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.

Thoughts as Nest Eggs ›

Today when you say “nest egg” many think of mon­ey saved and put away, but a lit­er­al “nest egg” is a real or fake egg that you put in a nest to encour­age a bird or a hen to lay more eggs there. So what Thore­au is say­ing is that by sim­ply writ­ing down a thought, you encour­age more thoughts to come. When you have enough thoughts pushed togeth­er in the same space — a col­lage of thoughts, jux­ta­posed — they often lead to some­thing total­ly new.
This is the mag­ic of writing. 

Austin Kleon wrapped up a recent post with the quote above. The post on one lev­el is about jour­nal­ing and writ­ing in gen­er­al, but do you know what else that quote describes? A blog.
A blog is noth­ing more than a series of thoughts writ­ten down over a peri­od of time. When you think about it that way it’s incred­i­bly free­ing. There should be no pres­sure. Instead there should just be turn­ing up to write down a thought and see­ing where it takes you.

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.

Tinker

The desire to tin­ker is strong in this one.
I have this prob­lem when it comes to my blog. The more I start to post to it, the more I want to tin­ker. The more active I am on the site, the more I notice lit­tle things I don’t like and want to fix. The more I post to it, the more I want all my inter­net post­ing to orig­i­nate on it. It’s like an illness.
It’s some­thing I’ve always strug­gled with, and I con­fess it’s a side to blog­ging that I enjoy. The trou­ble is, the more I tin­ker the less I post. The more I craft the design, the less time I spend writing.
It’s a bat­tle, although one I’m sure I do not face alone. It’s not just the bat­tle of a blog­ger, it’s a bat­tle of a design­er. Most of the tin­ker­ing I do is design relat­ed, lit­tle details and quirks in my theme which I notice but very few oth­ers will. I also know from expe­ri­ence, that I will get to the point where I’ve caught the lit­tle tweaks I need to and they will be fixed. Then it’s just a case of resist­ing the big­ger things I’d like to do. Or at least knock­ing off the major ones first, like find­ing a way to post pho­tos here and on Insta­gram, dis­play­ing them in a way I’m hap­py with. The key though, is to keep the posts flow­ing. Keep to my chal­lenge of post­ing every­day, and get­ting through the tin­ker­ing stage until I get to the point where I’m just post­ing each day and all my pub­lished con­tent orig­i­nates here.
Or is it just a pipe dream? Should I just keep post­ing and ignore the lit­tle bits that nag?
But I know I can’t just ignore the nag­ging. I’m a design­er, I like details and its in my nature to keep refin­ing bits until they’re gone. To keep craft­ing until they as close to per­fect as can be, it’s just impor­tant to keep the per­spec­tive, to keep in mind that per­fect does­n’t exist. It’s about get­ting things to good enough whilst keep­ing on post­ing each day and build­ing momen­tum so that the writ­ing takes over the tin­ker­ing and becomes a cre­ative out­let in its own right.

Blogroll

Back when I first start­ed writ­ing on the inter­net – ok it’s called blog­ging, ugh – I dis­cov­ered a lot of blogs through the side­bars of those I was read­ing. The trend at the time, way back in 2006, was for each blog to fea­ture a Blogroll. A col­lec­tion of links to the blogs of oth­er peo­ple that the author of each site either knew per­son­al­ly or who sim­ply enjoyed those oth­er sites. It was a great way of find­ing new blogs to fol­low and it’s sad that the prac­tice seems to have pret­ty much disappeard.
It might be ten years since I start­ed my first blog, and with it my first Blogroll, but I fig­ured it was time to revive it. What fol­lows, in no par­tic­u­lar order, is a list of blogs which I read reg­u­lar­ly on a wide range of top­ics. I hope there are some you haven’t come across and that you to will enjoy reading.

The Rules of Combat

In the words of Tyler Durden

Do not talk about Fight Club.
Do not talk about Fight Club.
DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.

Ok… maybe not. This isn’t Fight Club and that’s a fair­ly old cliché. These rules are the rules of my lit­tle chal­lenge. This is where I’m defin­ing what counts and what doesn’t.
This site has a few dif­fer­ent types of post that can appear on it, for the pur­pos­es of clar­i­ty they are

  • sta­tus
  • pho­to
  • quote
  • video
  • aside
  • link
  • stan­dard article

Each one is designed for a spe­cif­ic type of con­tent and has a cus­tom style to help dif­fer­en­ti­ate them.

Status Posts

Sta­tus posts, or snip­pets, are micro posts. They auto­mat­i­cal­ly share to my Twit­ter as a post there, I don’t always use them but I plan to start more, espe­cial­ly with the pend­ing arrival of Manton’s snippets.today.

Photos and Videos

Meant for any pho­tos or videos I cre­ate and want to share through this blog. Pho­tos are cross post­ed to Insta­gram and Flickr.

Quote

Any per­ti­nent quotes that I come across and wish to share with­out commentary.

Asides

Any short posts that don’t war­rant a full post but are longer than a snip­pet. This type might be retired.

Links

Links to arti­cles that I think are of inter­est and have some­thing I want to add or high­light. The title of these types of posts point peo­ple away from this site to the arti­cle I’m link­ing too.

Standard Article Posts

These are the nor­mal blog posts, the orig­i­nal con­tent. These are the ones that I want to be the major­i­ty of my posts to be.

What Counts?

The posts that count the most will be the stan­dard blog posts, the orig­i­nal con­tent. When I say the most, I mean that the aim is for the major­i­ty of my posts to be these ones. Cre­ative­ly they have more val­ue since they are my own thoughts and ideas and serve as an alter­na­tive cre­ative out­let to my design work. These aren’t the only posts that will count though. Posts that are a link will also count. How­ev­er, there’s a bit of a rule to go with these. They must include a piece of com­men­tary that either adds my own thoughts, or that high­lights a par­tic­u­lar­ly per­ti­nent part of what­ev­er is being linked to.
Snip­pets or sta­tus posts will not count. Since they’re like Twit­ter posts in nature, I don’t want to take the easy way out and fall back on them as my dai­ly post. Like­wise with quotes and pho­tos, the aim is for these types of posts to sup­ple­ment the longer form and curat­ed linked content.
Why add these rules to the chal­lenge? My aim is to write more, and as a design­er I’m all too aware that a few con­straints to a project make things a bit eas­i­er. Con­straints bring clar­i­ty, focus and free­dom to a project, it’s only nat­ur­al they will also bring it to this one.