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.
7,000.
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.