About six months ago Gillian Gunson let me know that all the leet h4ck0rz use vi. I found this hard to believe since it took me back twenty years or so to some UC Extension unix class in Santa Clara taught on screaming fast 16 bit microprocessors and I suppose I knew that there was still grepping going on in the world, but....
Ms. Gunson is a little shy about sharing tips and tricks, and right now she is deep into "Watership Down" which she hopes provides some context for her answer "How do you blog?"
I know I commented on your blog that I was going to come up with another sarcastic quote for your general question, but I couldn't think of anything good. You left the interpretation of the "how" up to us, and I just can't come up with an interesting answer to any possible versions of the question. I could've written about how I administer and run my webserver at home so that I can have full control over my blog. Bo-ring. Or I could've tried the smart-ass angle of a year ago and say something like, "I blog by sitting in front of a keyboard and hitting at the keys with my fingers, duh!" Still bo-ring. Also insulting. You gave me too much freedom, and I am like a rabbit in a cage, with the cage door left open. I just sit there, because I wouldn't know what to do with the door.
I'm sure I'll have a better answer for your question next year, "Where". I have a couple answers for that one. Or, if you switch to something like "What are you wearing", or "What are you not wearing". I could write pages on those. Until then....
Gillian, I will save the "What are you wearing?" question for late night phone calls, if you don't mind. Meanwhile, thank you for sharing. No, seriously....
I was reminded of gg (for whom I have the greatest fondness and who knows I am only teasing about the phone sex since her dad - who, incidentally, gives his best PC chair to the cat - would hunt me down and have serious words with me if I was actually creepy).
Gillian's "bat clogging" post (see prior link) got me thinking about Niek Hockx, of shutterclog who said, "I don't blog. I clog... ;-)"
But Gillian also got me thinking about Miss Andrea Roceal James, who is blogsitting fishrush while Kent Squarks, and Andrea (another vi user as it turns out, and most recently from the NorthWest like Gillian, before she went down under) Andrea put together a nicely crafted post at geekicon in which she said this about that:
In my little command window, I type ssh jngm.net and connect to my ISP. Then I type vi. And then somehow words flow out of my fingers and I'm writing the thing that has been rolling around in my brain for a while.
You should read the whole thing, and when you've done that, check out the post Betsy Devine shared with us this week on this topic. In that post Betsy says "Tool-istically, I use Manila on weblogger.com because that's where I started out. When I started blogging, Paul Boutin was the only blogger whose blog i had ever read--and he used Manila on weblogger.com. QED." And that makes me think of Dave Winer, author of Manila, amonmg so many other things. Dave posted on how he blogs. The post was to the point and surfaced OPML as the cornerstone for his blogging these days.
Blogging from Italy, Gaspar Torriero says, "First and foremost, I *read* blogs, and this is 90% of my blogging. I fire my aggregator first thing in the morning and start reading. What I read prompts me to respond, comment, add, digress: I do it in a post. It really *is* a conversation."
Another creative genius, Gary Turner of memoria technica, turned up with a thoughtful message. Gary, the managing director of a UK software firm, but perhaps better known for his inventions such as fake helipads (it's a status thing) and the Web Torch (use your CRT to light your way after dark), said:
I have recently fallen in with the tagging crowd and I have abandoned categories as too clunky a method of obtaining some order and meta-structure to my blog. I love the free, make it up as you go along nature of tagging compared with the plan ahead approach required to achieve good categorization.
Rarely, when I put together a long post or a post which I care about, I occasionally go back and tidy up grammar and spelling - mostly to make me sound all big and clever - an effect I rarely achieve first time out the traps. But mostly I don’t erase, wholescale edit or modify posts.
Among other ingenious schemes Gary came up with is "chalkchalking." A few years ago a practice called War chalking emerged among h4ck0rz doing a reccie for free wi-fi. Gary, brilliant entrepreneur that he is, immediately saw that the foundational supply item for this market is chalk.
I remember Doc Searls writing a few posts about war chalking. When I asked him how he blogs, he said:
I blog by writing.
That is, I blog the same way I write emails, chats and sometimes articles: conversationally.
I write in response to what other people write, sometimes in response to what I've already written, sometimes as a way of blabbing whatever is on my mind at the time.
"Hey look at this!" is a big part of my blogging. Sometimes.
"You might think..." is another big part.
"Anybody know more about...?" is another part.
Blogging is different than article writing in one significant respect: often it's provisional. It's not finished. It's not issued from a virtual lectern or pulpit. It's what I think might be so, offered in a way that invites others to add more, to disagree, or whatever.
In any case, it's participatory. There is feedback involved. It goes both ways.
I've sometimes compared blogging to rolling snowballs down a hill. You can look it up.
