My blog has been lying idle for a little while now, as it does from time to time. I’ve had lots to blog about, which means that I’ve had no time at all to write it. It’s a perpetual problem. So many interesting things to say – and no time to communicate them. It’s time I changed that – and I’ve just realised how I should go about that.
It’s related to something that’s been on my mind recently. I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens when you post your thoughts, your writing and your life to social media – particularly Twitter and Facebook, but also on hosted sites like WordPress.com and Blogger. It particularly came up recently in a conversation about Academia.edu – the social network for academics and their articles.
What I’ve been thinking about is what happens when, in the long run, those networks are inevitably sold, their terms and conditions changed to something I’m uncomfortable with, or they’re simply shut down for commercial reasons.
I like the idea of owning our own content. Having our own servers and domains, keeping our writing in our own space. That’s what this is. This is my blog. My writing lives here.
That said, those services are still really useful and I intend to continue to hang out in those places people go. I don’t expect everyone to subscribe to my blog or check in every other day. I can simply link here from elsewhere, when appropriate. After all – tweets are conversation. Facebook posts are about sharing our personal lives with friends and family. Academia.edu posts are specifically targeted for that community. But it also occurs to me that most of what I post is stuff I’m happy to share publicly. So why not post my thoughts here where they feel ‘safe’ and simply link to them on those other channels?
And then I thought: this enables a different kind of writing. Every medium has its own affordances and parameters. Tweets are a certain length. Facebook has certain conventions that we fall into. My blog posts can subvert those. I can tweet longer. Write 140 characters, 140 words or 14,000 words. Post more pictures than I ever would on Facebook. Or none at all. And I can do that as things occur to me, rather than waiting for time to ‘sit down and compose a post’.
What this solves for me is the paralysis of posting to the blog because I’m too busy to stop and write. I can just write and post on the go. After all – I’m forever struggling to fit a thought into a tweet – when just a few more words would do it. I like the idea of creative constraints – but sometimes I just want to say where I am, what I’m doing and what I’m learning in the process.
And perhaps I can do something clever that means I can tag it or categorise it in a particular way so that it also posts a link to Twitter or wherever. I’ll figure that bit out.
In other words – I’m going to be less precious about what goes up here – and as a result, I’ll be writing fewer words, far more often. We’ll see how that works out.
But I’m far too busy doing interesting things these days to not post to my blog. One day, when I finally get a moment, I want to be able to sit down, pour myself a glass of wine, and look back over it to see what happened…