The 50th Post: Observations on Blogging

According to Ecto, my favorite blogging application, this is my 50th post since starting this blog almost exactly two years ago. By the standards of popular blogs, that’s pretty pathetic, and barely counts as being a “blog” at all. By my own standards, set inside my head when I started this web site, it’s also pathetic. I assumed that I would post at the very least once a week, and probably more likely two or three times a week. I assumed that I would have about 100 posts a year.

I also figured that I would make a little extra money from advertising. In fact, I have made a total of zero dollars and zero cents. This is due to two factors: One, almost no one reads this blog – other than a few friends and family, I get only a few hundred hits every month. And two, I don’t really put any advertising on this site – the only ads are hidden ones, links within my various reviews. I signed up for the “Amazon Associates” program, and have been meticulous about linking every single mentioned product to a matching page on Amazon. I also download and link images for each previewed product. The total result from two years of doing this? 2 clicks and 0 purchases.

So, if I were to go by metrics alone, then this blog has been a miserable failure and I should give it up immediately: I don’t post very often, no one reads it and it costs me money. But of course I’m going to keep right on writing here, because this is not about either fame nor fortune. Instead, this is really about narcissism. I like doing this. I like writing here. I like reviewing things. I like seeing my words up there on the big screen. I even like updating my photo every six months or so.

I purchased the domain “jonathanhenderson.com” almost ten years ago now. I had originally wanted “jonhenderson.com“, but a musican by the same name already owned it. I also wanted “jonathanian.com”, as I had always wanted to have a website called “The Jonathanian” – like “The Bostonian” or “The Washingtonian”. However, it turns out there’s a musician whose name is actually “Jonathan Ian“, and he owns that site. Apparently a lot of musicians share my name. So, “jonathanhenderson.com” was what I ended up with.

For years, I just paid to renew the domain name and never did anything with it. I had vague ideas about starting up some sort of reviewing site, but never had the time or the inclination to really do anything about it. In January of 2000, I made a point to stop using “Jon” and always use “Jonathan” for all new contacts I made. Since I took a new job within weeks of that new year, it was easy to do. I had already been going by “Jonathan” at grad school for several years by then (too many “Johns” in the classrooms), and it seemed a natural thing to do. Now, eight years later, only my old friends from Los Angeles – and of course my partner Frank – still call me “Jon” anymore.

So, “jonathanhenderson.com” seemed more real to me as the years went on. In 2004, I finally leased server space with 1and1.com, and moved the domain there. Still, I didn’t do anything with it other than put a few family pictures up there. Early in 2005, I used the domain to host a mini-site about the construction of our swimming pool, including blueprints, photos, and a time-lapse video of the pool itself being built. As of this writing, that site still exists under the “PoolCam” heading in the upper right of this site.

And finally, in 2006, I decided to give blogging a try. My very first post was a short article about how to get MP3s onto the Motorola SLVR cell phone. I posted it as a reply on a few Motorola forums, and got a few responses.

About a month later, I bought a real copy of Movable Type 3.2, installed it on my LInux server, and set about making this site in more or less what it is today. I tried out some of the hosted services for one or two posts, and just didn’t like them. I’m too much of a technology control freak, I guess, to use a completely hosted service. I like to be able to get my hands dirty in HTML whenever I feel like it.

My goal with this site was to review every book I read, every movie I saw, and every TV show of note that I watched. In addition, I would chime in with political views and personal anecdotes when I felt like it. I figured I would write an “article” here every other day or so.

Now, to put this in perspective: I read, on average, two to three books a week. If the only thing I did was just review every book I read, that alone would be three posts a week. Obviously, I’ve never come even close to that. I also usually watch three or four movies a week – many that I’ve seen before, of course, but that wasn’t supposed to count for the purposes of this blog. So there’s another four posts. And then I watch three or four television shows regularly every week (more when American Idol is on the air three times a week, like it is now). Another three posts. Now we’re up to a grand total of 11 or 12 posts a week, and that doesn’t count any “thoughts” I might have. Let’s round it up to 15.

So, I would need to post 15 times a week to this blog (on average) if I were to keep up with my original goal. And let’s add one last note to this. A quick perusal of my blog, and anyone can clearly see that the vast majority of all my posts occur at around 1 or 2am in the morning. That, of course, is because I work full-time, and I write all of these entries late at night. To keep up to my hypothetical schedule, I’d need to stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, every day of the week.

Ain’t gonna happen.

Instead, I will continue to post here when I feel like it, about whatever I feel like. As time goes on and I get better at this, perhaps my output will increase. Or perhaps it won’t. But whichever way, I’ll have achieved the real goal of this blog: to enjoy myself and to hone my writing skills.

Over the past two years, there have been some posts that I’ve really liked, and a few that I don’t. The worst entry I’ve written yet has to be “Things I Don’t Understand About Getting Old“. Reading it now makes me cringe. I’m not sure what the hell I was trying for with that one; I think I was trying to write a “humor column”, but man did it not work. Honestly, it doesn’t even sound like me when I read it now.

My favorites have been the few personal anecdotes here and there. I very much liked my story about my failed night dive, “An Underwater Scare“. I got lots of comments when I got picked up on Andrew Sullivan’s site one day in regards to my ferrets, which led to “The Wacky Florida Ferret Freak“, another of my better efforts, I think.

And I’ve enjoyed the reviews. Those are why I started this blog in the first place, and what the majority of my posts are all about. Since I work in the technology field, I have an urge to write more gadget and tech reviews, but every time I start one, I seem to find a better one has already been written somewhere else. And there are lots of movie and TV reviews out there as well. So, I will try to concentrate more on reviewing books.

What have I discovered about myself in keeping this blog? Mainly that I’m a lot more conceited and opinionated than I thought I was. Reading back through these posts, I think I sound much more snobby than I ever imagine myself to be in real life. I seem to talk way too much about cars I have or used to have, material possessions I have or want, etc. I also sound a lot more cynical in writing than I am in real life – or at least, I think I do.

And enough. It’s well past midnight again, and the MacBook Pro has got less than 50% battery left. So let me end this by promising to post more often, but not to the level that makes me insane. And to review more books, but not everything I read. And to comment more on technology, but try to bring something new beyond a “me, too” review. And… maybe to try not to sound so damn smug all the time.

And above all, practice my motto: Embrace Change, Question Authority and Think for Yourself!

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