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How Do I Blog? Let me count the ways . . . | blog.deanland.com

How Do I Blog? Let me count the ways . . .

How Do I Blog?  Let me count the ways  . . .

We hear again from our friend the prodigious blogger Frank Paynter.  As a follow up to last year's "Why Do You Blog,"query, Frank (the one-time interviewer of many bloggers, have you been Paynted?) is apparently turning this into a series; this year the question being How.

Perhaps next year Frank will pose the open question to the blogosphere, When do they blog, or Where?

Being as A) I count Frank among my friends and when a friend asks a question I like to provide an answer, and B) Frank got great response to last year's Why question, and C)
just as I was beginning to gather my thoughts on how to reply to this, what arrives in
my e-mail inbox but a nicely nudging reminder note from Frank asking
if, er, ahem, I am going to respond or not --- it would seem that there
would be no better time than right now to answer.

"HOW" Means What, Exactly?

Does "How Do You Blog" mean "what software do you use to blog?"  Hereabouts in DeanLand I use Manila, from Userland.  Over in the Fauxblog
(the one my son and a friend of his threw together a year and a half
ago when the weblogs.com site went kaput) I used a variety of open
source and other such tools, including CuteNews,
and that works just fine.  That quickly thrown together site,
which closely duplicated the look of my original layout, served me well
with a minimum of features and bells & whistles, but did the job
just fine. 

I have a Blogger site or two -- very bare bones, no design hacks or
adornments.  I'm a writer not a designer, and I found the Blogger
interface and general program rather limiting and dispriting. 
Clearly there are those who can hack and modify and make it look very
pretty.  There are also Blogger sites where the content is king
and the basic layout serves the writer very well.  Here's a good example of that
As for me, I didn't feel comfy-wumfy with Blogger. 

That's what
makes horse races, right?  To each his own ----- oops, oh, how sexist of
me, I mean to each, their
own.  Here in the Blogiverse one must be mindful of pronouns and
other such language, so as not to invite a flame war over sexism or
other perceived slurs.

I've guest blogged on a few TypePad blogs, and have used Radio (that
old Radio blog of mine is pure ether now, not even available on the
Wayback Machine!), and
have dabbled with  pMachine, Bubbler, LiveJournal, and even once
with a Xanga blog.  I am extremely comfortable with Manila, and
also use WordPress for some other blogging.  A colleague jokingly
asked me if my goal was to have a DeanLand variation using every
possible available blogging tool.

You know, there may just be some merit in that idea.

"HOW" as in a very practical question?

No, not in my pajamas,  You see, I don't wear pajamas.  But I
do often blog in late night hours.  And I have about 15 unfinished
blog posts in various states of edit and composition.  Sometimes
the subject gets stale, or life gets in the way and I don't have the
time (you might sometimes substitute the word inclination there) to
finish them.  Or I am just not motivated to blog.

"How?" could be also be truthfully answered by replying, "using an advanced hunt'n'peck" method.

Piecemeal would also be a
truthful answer.  Often it takes a good few rewrites before a blog
post is entered up onto the page.  The wittier ones are usually
one take or maybe one take with a few edits, spelling corrections, or
some reshaping of the content to give it a bit more readability,
considering flow and word use, build of exposition.  The serious
ones often take a long time.  I wrote one piece that took over a
month to get right.  And to this day I still feel compelled to
edit it.  Of course, there's nothing I've ever written that I
haven't felt could have used a little more editing, after the fact.

"HOW" as in how one approaches the practice of blogging.

And now to the real answer to Frank's question.  When Frank and I
first met it was right about the time when he'd commented on his blog
about being glad to meet me, and to associate a face with my e-mail
list "voice."  I was glad to meet Frank for the very same reasons.

That was a voice mostly of humor; we were both on a RageBoy
list and I think one or two others.  For me the e-mail lists
served as more of a diversion, a place to be pithy, witty, irreverent .
. . than does this blog.  And for the purposes of responding to
Frank's question, we are talking about how this writer approaches the
practice of blogging this very blog.

How do I blog?
  With great care, concern, and intensity.  And
also with certain very serious considerations and much
trepidation.  The blog serves as my soapbox, the equivalent of
having a column.  DeanLand has my own byline and copyright; I am responsible for
the content.

Sure, often I write pieces of intended levity.  But I've also used
this space to further thoughts and ideas and to communicate ideas and
issues that might otherwise have been difficult in any other
forum.  This being blogging, blogging offering comments, it
becomes a discussion.  Or, to be more Cluetrainical, a conversation.

There are repercussions from what is posted.  The longer I do this
the more aware of this I am.  People to whom I am close have made
requests regarding certain areas of content, and those requests have
been honored.  There is a certain responsibility in being so
public with one's words, ideas, statements, links, visual
content.  The blogger is also the editor, shouldering all of the
weight and any effects associated with those words, graphics, links, et

Quite some time ago another blogger posed an interesting question,
concerning how bloggers dealt with just who read their blogs.  Who
is the audience, the readership?  This is a matter that has always
been top of mind as I compose and then post entries.

Not quite a year ago Julie Leung (psst: you should read her blog) posted about this in her blog, and as I recall, it inspired a good many responses throughout the blogosphere. Lisa Williams (psst: you should read her blog, too) also wrote about this, and linked to her own set of blogging principles.

