Christian Ross

Overcoming the block

I’ve been struggling with this whole communication device (my blog) for a while and I wasn’t exactly sure why. Thanks to a text-to-audio-to-video-to-audio chat from @foundationsix this afternoon, I think I’ve narrowed it down.

I’ve been populating this .net with content since 2006. While three years isn’t that long relatively speaking, in terms of blogging I would estimate it falls in the top percentage of longevity of personal blogging. Most weblogs get started and published for only short amounts of time, those that produce content on a consistent basis more than a few months are becoming rare.

For the last six months or so, I’ve had trouble defining what this is all for. I had no original intentions when I started collecting my thoughts online, it was probably an experiment that had a 50/50 chance of ever making it two months. (Note: Though she doesn’t write often enough, she is still inspiring and I did help her to get a real domain:

Some time in the last 6 months I did a redesign. It was an experimentation and as of today, I’m pretty sure it failed. Most designers dislike their stuff just a few days after it hits the shelf but this is a little more than that. Right away there were things that bugged me about the look I decided upon for the current version. I originally wanted a wider content area but by framing it, I made it harder to get things to look the way I wanted when I published them. Videos and images were the worst. I drew the original frames up at 600px but somewhere in transition from slicing to programming I ended up with an area that looked best when objects were exactly 597px wide. That, my friend, is a pain.

I also had visions of minimizing everything around the content itself – navigation, titles, sidebar – thinking that the content itself would stand out and be the ultimate focus. Don’t get me wrong, it should be, but I went about it the wrong way. In the process of building it up, I alienated anything older than the five most recent posts. Shame on me.

Other issues that spring to mind include the issues with difficulty subscribing to my blog and the inability to find related or content that I am proud of. Just to name a few.

With all of the flaws built in to this design, I think I ultimately tied my own hands. It may sound silly but I forced myself into this (these) boxes and ended up restricting my thoughts and ability to publish them. From there, I just forced it. I forced myself to produce and/or find content to supplement. I ended up turning this whole thing into what I could best describe today as a tumblog.

To explain, Tumblr is a hosted blogging platform built to eliminate almost any possible technical barriers into blogging. You can set up a blog in seconds, pick a template and get to blogging within 3 minutes. I know, I’ve set one up recently. Its ease of use and quality UI make it a popular and useful tool. But what I have seen it become more often than not for most people is the ability to rapidly reproduce (read: republish and/or plagiarize) content by other tumblr’s. In one click you can “reblog” any content across the tumblr platform to your own blog without having to really lift a finger.

Tumblr is great, for what it is. I am sad to say though that my attempts to just produce something, have left me producing something mediocre. What I have turned my personal soundboard into is just a tumblog. Publishing anything I found slightly amusing through my main feed became a habit. I became your email forward buddy. For all of this, I apologize.

With all of that out now, my hope is to go back to the drawing board to find a balance in both form and function. Good content is what I want this to be about. Right now there is some good content there, but it is hidden.

All of this said, I enjoy sharing the goodness of the Internet: stupid videos, funny websites, random quotes and hot topics of the day. My goal is to provide a way that I can still do that but not in a way that allows me to hide behind it all. I know of some who run separate blogs or tumblr accounts for things just like I’m mentioning but my hope is to tie it all in together in a one-stop shop. We’ll see.

It’s time for another experiment. Here’s to hoping I get a little better result.

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