Ten years of wordbit

Thu Feb 16, 2017

Ten years ago today, wordbit joined the blogosphere. A few years after that, the term blogosphere joined other buzzwords such as web 2.0 in the internet fad graveyard. I’m hoping social media will be joining them at some point.

But ten years ago, social media was still fun and innocent. Heck - ten years ago, there were no smartphones. The iPhone was to debut about four months later in a defining moment that changed the trajectory of the internet forever. Three years later, in 2010, Wired Magazine declared that “the Web is dead”. The Web, in case you didn’t know, meaning the World Wide Web (WWW) - a collection of html pages served up in desktop browsers. The Web’s death was greatly exaggerated of course - you can thank responsive web design for that.

Then again, there are millions of people who use Facebook but have no idea that Facebook exists on the Internet. Zuckerberg hooked even the most technophobic on the Internet without them even knowing it.

Yes, the world is a different place - but where does that leave the humble blog?

There is no easy answer to that question. In fact, I would argue that the question does not matter.

You’ve probably heard some rendition of “the blog is dead” for many years now. Perhaps that is concerning for those with money at stake. When blogs started generating traffic, along came metrics, advertising, blog rolls, comments, SEO, google analytics, and so on. Without these trappings, you could argue that a blog is nothing but a pulpit in the wilderness. But that is exactly what blogs started out as. That is what a blog really is, in its purest essence.

Here is the world’s first web page. It is nothing more than some text and links - the ultimate content delivery medium (second only to the paper page of a book, a content delivery platform honed over hundreds of years).

Why is it that writers crave a content authoring GUI on the back-end that is clean, simple, and clutter-free? It is ostensibly so that they can focus on their writing without distraction. How hypocritical then, that we save the clutter for the front-end - for the user. Who is the user? It is blindingly simple. When it comes to blogs, the user is only one thing - the user is a reader.

Always respect the reader.

If you’re writing on the web to make a living, then you have my sympathies. In all likelihood, you have moved on to serving bite-sized content for social media junkies to snack on. But for writers who just want to write, there is simply no better medium than the blog - preferably a good old html page served up in under one second.

In under one second you say? Seems like a good time to list the tools I use to accomplish this. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve moved on to a static site generator, Hugo, instead of wasting precious seconds with a database call, as you would with Wordpress. The site is hosted on Github, a tool which software developers use as a code respository with version control. I author in Markdown. I use StackEdit as an online markdown editor, mostly because it syncs so nicely with files in Google Drive. I should mention that this authoring setup is gaining favour in the technical writing world as well. In progressive circles at least.

So, wordbit’s design has evolved to meet my ideal of ultimate reader friendliness, and I’m proud of that. But coming up with content is as challenging as its always been. No writer should assume that people have nothing better to do than read their writing, because these days people have plenty to occupy their time. The toughest part for any writer is coming up with a big idea, then staying on point and writing a focused piece of work that doesn’t ramble and stray from the topic. Blogs are a fickle beast because they started as online diaries and have evolved into many things, including legitimate journalism. At best, a blog post is simply an editorial that is interesting to read. If you keep coming back then it is the voice of the writer that appeals to you.

Anyway, I’ve long since given up on pandering to anyone, and mostly just write for my own benefit. But writing in a public medium is always a struggle between maintaining a degree of privacy, being honest, and staying relevant. After all, ten years ago I was at a different stage of life. My priorities have changed, the topics I’m comfortable writing about have changed, and the goals for my blog has changed.

What hasn’t changed is that I still have that compulsion to write that plagues writers everywhere, and that’s not going to end while I’m still breathing. So, here’s to another decade of wordbit. I’ve made it this far - why stop now?

  « Previous: Next: »