Blogging is like that, too. It's look-upable. I like that.
Doc also pointed me to a nice interview that David Newberger did with him. Doc has a lot of good answers to the "How do you blog?" question layered in this interview.
Liz Ditz, another left coast blogger has a post at I Speak of Dreams that covers her platform and her process. Liz says she's developed policies and principles at Lisa Williams' urging, guidelines that set expectations regarding her work. She says,
If I can't verify the truth, (see below), I won't post it. If it isn't in service of the good, I won't write about it (I've violated this one several times in the past, let me tell you). If it isn't useful to me or to others, I won't post it.
I maintain this blog to write about issues and events that interest me, horrify me, enrage me, amuse me, or enlighten me. This blog reflects my views and opinions. Feel fee to disagree, be bored, or offended. I do hope you will find things with which to agree, be entertained, or pleased.
Truth, assertion, and speculation:
I will clearly label matters that I know to be true, assertions of my opinion, and speculation as to the truth.
Does It Belong To Me, and Me Alone?
I will try to respect the privacy of others. I won't write about the private lives and issues of those around me, no matter how I hear about them. (This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and yes I have failed this test in the past.) CAVEAT: If someone has published information about herself in her own blog, I will feel free to blog about that information. I won't reveal email addresses.
Bob Frankston, who blogs with Dan Bricklin and David Reed -- together three of my all time tech heroes, was kind enough to share a brief technical response. Bob said,
I do more essays than blogging but I also participate in email discussions.
I maintain a database of public posts and generate an index and RSS feed at http://www.frankston.com/public/writings.asp. The index points to my posts on SATN, Frankston and other public forums.
I have my own display engine for longer essays and other postings at that site.
I use blogger and my own posting tools for http://www.satn.org
I asked Jenny Attiyeh how she blogs and she said,
I don't really blog, I podcast. And I feel perpetually guilty about it. There's a divide of sorts between audio blogs and text blogs. But what exactly that divide is, or isn't, is an interesting question to me. With the web taking off primarily as a means for people to interact, argue, agree, podcasters are at a bit of a disadvantage. We still are in the business, or pleasure, of putting content out there for people to listen to, or not. Sounds like the MSM to me. There's of course plenty of room to comment on my site. but it's not so easy to do so if you first have to listen to the content! Which in my case usually runs half an hour in length.
So how do I blog? Poorly. Over time, if and when I attract more eyeballs/ears, I hope to build on the idea of participation -- of getting input from bloggers (and their readers) on the various guests I'll be interviewing -- in advance. The more disagreement the better! Basically outsourcing/open sourcing my research. And then, of course, this treasure chest of ideas would be woven into the interview, when appropriate -- with credit.
This is a way I can see podcasters like myself morphing into bloggers, and interacting better with the web community. Ideally I'd be able to get a conversation going on the topic both before and after the interview is completed. I'll keep plugging away at this -- but I welcome any input/critique on how to make podcasts like mine more blog-friendly. Also, it perhaps doesn't help that the subject matter of ThoughtCast is somewhat 'old school' or perhaps the word is old-fashioned -- interviews with academics and intellectuals, for heaven's sake. But this is what makes me happy. I'll find out in due course if it makes others happy too.
I'll attempt to address this at space4commerce.blogspot.com - but since I may not get around to blogging about how I blog and my email is open.
I blog with panache, baby. I blog in slacks and shirt, I blog in jeans and boots, I blog in my pajamas. Well, I don't actually have honest-to-God pajamas but I blog in my sweats and t-shirt.
I don't blog while dead drunk or otherwise out of my head. I do blog while imbibing the occasional beer or glass of wine. I do blog 'tired' and 'exhausted' and I probably should not but (as we used to say in my long ago studly Marine Corps youth) there it is.
I blog at work (all three of them) I blog at home I even (I blush to admit this but I'm on a roll and damned if I'll stop now) I blog in the john.
My name is Brian. I am a blogger.
My friend Jim Roberts, author of Duly Noded, a photographer, and another midwestern blogger, says,
I blog constantly, in my head that is, I'm always putting together posts that never see the light of day, some of these die because we seem to have a very short attention span. Linking to a week old post labels you as someone not quite with it. Like "come on that is so old news." If I can't get to it right a way it loses potency.
I do most of my writing on Snidely the Powerbook. I like the keyboard and I'm less encumbered by bells and whistles with Snidely. One of my only requirements is to write in an environment with a spell checker, not that I'm a bad speller, I find it very distracting when I am worrying about the spelling of a word - It distracts my chain of thought. I am more than willing to skip the word and come back to it later if I have software that will mark it as misspelled. While I could use Word on a PC all the formating tools and other wild and wonderful stuff it doesn't help keep my mind on what I want to do. Plus Word has a tendency to hammer hand crafted html when copied and pasted into a browser.
