Ben Ramsey

Ideas of March

Twitter pretty much killed blogging for me. When I signed up for the service six years ago, I was blogging quite a bit, but Twitter’s rapid-fire, ultra-short status updates have given me a 140-character attention span. Not only did I stop blogging, but I stopped reading blogs, too. Reading and writing became a chore. While I could fire off a message on Twitter within minutes or seconds of crafting it, blogging was an endeavor that took much longer—hours or even days, at times.

You see, the thing is: I care about the words I write. Probably too much. But with Twitter, I stopped caring. Its ephemeral nature means I don’t have to care. Until recently, even searching for posts on Twitter only went back so far. When I blog, I have to read and re-read the words I have written, over and over. This doesn’t stop after I finally decide to publish a post. Instead, I continue to pore over my post, reading it in its published form and eagerly awaiting potential comments. I’m doing it even as I write this. It can be stressful.

When Google announced this week their decision to shut down Google Reader, it stirred up unresolved emotions in me. I know that sounds silly, but while I haven’t been reading or writing blog posts very much over the last six years, the concept of the blog still holds a dear place in my heart. Blogs are important communication and knowledge-sharing tools. They have revolutionized the way we spread information (or mis-information). I believe they are still important and have a continuing part to play in how we communicate with each other. Without the concept of the blog, it would have been impossible for many of the folks we consider leaders in our various technology communities to have had a platform to share their voices and ideas.

Earlier this year, I made a resolution to myself to begin reading blogs again. I returned to the Google Reader account I had set up long ago and connected it to NetNewsWire on my desktop and phone. I have been pretty good about reading things, and I have tried to treat it a bit like I treat Twitter; if I get behind on reading, I just “mark as read” and continue on, without stressing over it. Some of the things I’m reading have been inspiring me to write again, and I felt it was only a matter of time before this incessant writer’s block was broken and the words began flowing freely again. I believe that time is now.

This isn’t a post to discuss the ramifications of Google’s decision to pull the plug on Google Reader. Nor do I want to consider whether blogs are dying. Those are thoughts better left to other bloggers. What I do want you to think about, however, is how blogging has affected you, whether through your own blog or the blogs of others. Has it helped you be more successful? The answer for me is “yes,” and for this reason, I resolve to read even more, be liberal with my comments on others’ blogs, and write without fear.

Thanks goes to Chris Shiflett for inspiring this post. Be sure to take time and read his original Ideas of March post from 2011, as well as his most recent one.

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