A blogger acts as their own censor, their own copy and content editor,
their own producer or  assignment editor.  For the first few
years of DeanLand I never wrote about work, work-related matters, or
people I encountered in the workplace.  It seemed somehow
inappropriate to write about my  work.  Self-employed for
most of my working life, and doing consulting, writing in so public a
forum about work-related issues seemed as though a violation of
confidentiality, as well as a basic Thing-One-Just-Doesn't-Do.

This is a "how" issue: one blogs with a great sense of circumspection.

DeanLand was (and, I guess, still is) the equivalent of my column, and it also originally served as a personal blog.  When I wrote in early 2001 about family estrangements
it brought about a great deal of trackback, comments (mostly by e-mail;
back then posted blog comments were less prevalent), and a link from Doc Searls which no doubt brought about a slew of readers. 

I wrote that piece with great care, being sure to protect all the
people involved, maintaining dignity, distance, respect, and yet
putting my emotions out there for all to see.

A year or so later I wrote an entry, In Defense Of Advertising,
which was a response to some blog posts I'd read elsewhere, the gist of
those was to blast advertising as  the root of evil, or at least
a cause of much of it.  My media background and interactions with
the ad world (and in it, in some ways, too) prompted me to write and
post that entry.  That, too was written with great care, but also
out of concern, and in response to posts I'd read on sites and blogs.

I've written about politics and Pop Culture.  These are all
written from my point of view, with a sense of who the writing is
intended for, and an innate sort of sense of who might be reading these

Then comes trepidation.  There are topics, comments,
observations, opinions that won't  appear in this space.  Either
they are of too private or personal a nature, or they might cause pain,
discomfort or harm to readers or other people.  This is not a
place or forum for public displays of private matters, or for attempts
at sniping or to cast aspersions.  There are times when my sense
of humor has offended some readers, and early on in the life of this
blog some family members asked me to tone down a certain graphic
gimmick I used to express feelings about one person in

I appreciated their comments, took their concerns to heart, and have
nearly ceased all such activity.  I will admit that there have
been moments when I was moved by a sinister sense of humor (and a more certain sense of the moment, more to the point) to use an illustration in this manner.  But for the most part I honor the request.

"HOW" as it relates to WHO

How I blog has a lot to do with who might be reading DeanLand.  As in you,
the reader, the person who clicked on this link -- and actually made it
all the way to this point in such a very long entry!   Of course I
know who a good portion of the readers are -- they send me e-mail, they
may comment here from time to time, some call me to discuss the content

Additionally, I know of some occasional or happenstance readers (perhaps that means you),
those who click over to DeanLand now then and again, but not on a
regular basis.  From the referrer logs it is clear that some
readers learn of new posts from their aggregators. 

One friend of mine commented that he would go months without reading
DeanLand, and then spend some time catching up on a bunch of old posts,
maybe do so over a few days.  Another buddy called and spoke of
similar reading habits, and said this was why he rarely posted
comments.  He felt they would be too out of date.

Often when speaking on panels or at meetings I am stunned to learn that
people have been reading DeanLand for years (even with my extremely
irregular, sporadic posting schedule), and can cite old posts that made
an impression on them. When the weblogs.com vanishing site incident
occured I received e-mails from all over, and was mentioned in many
blogs stating they missed reading DeanLand. 

These are the reasons I've come to take this blogging pastime much more seriously.

When weblogs.com was down it was Frank Paynter (the very person who
instigated this very long post) who commented to me that DeanLand was,
in fact, my brand, more than
just a web presence, but in fact a positioning and public
representation of who and what I am.  That, actually, got me to
thinking about using DeanLand, or variations/extensions on the theme,
as a business tool.  I began to consider abandoning the very thin
and temporary site in my company name and using DeanLand as a total
marketing and web presence tool.

So when I compose posts, in my head there exists an imaginary readers
panel.  I imagine how certain readers might react or perceive what
gets written and posted on the blog.  There's a relative or two, a
bunch of friends, as well as professional acquaintances who comprise
the panel.  For much of my life I progammed and marketed radio
stations to a "listening public," also known as the target audience
I ran a consulting firm and research company, deriving information and
analysis of listener needs, perceptions, desires, and response to
program elements.  We researched and developed similar panels and
sometimes wrote up descriptions of the target audience to help the
staff better perceive the goal audience segment.

The blog is different.  It is more personal, and my livelihood is
not dependent upon it.

Further, there's no hard and fast set of
competitive metrics by which to measure effectiveness. I don't run ads
on DeanLand, so there's no advertiser revenue or buyer's perception(s)
to consider when creating blog postings or other screen elements.

DeanLand being my brand, my personal outpost on the net, and my very
personal product which goes into this open space . . . .is thus
composed with a sense of who reads it (you!), who writes it (yeah, you may groan if you like),
and and the fact that these posts linger on.  They are here at
this URL, and some posts remain available at Buzzword, at the FauxBlog,
and if Verisign should choose to put redirects on the old weblogs.com
content, then over there, perhaps someday, too.  Much of it sits
on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.  

The blog remains and maintains; it is my doing, my responsibility, my product, my work, my effort, my words.

The blog is all these things to me, and I love that friends old and
new, clients, people from various times from my life, my family, as
well as visitors from unknown referrals and links find themselves over

The bottom line, though, the two words that sum up the response to Frank's "how do you blog" question is simple.  Given the readers and the effort that goes into it, I can sum up how this way:  With Passion.  That's how.