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Why I Blog

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.

12 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Mon 25 Jul 2005
    • 1048
    Small Paul wrote in to say...

    Amen. I came here because I’d read The Definitive Guide, and I’ve stayed for the whole lot. What could be better than coding tidbits, plus cute descriptions of Molly hugging Mickey & friends at Disneyworld? Aw!

    The neat thing about the internet is that, if one person has faced a problem and written about ways around it, anyone with internet access can find the answer in literally minutes. This is the change that the internet has really made to the world, and we’ve barely even noticed. How did we find stuff out in the old days? More slowly.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Mon 25 Jul 2005
    • 1135
    Richard Wright wrote in to say...

    I subscribe to all your feeds. Not because I have a special interest in your personal life; I don’t. We have never met, and are unlikely to, if only because we live half a world apart. Nor do I remember anywhere near as much of your personal posts as I do of the technical ones.
    However, the personal posts paint the picture of Eric the man, rather than Eric the CSS guru, and it is, after all, the human Eric who does the writing regardless of the topic.
    I suppose I am saying that while I can happily read articles by someone whose technical expertise I hold in high regard, I much more look forward to reading the posts if I also respect the humanity of the author.
    So please, keep up the personal posts. I, for one, feel like I am getting to know you, in a weird sort of internet-only acquaintanceship (is that a word?)

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Mon 25 Jul 2005
    • 1851
    Rowen wrote in to say...

    Ditto – although I’m looking forward to meeting you at WE05 :)

    I’m amazed at the people who get uppity about what someone does or doesn’t do with their own blog. Rather than being grateful for the tips and skills, they whine about that free content not being served exactly how they would like it. Well, I for one am grateful for the tips and skills, but I also value the personal posts. If you stop doing those, I’ll send you an abusive email :)

    • #4
    • Pingback
    • Mon 25 Jul 2005
    • 2304
    Received from » Why Do We Blog Asks Molly : Pig Work : Weblog of Freelance Designer Steven Clark aka Norty Pig, Hobart, Tasmania

    […] pm Molly discusses Why We Blog and Eric puts in Why I Blog and I thought it might be interesting to say why there are Norty Pig blogs as […]

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Mon 25 Jul 2005
    • 2337
    Will Kessel wrote in to say...

    Eric, please write what you feel compelled to write; I will read every word of it. I subscribe to the entire feed, plus the “Excuse of the Day.” The one makes me think; the other makes me laugh.

    As my bride and I embark on the journey of parenthood (we’re trying — I know, VERY trying! — seriously though, trying to have a child), I relish each and every post about Carolyn and her progression. In fact, Laura and I plan to teach our child sign language as soon as it’s practical — because of your post.

    So figure this: you have changed two — make that at least three — lives just by posting what you want to post. Where I come from, just doing that for one person merits the Ultimate Reward.

    So, please, Eric, keep on writing from the heart; you never know whom you will affect.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Tue 26 Jul 2005
    • 1958
    Daniel E. Renfer wrote in to say...

    It was that post that made me go to Amazon and purchase a Baby Signs book. We plan on teaching our son signs when he gets a bit older. (He’s only a month old, atm.)

    I enjoy your technical posts, but I read bloggers because I like how they write. I’m mostly interested in posts about the web, but if I didn’t take time to read your other posts, I’d have missed that post. (and many other good ones too)

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Wed 27 Jul 2005
    • 1137
    PurplePenny wrote in to say...

    It’s your personal stuff that I like to read. When you admire a person’s work it is always nice to find out that said person is a decent human being as well.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Sat 30 Jul 2005
    • 0953
    Char James-Tanny wrote in to say...

    As everyone else has mentioned, I like the personal stuff. I think it’s nice that you allow us to see these little peeks into your personal life. Family is important, and you show how much your family means to you while continuing to provide great technical knowledge.

    • #9
    • Pingback
    • Sat 6 Aug 2005
    • 0255
    Received from Just Relax! :: Summary: August 6, 2005 :: August :: 2005

    […]

    August 6, 2005
    Summary: August 6, 2005
    Posted under: Summary

    Why I Blog This is not a new article. It was dated July 25, 2005. But the question is ev […]

    • #10
    • Pingback
    • Sat 6 Aug 2005
    • 0255
    Received from Just Relax! :: Summary: August 6, 2005 :: August :: 2005

    […]

    August 6, 2005
    Summary: August 6, 2005
    Posted under: Summary

    Why I Blog This is not a new article. It was dated July 25, 2005. But the question is ev […]

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Sat 6 Aug 2005
    • 1632
    Matt Robin wrote in to say...

    Note: You are one of my ‘Web Heroes’ – if I do check your site from time to time, it isn’t solely for technical know-how but also maybe to see what your views are on certain non-tech things too. I think the only reason your feed(s) are not one of my regular ones though is that your content isn’t updated regularly enough and only requires me to check it direct from the site now and again.
    I really suspect you are too damn busy being a super-busy css-guru and family man to have time to keep this site buzzing with content updates on the same frequency as say (Molly’s site for example). And that’s cool with me – no grumble! I’m just interested when a new thread is added.
    Also, sometimes, although I find your technical posts interesting – they are frequently broadening to include technologies that I don’t know much about + don’t have the time to learn right now….so I have to let those thread go…pass me by…
    So actually – it’s the more personal blog-entries that I can relate to a little bit more!!! :)

    Regards,

    Matt
    (Hertfordshire, England)

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Sat 6 Aug 2005
    • 1637
    Matt Robin wrote in to say...

    Further note: Eric – your writings about CSS were the main inspiration for me embracing it and that (one way or another) has led me to ONLY make sites with CSS now and more attention to Web Standards too.

    Added note: Molly is my other ‘Web Hero’ …(But I think she already knows this!!)

    :)

    Matt

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