I've used Movable Type at http://www.noded.com/noded almost from the beginning (2 months on blogger was enough). I type right into the MT's web browser no frills text box. For the most part I use Safari which is interesting as it is the one browser that does not show the short cut buttons for making links etc. What is does do is spell check right then and there. I find that it's ability to check my spelling outweighs any need to automatically wrap text in html codes. So I hand code all my html stuff. I do have some CSS that frames my pictures that I used constantly.
I usually start with a very small idea of what the post will be, I'm not one to have everything I want to say planned out ahead of time. I will have a germ of an idea about what I want to say but I let my research lead me to the ending that may or may not be anything near what I started out to say. I need to be able to pop up a browser and research a thought, Idea, or person as I am creating the post so I only create posts when I have access to the internet. I find that online research directs me to the post I want to make. Writing to me, especially blog writing, is best when you are just riffing on what is going on in your head tempered by the facts as you find them when you go looking for them.
I also edit ferociously. I let the words come out any way that they will just to get them on the screen. Then I go back and edit, edit, and edit some more. I move sentences around, eliminate a whole bunch of useless words and try to make my writing sharp and to the point. Please note, I have no knowledge of proper punctuation so you may find many more commas in my posts than are necessary. When I think everything is set I post. Then I go to the page and read it as a finished item. I usually end up doing more editing after it's posted. I miss a lot of mistakes that I don't see until all of the html framework is removed. I take another pass at sharpening the sentences. There has been some posts where the post you find after an hour doesn't look anything like the post when it was first published. The posts I feel the best about are the ones where I am trying to convey things I feel passionate about.
Enoch Choi, of medmusings, whom I had the good fortune to meet at the first BloggerCon shares the following:
How i blog in terms of hardware is hosting my own server at home with a Cobalt Cube and dynamic DNS.
How i post is via movable type's web interface, but how i get there differs in each location:
- mobile option 1: OQO 01+ with bluetooth to treo 650 verizon NationalAccess cellular modem
- mobile option 2: wifi where i can get it
- mobile option 3: treo browser (painful)
- mobile option 4: net cafe (e.g. posts from bali/phuket/bintan/cruises)
- home: G5, wifi to cable modem
- work: Wyse dumb terminals to windows network via citrix
Sascha Meinrath, a community wireless expert and PhD student at the University of Illinois addressed wireless networking needs in New Orleans following the Hurricane. Asked how he blogs, he replied,
Often I draw inspiration from the e-mails, discussions, news articles, and off-the-record comments I gather over the course of my work. As a nexus for a variety of information, I blog by synthesizing many of the unconnected points -- weaving a tapestry that's often of interest to a diverse constituency. The "how of blogging" is often complicated by constraints placed about confidential information (which need remain non-public) and the wealth of unverifiable and/or third-hand information. I try to blog based upon primary sourcing, first-hand accounts, and a strong desire to "do no harm" through my reporting.
Martin Geddes, quiet genius author of Telepocalypse says,
The chaos of my blogging methodology reflects the disorder of my mind! I frequently create draft posts with ideas for an article. Many get abandoned -- maybe 1/5 of them, many of which are quite long but I felt didn't make the cut.
There's no focus or agenda generally to my blogging, but I reject everything that's outside the scope of my blog's subject. If I want to write about politics or trivia, I'll do it elsewhere.
Because my blog makes me no money directly, and I've two small kids, posts typically get fitted in to odd moments and hours. Rather too many blog posts are timestamped in the early hours of the morning.
Some blog posts I'll brew over long periods. I've got one or two where I've been gathering links for almost 2 years!
I happen to use Movable Type in its native mode, but the tool makes virtually no difference to me. As long as it doesn't get in the way of what I have to say, I don't care for anything too fancy.
Unless you've got a passion for what you write about, you'll never keep it up. The blog posts tend to get written when the passion level exceeds the laziness threshold (quite high in my case). There's also a "blog anxiety" where if I don't post for 5 days or a week I get twitchy. But I never lack for things to write about.
When I'm in the zone, on my game, how do I blog? With a vengeance. I'm not always in that zone. It's frustrating to know the zone is there. The topics that fuel the fire are there. To lack the time to do them justice can be a source of frustration. In my case, I find that if I don't feel I have the time, I will avoid the meatier topics that I cannot begin to treat as they deserve. And shame on me for that. Both for not having the time and for not making that effort.
I use a variety of tools My personal blog runs on Wordpress. A new community site I help lead runs on DotNetNuke ( far more than just a blog). Both have web interfaces, and I actually use the web interface quite a bit, but I use other tools as well. That interface is probably my primary interface for day-to-day blogging. I use it for the chatty things, take advantage of the trackback capabilities and such that are convenient there.
