Molly asks why we blog. I don’t know why you blog, but I know why I blog. Therefore, it’s time to blog about blogging. (Not nearly so brilliantly as did Shelley, I admit.)
Though I still detest the word “blog”. I’m not too keen on the chronoillogical order of posting, either, but that’s a whole other barrel of fish.
My journal here is a way of communicating, which is one of the most powerful drives humans possess. Just about everything I’ve done professionally has had, at its core, the intent of making it easier for people to communicate. Back at CWRU, for example, I wrote a series of HTML tutorials in order to help lower the barrier to publishing information online. For me, meyerweb.com started life as a way to connect with readers of my then-forthcoming O’Reilly book, as well as with folks who were already familiar with my work in CSS. Posts were mostly technical or book-related at first. Over time, I started to mix more of myself and my personal view of the world into the site.
Like Molly, I’ve gotten negative feedback here and there. Some people have attacked me for views I’ve expressed; others berated me for wasting their time with non-technical posts; a few even insulted and belittled me for daring to not precisely meet their expectations. I did eventually set up separate technical and personal syndication feeds, along with a combined feed, although most of the reason I did it was so that my non-technical friends could keep up with the site, not the other way around. I find it slightly depressing that the technical feed is one of the most popular URLs on the site. Apparently, many of my readers are only interested in what I can teach them, and not in who I am.
In that light, it might seem foolish to continue putting time and energy into personal posts, but I am steadfast in my conviction that suppressing the personal side of the site would be far more foolish. I can summarize why I believe this with a single incident.
Early this year, I posted a personal entry about communicating with Carolyn via sign language. Soon after, I got e-mail from a reader—a name many of you would recognize, as it happens—thanking me for that post.
His son, you see, does not speak, and never has. The son is more than old enough to be verbal, and is in all other ways mentally normal and healthy. He has simply never started to talk. It had never occurred to the correspondent that sign language might be an option for communication. Learning that Kat and I had successfully taught sign language to Carolyn, a child less than half his son’s age, was a revelation for him. It was, potentially, a truly life-changing moment for his entire family.
That is why I will never stop posting my thoughts, sharing my views, and trying to connect with readers on a personal level. That is why the occasional complaints or flames that I’m too personal or too facile or too arrogant or too liberal or too whatever just roll off my back, as interesting and injurious to me as last month’s weather report. And that is why I think the people who only read technical posts, here or on any site, are doing themselves a grave disservice. They’re closing themselves off to more than they can possibly know.