On retiring

It was interesting to note Dave Winer’s post about his impending retirement from the blogosphere. When I started blogging I was reading him every day, I gradually drifted away, probably because I became a bit less of a techie. I also used Radio Userland for a while, but it was crappy so I moved to MT and then on to WP.

Dave’s main reason seems to be privacy:

I want some privacy, I want to matter less, so I can retool, and matter more, in different ways. What those ways are, however, are things I won’t be talking about here. That’s the point. That’s the big reason why.

Whatever his reasons, it made me think, and take stock.

2,620 posts (not all mine), 12,828 comments, in 40 categories. Probably upwards of 150,000 blocked or deleted spam comments. 1,337 days since I started this little corner of the net. Somehow ranked 10,807th out of 31 million blogs (474 links from 141 sites) Moved hosts 4 times. 3 types of blog software. 1,337 days of almost continuous online presence. Spikes in traffic, falls in traffic. Instalanched. Winered. Monthly’d. Boing’d. Slashdotted. Spawned offspring, some of whom I think still blog. Met bloggers, London, Toronto, Washington, Boston, Dublin. 1.36 million page views, 925,000 unique visits. The Irish blogosphere going from the 15 or 20 when I started to the enormous number now. Changes in look and feel. Bandwidth stealing. SQL. WordPress. Movable Type. Daypop. Popdex. Technorati. Google buys Pyra. Featured on various radio shows to talk about blogging and e-voting, that TV thing to talk about blogging. Explained to god knows how many people what a ‘blog’ is. Used various definitions. Converted some to the ways of the blog, others were having none of it. Hope to see aggregators for Irish blogs, wishes came true.

The question is, in what direction do you take a blog. After this length of time I wonder if I have lost perspective. I get blog-guilt when I don’t post daily. ‘I really should post’ I tell myself. But then leave it ’till tomorrow. I bookmark stuff I need to post, but they soon become stale. Sometimes there are simply too many interesting things to link to. I often think of myself, insofar as my readers are concerned, as a filter. I ask myself what sort of blog would I like to read everyday, and then I try to write that blog, for people who have similar interests to me. Spot of science. Hint of tech. Something funny. Serious political stuff. Odd bit of gossip. And it worked, but I wonder now if it still does.

The main reason is that so many are the blogs now, all of those little subject matters I would dabble in are so well covered by dedicated blogs in specific subject areas. And RSS make it easy for people to drop in and out of the latest and best sites. I guess the question is, what is different about subscribing to El Reg + digg + Twenty + TCAL + WN + THP and reading me? All of those sites cover all the issues…and a simple subscription gets you all the latest feeds. I spend alot of my time reading them, and picking the best bits.

What is it about a blog that makes people stay? Why would people prefer reading me, as filter, and a set of feeds? How much does the personality of the blogger impact on who reads them? And do the readers even matter? Some people say about blogging that ‘it’s not about readers’, it’s about conversation and dialogue, it’s about getting your thoughts down, and if people come and read, then great. But I started blogging with the intention of serving readers, of being the filter for stuff I find interesting, so readers matter to me. Not numbers necessarily, but people who like what they see and stick around. I think blogging has definately changed in the last few years, neither for better or worse, but the dynamics have certainly. I even notice myself that I profess opinions about subjects far less than I used to, perhaps my skin is not yet thick enough for comment criticism, even after all this time.

Blogs are funny because you can browse your archives and see productive times, trends in posting, trends in subject matter, changes in blogrolls that reflect changing reading patterns. I was 21 when I started gavinsblog.com, and will be 25 soon. Blogging has benefited me in so many ways – yes like all bloggers I do get carried away sometimes with the medium – but by far the most valuable thing I have taken from writing stuff down every day, are the people I have met, be it in person or online, through shared interests and a shared sense of community. I met some of the nicest people through blogging, most recently at the blog awards. People who express themselves through writing and photography – was it just me or was the room full of the most approachable and talkative people you could meet – and all from a variety of professions and backgrounds.

If anything keeps me online it is that.

3 Responses to “On retiring”

  1. that girl says:

    Oh this is so interesting Gavin, and it’s great to see you posting something that’s reflectige and, dare I say it “personal”. I’ve thought a lot about this too and the reason I come back to you and indeed to others is because of the “voice”. It’s the same reason I read the Guardian and not the Financial Times – the voice, the interpretation and the way a blogger tells a story is what keeps people coming back. So even if you were to change the content of this blog I think people would still want to hear your take…

    And yes, the bloggers I have met in real life (including your good self several times) are a great bunch of people. The spirit of community building that’s happening right now is fascinating and I think you can take some credit for that too – if I remember, you organised the first social gathering of bloggers in Dublin….so thanks!

  2. it’s personal – it’s always personal…

    Gavin has a lovely thoughtful piece today on “why blog?” or in his case, “why continue to blog?” He says “by far the most valuable thing I have taken from writing stuff down every day, are the people I have……

  3. Liv says:

    Couldn’t be more right.
    I hope that I’ll get to be part of the community too someday.. and that my blog will last this time!