Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Blogito ergo sum... I blog, therefore I am.

A couple of weeks ago I posted my misgivings about anonymity and blogging. Basically, although I'm cautious, I'm not anonymous. And although this is a worry, I do feel that the internet should be 'ours' and that we shouldn't live in fear of the loony lurker eager to photoshop all our pictures. Well since then I've been inundated by at least one request to say more about my blogging philosophy, and as it's changed recently - and as this is post 398 in a series of several thousand - I thought you'd indulge me this morning if I engaged in a spot of navel gazing.

Regular readers of this blog might've noticed that it underwent a bit of a makeover several weeks ago. Nothing fancy; nothing custom-designed. Just a simple pattern from Blogger's free range of new templates, plus a Picnic-created header by me. (Look I'm a Yorkshireman, ok?) The thing is, I'd been wanting to change for a while. I'd seen these new, sleek, stream-lined templates and I liked the look of them. But I was lumbered with a site I'd tweaked and modified, added to and otherwise messed around with and the thought of having to do it all again was just too daunting.

But then (and here's the clever bit) I thought... hey, I don't have to do it all again. I can just throw out all that old stuff. I don't need it. I can set myself free. I can cast it off like last year's coat and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.

First to go was the DISQUS comments add-on. That was patched into the template, so as soon as I clicked 'change' it vanished. And I hardly noticed it. Now, I do like threaded comments and I miss not being able to reply personally to each and every one, but blog standard ain't bad. So, it's back to comment basics.

Next, there was the Google analytics code. Well, Blogger (which is part of Google anyway) now provide their own stats so when it's raining I can still amuse myself by looking up the weird and wonderful ways people 'land' on my pages. (Anyone else get an unfathomably large number of hits from a London coach company?)

Then, of course, there were those 'other' bits and pieces. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. Those strings of html we're all persuaded to patch in so that our blog can be 'ranked' by some new ratings site, or Wikio-ed or Klouted or some such. I admit, I've done it myself. Somewhere, there was something so that Technorati could 'claim' me (sounds special, but it isn't); elsewhere there were bits and pieces allowing anyone and everyone to trace me, measure me, rank me, compare me and otherwise size me up for something or other.

I can't pretend that being on 'ze list' and watching your name go bobbing up and down each month isn't fun. But surely, for the love of God, there can only be so many measurement metrics? And quite how or why a blog like mine can be so high in one and so low in another is a mystery. But then, I know next-to-nothing about the dark arts of SEO. And what little I know, I often don't do. I don't place 'keywords' and search terms in my titles. I like my titles the way they are. Which is how I like my blog, really. And if other people like it, that's a real bonus. Because - as I've said before - this is fun, it's engaging, and it's jolly entertaining.

So, there you have it. Scrubbed, stripped bare and presented to you as is, in all it's nakedness. No, not me - this blog. These words. Because - at the end of the day - that's what this is, isn't it? Not hits and tricks and link-backs. Words. Words read by other people. Words that are sometimes worth reading.

And if you have been, thanks. Because that's what makes it all worth doing.

51 comments:

  1. See I saw the word naked and my ears perked up...

    Good ethos to have, I know that I am guilty of many of the stat gazing days but seeing as I know nothing about SEO I wonder why I do gaze.


    BNM

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  2. I had a similar 'what am I doing this for' moment BNM... and the rest (and the stats) is history!

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  3. I'm slowly coming to the same conclusion Tim. My blog began because I wanted an 'outlet' and now I find myself wondering whether I should post something in case someone is offended, or even worse, bored! Somewhere along the line I have changed my style of writing (if you can call it writing) and I now have an audience in mind, which is wrong. I need to get back to basics. Thanks for this, got me thinking now.

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  4. Never happier than when I've got somebody thinking NSM - and thanks for commenting!

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  5. It's wierd isn't it? The longer you blog, the more tied up you become in who is reading, why you're blogging at all, and what you should post. And you can't help being a little wrapped up in how popular you are. And then of course you might just try to 'catch' those followers. None of it was what I imagined I might be doing when I started. I've taken a little un-planned break from my blog reccently as life got a little hectic, but actually I think it's helped me to put the whole thing in perspective and return to my original - and nobler(!) - reasons for blogging.

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  6. I'm all for a return to nobler reasons for anything, Kate. I'm not against all the other stuff in principle, but my dilemma over doing a simple thing like changing the template suggested the tail had started to wag the dog... which is never very healthy!

