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Monday, April 07, 2008

What kind of blog is this: The threshold of separating online personae

I got a comment recently:
Anonymous said...

Bloggers shouldn't feel compelled to add new entries every day or week. With Google reader, for example, it's easy to keep track of what's new.

I added this blog to my Google reader hoping to read technical stuff. The personal lives of programmers are like the lives of all the rest of us, that is to say, probably not very interesting except perhaps to friends and family.
So, I'm sorry that this person posted anonymously because it means I have to reply to him on the blog, rather than just to him. I guess this response is really mostly for that person. (Yes, I refer to him as 'him'. I hope 'he' will understand if 'he' turns out to be 'she'.)

Dear person: I'm glad you are interested in what I have to say about technology, and I clearly appreciate your feedback. Look at the size of this response! While your post is a bit proscriptive and presumptive, I think you make good points, and did not intend to malign or be snooty. I want to address your points. At the same time, I just want to be clear: I'm not terribly interested if individuals read my blog or not, but by that I mean, I won't change the amount of effort I put in to it. Blogs, like web pages, are very personal and self-involved efforts. It's all about me. I've heard that MST3K worked that way: they wrote their show for themselves, and it turned out some people liked it. Like that.

I have been, for almost four years, using this same blog for both technical and personal posts. Recently, the posts became more personal, and I realized it was important to separate the two. You'll see that in early March I announced my intention to eventually split off this blog into two, leaving Blatherberg as it is, and moving the technical posts elsewhere. What happened? I went on vacation. Some time after I return I'm going to be pretty happy to do this. I still haven't posted my thoughts about EclipseCon. I also want to use it as a place where I can publish some of my externally-safe company blog posts.

I am intentionally posting daily updates. I have been encouraged to continue to do so by the people for whom they are intended, which as you pointed out correctly, are my friends and family. However, none of them are not going to get a subscription to Google Reader for me. I use Google Reader, but they sure don't, and this vacation isn't going to change that. Not even my friend Pete, who just reads each and every blog, one at a time, every day. I can't seem to convince him. That said, I wanted to merge the two worlds together, combining photos and blog with my friends and family, without having to repackage them together. Perhaps that is a flaw of the blog? Why do I need two blogs? I'm one person, it should be easy enough for me to segment in to two very distinct faces (and no, not by the labels which can be as free flowing as I want my artsy pants to be.) Find me a blogging service that does that, let's me create two distinct buckets, where all posts go in Either A Or B, and I'd look at it.

You could, if you liked, use Yahoo! Pipes to filter my posts, but the nature of labels makes this somewhat unreliable.

Incidentally, this problem compounds a little bit when using FriendFeed, because hey, should I have two friendfeed accounts? One for my personal self and one for my technical self? (It's my guess that you actually found me through my FriendFeed feed.) Do I need two twitter accounts? I think this is a bit of a flaw in the whole online persona thing, particularly for people like me, where the amount of work required to separate the persona may be too close to the threshold of acceptable confusion. But separate them I may have to do, particularly if I want to use blogging as a way to create a good technical persona.

So there's a little bit of technology in there, rather, a commentary about blogs and one the flaws of blogs and RSS and so on. My friend Mark would have more to say on that, but he can put it on his own stupid blog, if he ever made one. :)

But look, if you made it this far, I hope you'll stay. Don't leave, not yet. I will be back from vacation soon, and when I am, I'll focus on getting the technical blog all fixed up and ready to go, and when I do, I'll announce it here, on this blog. I'd love for you to read it if you find it interesting. If you feel like you must unsubscribe from this blog, then please, do so, but then find a way to send me your email address, and I'll just tell you privately when I get it set up.

Thanks again for your comment. I hope this reply was useful for you. It was a useful thought exercise for me.

3 comments:

swankjesse said...

For what it's worth, I like the mix.

If you split the work blog from the play blog, I'll subscribe to both.

Anonymous said...

Please post whatever you want, all work and no blather makes for a dull blog!

justbecausejeremy said...

I like both of your types of posts. Personally, I like the munged blog. When you and I talked about splitting your blog previously, I never thought to actually offer my opinion. To me, you are both geek and fun guy. I don't really think of you as separate personae. There, you now have my opinion. Why? Just because.