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On the benefits of microblogging

The five or so regulars readers of this blog may have noticed a pattern of promises made and not kept of things I will, may, or should discuss at some future, unspecified point. These were usually somewhere in the margin notes, but sometimes I would end with a cliffhanger. The topics included mental models, notable microblogs, and ABIM’s financial shenenigans; in my head, the list was significantly longer, and the items expanded into 1,000+ word posts that would be a slog to reference, a nightmare to edit, and which no one would ultimately read.

Up until last year, whatever I thought about those topics would stay in my head, waiting for the stars to align and for the Gods of chaos and time Also known as my children. to smile upon their humble servant. Which is a net good for the reading public — who needs to read the unbaked thoughts of an oncologist? — but as Cory Doctorow wrote, having one’s thoughts written down is good practice both for developing them and for future reference. I was, in a way, depriving my future self of the benefit of knowing how big of a fool my past self was.

But ever since learning of the combination This is Miraz Jordan’s brief YouTube introduction to the two; 15 minutes of time well spent if you have even a tiny bit of interest., I’ve maintained a daily log of thoughts, readings, viewings, and writings. The low friction of the tools begs for scattered non-sequiturs and word salads — think of an unkempt Obsidian database — but the semi-social veneer that provides tempers my worst instincts and makes the posts better overall for everyone exposed, including my future self. Sure, those longer texts still don’t get written — although, just watch this one grow! — but for personal use the snippets are even more valuable (and easier to skim).

Not everyone should be a capital-b Blogger — or have a gated newsletter for that matter — but many more people could benefit from a small-p personal blog of the commonplace type. The reason I bristle at overproduced “content” and at statements that anyone who writes must give it their all, strive to perfect everything they write above the 80%-done good-enough-for-government-work standard that is close to my heart, is that they create the wrong impression of what blogging could/should/would be if it hadn’t been for the Huffington Posts and the Gawkers of the peak-blog internet that equated blogging with monetization. And also why I took an initial dislike of The Curator’s Code despite its obvious usefulness. Why should personal blogging be standardized? It’s Personal!

And if you want to find some of these to read, for instruction, inspiration, or just plain enjoyment? Outside of the great blogs — check out the Discover page for a daily sampling — there is Dave Winer’s, John Naughton’s Memex, Ian Betteridge’s Technovia, Reader John’s Tipsy Teetotaler, Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True, and oh so many more.

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