Blogging is hard, but it shouldn’t be. “How hard can it be to write your rants, thoughts and ideas?” I hear you protesting. But it is hard, or at least harder than it should be. Many times during the day I think, “this is cool; I should blog this.” But when I sit down at my computer, or complete the task I’m working on, I don’t have the time or motivation to open a browser, navigate to the Movable Type interface, and type the events, ideas,and/or commentary in a coherent fashion. This entry? Been thinking about it for a good 48 hours. The result is that I blog less, although possibly each entry receives more thought before being posted. Somehow, though, I’m not convinced that the extra thought is really such a good thing. In fact, I am convinced that there are lots of good ideas in my head that never make it onto the web because of this barrier. In examining this issue, I think of two things: first, why do I blog, and second, how can it be any easier? So first, why do I blog. I blog for selfish reasons: I want a permanent record of my thoughts, actions and ideas. I also want feedback, criticism and suggestions. In short, I blog because my voice matters, and because blogging is a way for me to collaborate with people I’ve never seen or met. It helps connect me to a larger community that I enjoy being part of.
So how can I make it easier? What “use case” isn’t being satisfied? There are a couple situations I frequently encounter that I wish could be handled more transparently.
First, when I run across a web page or blog entry that either strikes me as insightful or that contains a nugget of information I want to retain. If it’s insightful, I often want to add my voice to the fray; +1, as it were. I don’t always have a pithy comment or addition to make, I just want to reinforce the idea. The pages with some long-sought nugget of information usually get bookmarked, which is really the worst model for me to use: I use several machines, don’t sync my bookmarks, and often have to repeat the search process many times through the life of a project. So “blogging” those pages embeds them in my own space on the web (another selfish application of blogging, I guess).
The second situation I frequently encounter is the desire to post a status update or progress report on an open source project. I work on a couple of open source projects, and because my time is often spread thin, I’d like to post something to my blog when I make an update or pay attention to a particular bug. I’m not vain enough to believe that users are obsessively clicking reload waiting for an update to mozCC, but I do know from my e-mail coorespondance that people like to know what’s going on. I like to know what’s going on. But the updates don’t often warrant a full-fledged blog entry, and I don’t feel like I can write enough to make it warrant the effort it takes. It should be easier.
So what can be done to make blogging easier? I don’t believe I’m the only one who feels this way (although I suppose it’s possible), so it seems like there should be some pent up desire. These are the ideas I’ve come up with, in no particular order. I don’t know when I’ll get around to working on them, but I’m really interested in hearing if people have the same problem or if they have other suggestions.
- a blog manager/posting side-bar for Mozilla and Firefox; if it were right in my browser, it might be easier to work with. I think someone suggested this for Movable Type at one point, but I haven’t seen it implemented. Ideally it would use something like the Atom API so it would work with more than just a single tool.
- a way to quickly +1 a page and have it reflected in my blog; maybe a “hey, this is cool” mini-blog sidebar like Ernie has?
- a way to easily post status reports, work logs, etc, similar to .plan files back in the day; or maybe .plan meets IM status messages
- a better way to collaborate on documents. This doesn’t fall completely into this category, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since reading the A Manifesto for Collaborative Tools in Dr. Dobb’s this month.
Wow. I figured there’d be a lot more items in that list, but the primary one is the first: integrate blogging with a tool I already use. Whether that’s my web browser or e-mail client, if posting to my blog were a first-class software citizen, I think I’d do it more. What about you?