Posts tagged with "interesting sites"

Missing The Old

I’ve been reading Andrea’s blog lately. Normally, I don’t read blogs of people I’ve never met1, and even though I’ve met Andrea, I’ve never had a penetrating conversation with her, let alone gotten to know her. Andrea’s blog is a little different though. To the uninitiated, it’s a regular journal, but there are bits of insight and emotion scattered throughout that leave you feeling like you’re looking at someone stoned, naked, and through their kitchen window. The ordinary mixed with a dash of extraordinary is what truly gives one a sense of empathy, and it was this that drew me in.

It’s been making me feel so fucking nostalgic.

I remember being in that stage of life. Back in school. Getting drunk. Chasing girls. Unsure of anything but the way I was feeling in that exact moment.

It’s made me realize that I don’t write like I used to. My entries used to be so experimental. Aside from a single sentence as a last, concluding line2, and a penchant for being a little too personal, I hadn’t developed a particular writing style. Back when I posted something almost three times a day because I had to. When my posts had no titles (the same way Andrea has nothing but an incrementing number and location stamp) because they were about everything and nothing in particular.

Now, there’s too much purpose to my writing. Carefully planned out posts, trying to express something specific, without the stream-of-consciousness I used to enjoy. Lost is the old whimsical nature, the ordinary mixed with the extraordinary. I never used to care whether something was significant enough to post, and would just write it and hit that publish button.

I miss it.

But I can’t tell if it’s the way I used to write, or my life back then, that I miss.

  1. Blogs rarely interest me when I don’t have a bit of personal insight from a first meeting. []
  2. Almost every single pots in this blog ends this way. []

A Blogger Passes On

Many years ago, I received an e-mail from a reader named Winston Rand, looking for some blogging advice:

Jeff,

I have been to your equivocality site numerous times over the last couple of months and always come away impressed. Having visited many other “blogs” – God how I’ve come to hate that term – I keep coming back to yours as my gold standard. Been thinking of starting my own, even have 2 domain names paid for, but being an engineer and an IT pro, I’m too hesitant to start until most of the answers are quite clear. That is a strength as well as a failing…

In my quest, I’ve looked at many different blogging tools, hosting sites, etc., and am still not sure which route to take. My temptation is to say to hell with all of them and just post my stuff using static html pages (Dreamweaver) since I’m not really interested in feedback or comments that much. But I do like the ability to easily integrate calendar, archives, and other features that most of the blog packages seem to include by default. And who knows, one of these days I may care what other people think of my work.

Among the popular packages, I’ve got it narrowed down to WordPress, Moveable Type, and SquareSpace, but I’m wide open to suggestions and recommendations.

Could you share your thoughts on what you use and recommend? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Keep up your excellent work! I look forward to seeing more of it.

I steered Winston towards WordPress, and soon after, he started his own blog at nobodyasked.com. Over time, he developed a significant readership, as he would write quite lucidly about politics, humour, and the occassional geek talk.

Although our blogs covered different things in a different style (Winston called it “[spinning] in a slightly offset parallel universe” when describing my blog in his one-year anniversary post), we would check up on each other now and then.

During one of my last visits, I found out that Winston has died after a 38-hour illness and 3 surgeries. While I never really knew him in person, I still feel like someone close is gone.

And I wish I could explain why.

9rules

I generally don’t like blog networks. Too often they’re superficial, cheaply constructed communities used by the creators to give themselves a sense of belonging and purpose in the blogosphere. Some of the most prominent examples of this are on Livejournal, where anyone will create a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-proclaimed “hot mom”, or even happen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one community that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blogging. Several prolific sites I frequent, such as graphicPush, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle feature a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this little universal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the network called 9rules.

9rules logo

I discovered that they’re the only community with a philosophy and quality with which I agreed. As on their website, “9rules is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and to help readers find great blogs on their favorite subjects. It’s difficult to find sites worth returning to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the independent web all under one roof.”

Their philosophy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must constantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.

Although I can say that I agree and follow every single one of them, number eight particularly resonated with me. It’s one of my reasons for living, and partially why I started blogging in the first place.

For once, I felt compelled to join a community.

Becoming a member, however, isn’t a simple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour window for people to submit their blogs. 9rules doesn’t have a specific criteria for what to accept. Sites are judged on consistency and quality of material, as well the passion for the subjects being blogged.

The community leaders go through every site together, often several times, before deciding whether to let someone join. They also maintain an exclusivity clause; members aren’t allowed to be part of any other community. There was even a purge once, to clean the network of any sites whose quality had dropped.

In the past, the acceptance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being submitted. At the end of this round, the number of accepted members stands at a tentative 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.

Thanks, And No Thanks

I’ve officially switched from Movable Type to WordPress, the latter of which I’ve decided is a far superior platform. This involved manually copying content from the old database, including every entry, comment, timestamp, and ip address logged. Even though it took me nearly a month, I was able to go through my old entries and make the thumbnails, links, quotes, and formatting consistent.

Thanks to the experiences of every day life, for the people I hate, the people I love, the ones I respect, and the ones who inspire me to do more. It’s these that make sure I never run out of things to say.

Thanks to Trolley, who reminds me with his comments that I always have at least one reader.

Thanks to Aaron and Pat, for showing me that they care when they tell me that they keep up-to-date with my life through this.

Thanks to Bronwen, with whom I’m the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Thanks to Number18, for giving me hope with her daily life, and her über cool input jacks.

Thanks to Tina and Aurora, for their enigmatic entries that inspire me to write better.

Thanks to Winston and Barb, for letting me know that I, in turn, could inspire someone to start writing for themselves.

Thanks to Sikander for being the guy who shares music with me, even though we’ve never met in real life.

Thanks to Sophia, for introducing me to music like CocoRosie, and quoting my own old archived entries back to me.

Thanks to Dru, a design artist I’ve admired for years, for unofficially stealing from me, an unspoken compliment I hold dear to my heart.

No thanks to the stalkers, who say they’ll never visit, yet continue to read on a daily basis. The ones who hide behind services like Anonymouse, naively believing that all their http requests are masked. The self proclaimed hypocrites, who have the FUCKING AUDACITY to tell me about the vices of blogging, yet blog themselves. The exact reason why I never answer my phone anymore.

No thanks to the sequacious commentors who say stuff but don’t say anything, or those who comment for the sake of personal advertisement.

No thanks to the hotlinkers, who continue to steal my images, and in turn, my bandwidth and money.

When I was converting my database and going through the old entries, I could recall each and every emotion that drove them. My writing has become less rambling, less depressing, less cryptic since I started back in 2002. As time goes on and the entries become more recent, there seems to be a subtle, burgeoning hope, a reflection of the experiences I’ve gone through and a changing worldview.

And from the beginning of this blog to the entries I write now, the most important thing is that I always have more people to thank.