Focal Curve

Up for Review

The always-insightful D. Keith Robinson has sparked another interesting round of discussion with his two recent posts, attempting to pin down just what factors make a weblog worth reading. I, being a whiney lonely little nobody, lamented my lack of readership. But it wasn’t just whining, really, I swear. There’s a point to it.

My greatest stumbling block is thinking of things to write about. Or rather, deciding what is actually worth writing about. As a reader, I want the blogs I frequent to offer content of actual substance, to be about something, not idle ramblings about some person’s ordinary life. And of course I want to be the kind of blogger that I want to read. Aye, there’s the rub.

I seek out information on the topics that interest me. By the time I read about them the subject has already been covered, so I tend to assume there’s not much need for me to expound further. Should I bother finishing my tutorial on the intricacies of converting an unordered list into a menu, or should I just point to this article, and this one, and this helpful blog post? It hardly seems worthwhile to rehash and regurgitate what I’ve read elsewhere. I’d enjoy writing it and get some personal satisfaction out of it, but why would anyone else read it when they can find it in all in the same places I did? Perhaps I falsely presume that if I know something, so does everyone else. It’s common knowledge, isn’t it? Of course you have to apply a border-bottom to those block-level list items to keep IE from adding line breaks, everybody knows that!

So I probably pass over many topics I could write on, just because I know what I’ve seen before. And with no readership to tell me what they’re interested in reading, I continue to figuratively bite my tongue. I currently have at least four unfinished articles held in draft stasis, likely never to be seen because I think the subjects have been well covered already. Maybe I’ll finish that list tutorial after all, since at the very least I could put it all in one place. And maybe plenty of people don’t know the inner workings of the spam trade and would welcome Yet Another Spam Article that defines all the terms all over again. I need to get over my fear of redundancy and just write whatever the hell I damn well please. If people don’t read it, so be it, people don’t read lots of things.

Then along comes the Great Whitespace Blog Review, with Scrivs offering to give some exposure to 20 obscure blogs he deems worthy. I’m slightly hesitant to submit myself, just because I don’t want to be That Guy. But you know what… I am That Guy. I want to be heard. I want to join the community. Blogging is very much a cathartic outlet, a platform for self expression, a playground for my fancies, and I enjoy it as such. I’m free to blather on about the things I’m passionate about. But as I’ve been at it in some form or other for about three years and still have no real sense of an audience, it becomes difficult to legitimize the effort. If I’m going to put this much time into maintaining something, I’d really like to make some contribution to the world. I’d like to know someone is listening.

So, I’ll submit myself to Scrivs for review. And if you reached me by clicking through, thanks very much for reading this far. But now I’d like some feedback. Take a look around, dig through the archives, view my source even. Then leave a comment. Tell me what you like and don’t like, what you want to see more of or less of, what kind of stuff I should be writing about that would make you bookmark or blogroll me. I might even listen to suggestions. I blog because I want to, but I’ll feel much better about it if you want me to blog too.

7 Comments on 'Up for Review'

  1. Kevin said:

    First: if you want to repeat something (like styling an unordered list), go ahead. Just dig deeper. Make sure people who are just starting out with CSS understand what you are saying. Sure, there are quite a lot of resources on this already, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a new perspective.

    Second: don’t doubt yourself. I don’t like to read things like ‘Or maybe I’m just wrong’ or something similar. Be confident. You just offered me some insight into CSS issues with IE5/Mac, which, since I don’t own a Mac, was very helpful.

    Third: you should write about the things you want to write about. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got a great writing style. It would be a shame to let it go to waste on things you don’t really care about.

    Fourth: the only thing I don’t like about the design is the header image. It seems out of place. And maybe your menu could use some more height (nit picking here).

    So don’t worry, at least I’ll be coming back here from time to time. ;-)

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  2. Jay Cartwright said:

    The content you have here is very interesting and your writing style is just amazing. This is the type of site I am aiming for.

    I am new to the whole blogging phenomenon, in that I am just now trying to get my own blog off the ground, but my frustration comes from another place. Many others have far more experience with computing in general than I do, and especially in web design, so I often wonder what can I possibly add. However, for me web design is a hobby not a career I am pursuing; I am training to be a high school computer teacher. So I am thinking my focus should probably be the education part of computing where it doesn’t seem like a zillion people are speaking on the same topic.

    Anyway, I just want to say that from what I have read you are on the right track and have lots to write about because there are always people like me out there with less experience who can learn from your perspective and what you have gone through in your field.

    In relation to the design of this site, there only 2 things that I don’t like, the header and the white gradient behind the menu items. The header just doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the site with respect to color. Though color is something I grapple with, something about it just doesn’t seem to work. I think the white gradient behind the menu items is just a matter or personal taste.

    Now that I have typed way to much for a comment, I will just say that I will definitely be coming back often.

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  3. Craig said:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. That’s two votes against the header already. I’ve never been quite satisfied with it either. While I think it’s a damn cool image on its own and I’m rather proud of my Photoshoppery, it’s never felt like it fully integrated into the rest of the site. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for a future redesign, so my floating logo will surely disappear eventually, but not any time soon.

    “You may remember me from such self-help tapes as ‘Smoke Yourself Thin’ and ‘Get Confident, Stupid!'”

    – T. McLure

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  4. Mike said:

    I agree with Kevin, you have to be confident (or act confident). We all have to be slightly egotistical to think that anyone wants to read our blogs but that’s O.K. Don’t worry about whether you deserve an audience. The hard work you put in is enough justification, I think. And don’t worry about numbers. Is Glenn Reynolds really the greatest blogger because he gets millions of hits? (They stay for an average of 8.2 seconds by the way!) Meena Trott said recently that she sometimes feels that she would rather have 10 or 20 readers who really understood her rather than the thousands she gets because of MT and Typepad. That sound cool to me.
    Like your blog btw, good luck :)

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  5. Craig C. said:

    Well it was never a lack of confidence driving my angst. It was just the whole “what’s the point” kind of thing. If a blogger posts in the forest and nobody is there to read…

    Already the exposure from Whitespace has led several new visitors this way, and I’m getting tons of google traffic on the Guerra scam post, so it’s been encouraging. Now I just gotta find the time to write.

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  6. Stephen said:

    Whatever you do don’t stop posting, I’ve enjoyed reading your site since I found it (on whitespace). You can count me as a regular from this point forward.

    Interesting, well written subjects.

    I’m also interested in your archives page, is it custom or a WP plugin? (if you don’t mind.)

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  7. Craig C. said:

    The archives page uses the MtDewVirus hack, but I’m looking into other options in the near future. I don’t like the idea of the archives turning into a huge scrollathon, yet I don’t want to break it down month-by-month either. I’m thinking 3-month chunks would be cool, with some means of navigating from chunk to chunk. We’ll see what I come up with.

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