Monday, May 14, 2007

an enigma wrapped in a blog

There's a meme going around blogospace by the name of "Bloggy Tag" -- or possibly it's a game, or perhaps it's both -- so let's finesse the question and call it a "geme". In any case, it's a simple geme: One addresses the question "Why on Earth do I blog?", and then one tags five other bloggers with the same question. No, no money changes hands, you don't have to sign people up as "distributors", nothing shady like that. And tagging the other bloggers is quite painless, no visible radio collars or anything. No, it's just a geme. (On the other hand, there's also no chance of winning a pink Cadillac either, that I'm aware of. But them's the breaks, I guess.)

So I was tagged the other day by Samuel, proprietor of the ZehnKatzen Times. Here's his Bloggy Tag post, in which he refers to this humble blog as "an enigma wrapped in a blog", which I rather like, hence the title. (His blogroll also lists this blog under "They have seen the fnords". Which is 100% true, incidentally.)

I don't intend to be a leaf node in the great Bloggy Tag tree, so I really will tag my 5 bloggers, honest... although I haven't quite done so just yet. It seems to me it'd be a bit of a faux pas to tag someone who's already been tagged before, since that suggests one hasn't been reading the taggee's blog very closely, and didn't do one's homework. So let's just mark that part as a TODO and move on to the main event.

I'd been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while before I gave in to temptation. I'd spent a lot of time in mostly tech-related discussion forums, and over time I found that I got sidetracked quite easily by off-topic subjects. Often it was political stuff, and nothing tears a forum apart like an unwanted political thread. At the same time, every so often I'd be thinking about something and I'd find myself itching to write about it, but not knowing how or where to do it. Eventually I got to thinking, you know, a blog would be a good way to do that, and I could go off on my usual 50 different directions however I pleased, without getting in anyone else's way, or them getting in mine. I held off for a while, because everyone who doesn't have a blog knows for a fact that all bloggers are preening, self-important losers, and I certainly didn't want to become one of those. Eventually I figured out it was way too late for me to start worrying about that, so I might as well take the plunge. So I did.

I also had the idea that blogging would be a good writing exercise, in a way that office email rarely is. I have a tendency to use longwinded run-on sentences full of commas, and to switch back and forth between past and present tense in a rather random and awkward way. I also overuse certain words and phrases if I'm not careful, such as "rather", "basically", "of course", and "for example", for example. I say these things in the present tense not out of linguistic incompetence (for once), but because I'm not certain I've gotten any better over the past 16+ months. In the larger scheme of things that really isn't all that long, I suppose. So there may be hope for me yet. Although if I'd been going to the gym as religiously as I've done this over the last 16 months, I might have those six-pack abs by now. And to think I was briefly an English major, back in my long-departed college days. It occurs to me that if blogging truly is an art, affecting a really singular style might be a Good Thing. If blogs had existed decades ago, I'm convinced certain writers would've found the medium irresistable. Faulkner, for one, and probably Thomas Wolfe as well. Hemingway might've been more of a Twitter user, texting in "IM HNTNG RHINO" and then "IM 8 RHINO 4 BRKFST UR NOT LOL". But I digress.

So the jury's still out on stylistic tics and such, but I've found that writing ideas down in a blog, knowing that someone might eventually wander by and read them, is a good way to crystallize and capture what you're thinking about. Much better than just sitting around daydreaming, at any rate.

In the beginning I really thought this would be more of a political blog than it's turned out to be. After a post or two explaining in great detail precisely what is wrong with Dick Cheney, for example, I tend to feel I've addressed the issue to my own satisfaction, and I move on to something else. It's the curse of having eclectic interests, I guess. I'd probably have far more regular readers if I picked a topic and stuck to it. Come to think of it, that's exactly what I've done on SNR, this blog's nerdy and utterly single-minded sibling. More about which in a moment.

So there was an initial rush of pent-up opinions, and I tend to think those posts don't rank among my most immortal prose, relatively speaking. After that, I started in with the photos. I really didn't anticipate I'd be posting all these photos of flowers. I figured I'd occasionally post a photo or two just to illustrate some point I was trying to make. From there, the photo side of things grew like kudzu. It wasn't something I contemplated when I started the blog, but it's a big reason why I keep doing it. Some of the credit has to go to the nice folks at Canon, for making a camera that delivers good results on a consistent basis, even though I'm the one using it. That had to take a fair bit of engineering skill.

After a while, I began to realize that there was a lot of stuff that didn't work here, despite this blog's eclectic subject matter (or lack thereof). I'd sort of gotten wrapped up in the SCO vs. Universe situation, toiling on the side of the Universe, i.e. the good guys. I'd occasionally post things of interest to the anti-SCO community here, but then they'd come back a week later and the top story here would be about some photos of roses I took the other day, or a terrible sword-n-sorcery movie I just saw, or something stupid the president just said. Conversely, I imagine that the majority of this blog's nano-cadre of Gentle Reader(s) don't care too much about my techie obsessions. So I started a second blog, the aforementioned SNR, dedicated to ending the SCO menace, and salting the earth from which it arose, and having fun in the process. SNR actually gets far more visits than the main page here ever does, with regular readers from all over the world (although the majority of my hits are Google Image searches leading to this blog.) But low readership or not, this blog is the firstborn, and it's always been the more rewarding of the two to work on.

I didn't anticipate the photo thing, and I don't know what to anticipate next. So I guess you could also say I keep doing this just to see where (if anywhere) it leads me next. Or not. Or whatever. Because in the end, it's just a geme.

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