge and Man­ton has already added a pin to Micro.blog for those who man­age to com­plete the challenge.
This is one of the things I’m real­ly enjoy­ing about Micro.blog at this ear­ly stage, the com­mu­ni­ty is so active­ly engaged and Man­ton is so quick to respond to good ideas that fit with the vision of the ser­vice. I’ll be aim­ing to take part in the chal­lenge so keep your eyes peeled for my con­tri­bu­tions over the next week.

Seth’s Blog: This Is Post 7,000 ›

Seth Godin made his 7,000th post to his blog yesterday.
That’s one post a day for just over 19 years. That’s both inspir­ing and hum­bling at the same time. Inspir­ing because it makes turn­ing up to post on a blog every­day doable and some­thing that is entire­ly achiev­able. Hum­bling because I haven’t man­aged to com­plete a whole months worth of posts every­day for a long time, let alone a whole year.
There’s one thing that we can learn from any­one who is able to repeat­ed­ly turn up like Seth has been for the last 19 years. It’s a skill we can all learn. Post­ing to a blog every­day for 19 years isn’t only for peo­ple who have a large fol­low­ing, we’re all capa­ble of doing it, it just takes a bit of dis­ci­pline. So here’s to the next 19 years Seth, and every­one who blogs with any regularity.

Self Portraits ›

This is a real­ly inter­est­ing post from Col­in Walk­er about what we have effec­tive­ly been doing on social media for the last 10 years. Paint­ing a self por­trait of our­selves over time.
I’ve nev­er thought about it like that before, and when you add in you’re own blog or per­son­al site, it makes for a rich and tex­tured ongo­ing piece. His con­clu­sions at the end of the post are challenging…

We can tell the sto­ries we think oth­er peo­ple want to hear. We can tell skewed sto­ries as we are often not tru­ly hon­est with our­selves. We tell oth­er people’s sto­ries rather than our own, with­out com­ment, with­out opinion.
What use are the wrong sto­ries and are we doing our­selves a dis­ser­vice by telling them? 

I think, that with­out real­is­ing it, over the last few months of try­ing to revi­talise my blog and using Micro.blog I and many oth­ers are try­ing to reclaim our sto­ries and take hold of the paintbrush.
Post­ing to Twit­ter through your own site first changes the focus of the ser­vice entire­ly. We go from being a pas­sive con­sumer, lik­ing, retweet­ing, reply­ing, with the occa­sion­al orig­i­nal post, to an orig­i­nal post being the focus. We are cre­at­ing and adding to our own sto­ry rather than expand­ing and adding to some­one else’s. Of course it’s not wrong to be involved in oth­er people’s lives, we are cre­at­ed to be in com­mu­ni­ty, but by cre­at­ing first the involve­ment turns into a con­ver­sa­tion rather than just turn­ing the vol­ume up for some­one else. There’s a bal­ance to be found.

Seth Godin Explains Why You Should Blog Daily ›

With the arrival of Micro.blog my inter­est in my blog has picked up con­sid­er­ably. It’s always been there bub­bling at the back of my mind, but active­ly post­ing micro posts to it has me once again look­ing to post oth­er con­tent more reg­u­lar­ly. CJChil­vers linked to an arti­cle by Seth Godin that Explains Why You Should Blog Dai­ly res­onat­ed deeply with me and the grow­ing desire to post to this site more reg­u­lar­ly. It’s both a cre­ative out­let both and a men­tal out­let that I know will be good for me. I intend to mix the con­tent I post between links, quotes and orig­i­nal articles/thoughts along­side the afore men­tioned micro posts.

We are all bloggers

I cre­at­ed my first blog back in 2005 while I was at uni­ver­si­ty. I had come across a num­ber of blogs that I enjoyed read­ing and look­ing at the design of them. I want­ed in on the game, a means of hav­ing my own piece of the inter­net, a way of learn­ing about web design, and a place to write. It became a bit of a hob­by, one which I enjoyed and one which I have bat­tled with try­ing to regain over recent years.
The last few months have been inter­est­ing on the inter­net. There has been an increas­ing aware­ness that the large social net­works cre­ate a bit of a caul­dron. A boil­ing pot of like­ness. The abil­i­ty of sites like Face­book and Twit­ter to learn what kind of things you are inter­est­ed in means they con­tin­u­al­ly sur­face things that you like and are inter­est­ed in. It’s a log­i­cal behav­iour, but it’s one which lacks the abil­i­ty to show you what peo­ple out­side of your bub­ble are actu­al­ly think­ing and say­ing. They cre­ate con­trolled envi­ron­ments that per­pet­u­ate sim­i­lar trains of thought.
Ser­vices like Medi­um also serve sim­i­lar pur­pos­es, they want you to use their web­site and app as your only source of find­ing new con­tent on the inter­net. It uses sim­i­lar tech­niques to the big­ger social net­works and it presents it in a large­ly homogenised appear­ance to make it all look the same and give it the same visu­al voice. It takes own­er­ship of your con­tent and with it adds your voice to that bub­bling pot of likeness.
There’s a big dan­ger to that boil­ing pot. Each per­son ends up with their own, fed by sim­i­lar­i­ty and linked to oth­er sim­i­lar pots by the con­tent that fits them both. It takes away dis­course. It takes away rea­son. It takes away the abil­i­ty to have con­ver­sa­tion and the abil­i­ty to dis­agree well. It leads to a world where dif­fer­ent opin­ions are denounced as big­otry, espe­cial­ly when they are con­trary to the pop­u­lar cul­ture of the time. It’s some­thing I am begin­ning to see more and more of, and some­thing which I am begin­ning to feel influ­ence my own think­ing. That’s why I’m start­ing to see a fresh how impor­tant it is that we keep the web open. That we keep the abil­i­ty to post to our own cor­ners of the web and share it with those we know and in pub­lic domains that are easy to find. It’s why we need bloggers.
The prob­lem is, that many peo­ple don’t see them­selves as blog­gers. It’s a geeky past time, that’s seen as old hat and no longer the done thing. What’s most inter­est­ing is that any­one who uses sites like Twit­ter, Face­book, and even Insta­gram, are blog­gers. Post­ing a tweet is a blog post. It’s a small one grant­ed, but at it’s essence that’s what it is. Like­wise with Face­book, any sta­tus posts, notes or what­ev­er oth­er myr­i­ad of things you can post orig­i­nal­ly to the site, are at their essence blog posts. We are all blog­gers, whether we are aware of it or not. The dif­fi­cul­ty is that we need to find ways of encour­ag­ing peo­ple to post these things to their own sites first, to take own­er­ship of their thoughts and opin­ions, no mat­ter how long they are. This is why I’m so excit­ed by ser­vices like Micro.blog which encour­age you to start your own Twit­ter-like per­son­al site, which you own and can direct to oth­er places. I’m not just excit­ed by the idea of encour­ag­ing peo­ple to own their own posts, but by the fact that it could, like it is doing to me, get peo­ple inter­est­ed in the idea of shar­ing their own thoughts and opin­ions in longer form as well. That’s what the web was built on. It’s what the web needs.