For the longer thoughtful articles, which have become so very rare for me, and the ones that are just offline ramblings for later posting, I have a much different approach using an editor in some form. I use Notepad, Outlook Notes. Sometimes my editor is email and portions of things written, collected and then sent to myself for processing. I use wBloggar some for posting because I like the way it lets me operate. I sometimes use HTML-Kit for editing at the end when I'm getting ready to post. Mostly I do the writing in text format and then apply any cosmetic changes in the web interface for the appropriate blog. Cut, paste, finalize really.
Mobility is a big deal to me. I often write for the blog when I'm away from my own computer, saving for posting later. Mostly saving locally, not as an online draft, but as text to be pasted when I can. My hardware tools blur together. I use multiple Dell laptops and a Palm LifeDrive. They blur together. Tools to get the job done really. Most often a Windows laptop or Palm. I also do a fair bit of writing that gets either synched from laptop to Palm to some other laptop, or gets saved to USB drive for moving from system to system before it sees the light of day.
On my Palm, I use the Outlook Notes feature of Key Suite extensively, but I also use mo:Blog. It's a really handy blogging editor with support for html tags and such. I use a wireless keyboard, so this is my took for writing blog entries when I'm away - on a plane, in a conference, in a meeting waiting for something to happen. It's my primary remote blogging mechanism if I'm not in a conference or seminar where I've taken my laptop. I try not to take my laptop to those things all the time. When I post directly from my Palm, there's a default tagline to note that, but I've found I write a lot on my Plam and then finalize the post from PC, so the tagline doesn't kick in.
I set my blog up so I can use an email interface to send pics from my cell phone. I think I've sent two. Maybe three. I don't do that a lot. Mostly because lately I've been tied to routine places a lot. I've only email posted once or twice I think. It works, but just doesn't seem to suit my needs. It didn't feel comfortable, although I barely checked it out. Odd since I do like the convenience of an XMLPRC approach even when it means I have to fight around security problems.
What I find interesting about my own "how" is the "where" portion. I write posts at home, my office, conference rooms, meetings, training classes, the airport, restaurants, airplanes, hotel rooms. Often while I'm watching TV with my laptop in my lap. A couple times in a car while someone else was driving. Please note that I do not now, nor have I ever posted from the bathroom. That room is reserved for reading, not writing.
Steve Himmer, a novelist whose onepotmeal has long been a staple on my menu shares the following,
Most of the time, my posts are the result of some other activity I've just completed -- taking a walk, watching the bird feeder, reading, making coffee in the morning, etc. Some phrase or image will lodge itself in my head, and I'll sit down (usually at the desk in my office) and work with that snippet until it says what I think I want it to. Then I post it, and immediately after doing so realize that the words are all wrong, so I revise and repost. Often, I'll look at it again a few minutes later and tweak a bit more. So I guess I blog as if I'm looking at clouds -- something drifts by, and I try to guess what it looks like.
Another professional writer, Sheila Lennon blogging at Subterranean Homepage News says,
In the newsroom, I blog when I've finished writing headlines, proposals, captions, briefs, survey questions, emails and code. It's a frequency shift.
At home, blogging is a demented online game, a battle of wits with a monster: My desktop went dark last month after a few weeks of screen dementia, and even the big button wouldn't turn it off.
Now I use the laptop, but there's somebody on the other side of that screen too. For a few hours one night he only permitted me capital letters, even though I'd reprogrammed Caps Lock to a more useful left Enter key.
Sometimes he's scrolling madly through mail and tabs, or insisting we race to the top of the page when I want to scroll down. He's taken over the laptop's keyboard, and only the far-left key on each row works. The arrows and backspace are in play, but I can usually seize them back.
I bought a cheap USB keyboard and use it on top of "his," but I'm in the habit of mousing on the fringe of the keys, so I toss aside the new keyboard, use the mouse, then type from habit on the now-dead keys, toss aside the mouse, retype on the new keyboard, repeat.
How do I blog while battling the monster? Tersely, sometimes only a sentence pointing to someone else's good work.
I plan to get the desktop fixed, but I must place my Christmas orders in time to get them shipped, before he gets stronger...
As you can see, Sheila's contribution may better have been grouped with yesterday's post on "the terse and the teleonomic," but what can I say? In this case your humble editor nodded off. I have one more post planned for the series (and I suspect there will be a recap next week, perhaps referencing a few latecomers to the conversation). But for Friday, I'm excited! I'm serving up a little audio hors d'oeuvre that Leslie Winer sent, followed by an amuse bouche by Kombinat! after which - the entree - a sixteen ounce serving of Chris Locke. Rare.