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  7. Tim,
    Excellent post. I love your NAKED look and love more, your NAKED attitude. I think that's what comes from blogging experience. You get enticed by perks and some notariety and then that wears off and you realise that it's not ALL THAT so why stress about it. Excellent Sir Tim! I applaud your stripped-back look and mentality. Sexy stuff! ;)

    Karin

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  8. You've got a point, Karin. It's easy to get 'sucked in' and forget why we started blogging in the first place. Glad you like the 'naked' look too!

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  9. When I first started blogging it seemed such a simple thing - write when you have something you wish to say. The water seems muddier now and,as you say, it's not healthy. The competitive element creeps in and while that can spur us on, if we're not careful it can lead to blogging out of desperation....and everyone can spot that a mile off!

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  10. I agree - I think we should all do what we want and not get so hung up on stats and rankings. I'm It's all pretty arbitrary. I know people say what's the point of writing good content if no-one knows it's there because you (not you, generic you) don't optimise the search rankings etc, and you don't put badges on etc, but I still think there's a happy medium. I like my own blog bare.

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  11. I agree that fundamentally blogging should make you happy. And anything that doesn't do that, or which makes you unhappy, is a waste of time and energy.

    But I must say that search terms provide me with an almost endless source of amusement. It's amazing the nouns you can find in your search referrals with the word 'porn' added on the end, but it's a fascinating view into the darker corners of the human psyche.

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  12. I agree. Personally I don't think it's good to get too hung up on stats and rankings and SEO and all that stuff. A smattering perhaps but not so it takes over - there's a risk all blogs become identikits. Personally I like bare blogs!

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  13. I totally agree and I'm pleased that I'm not standing alone in this more naked arena of bare blogging. I can't be doing with all the gizmos and gadgets as I just like blogging for fun and the enjoyment of getting the brain going to write, even as a warm up before facing the novel! I love getting comments and the interaction of other lovely folk, but can't be arsed with seeing ratings or whaever (don't know how to anyway!!). We should stat a new cult of naked bloggers! In the 'back to basics' sense, natch!

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  14. I removed the stats thingy from my blog. What that means is that unless I log into Google Analytics (which is a faff) I have no idea who (if anyone) is reading my blog. I used to post and then go and check a little thingy which told me who was online, and I could find out how many people read each day, and blah blah blah. But y'know what? I don't do adverts, I don't want to monetise my blog (I don't actually know what monetising is, actually - shh) and I don't do PR stuff. So it doesn't really matter, does it? Here's to getting back to old style blogging for the sake of it!

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  15. Blogging should be - is - ultimately a simple and straightforward thing Trish. As well as sociable... I love your video of your mum this morning, for example - what a wonderful thing to share.

    Well, you're not wrong about the amusement factor, Sally. Except in my case it's more often the bemusement factor. Why is so much of my traffic coming via a London coach hire company? Can anybody tell me?

    Maybe we should start a movement DB... The 'Dare to be Bare' Bloggers?

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  16. Ah, Diney... you beat me to it. The movement has started... let the stripping-down begin!

    Well, I can't fault that attitude Rachael... although, as you can see, I do do ads and stuff. But I'm darned if I'm going to accept another invitation to 'submit your blog to our ranking system.' You rank if you want to; the blogger's not for raking...

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  17. I didn't even know there were such rating facilities. I read about it the other day on someone else's blog. Better not to know i think.

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  18. Ignorance is bliss, Polly. At least, some of the time...

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  19. I'm a bit rubbish at raking, too. Tee hee.

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  20. (And incidentally I hadn't noticed the adverts until you pointed them out - I am spectacularly unobservant!)

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  21. I am a great believer in there is something for everyone out there and I love the variation of all the blogs I read. I have never been a stats person, but that has always been me. They don't validate me and never have, but I can see why they would some people. I am not going to dis them for it. The great thing about blogging is there is no right or wrong way to do it and you will get readers regardless

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  22. You get so many comments, I almost didn't want to bother you with yet another. But after all these years...just to say I think it shows incredible mental health - much more than I have - to be able to look at all those rankings and not get overcome and underwhelmed by them all. looking at those things just make me feel competitive,that is to say, like a loser. Your blog's great. Obviously, hordes of us love it and stick with it. My only question...what will happen when Charlie gets too old and big for that picture. Will you replace it with one of him holding you? :-)

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  23. Well Rachael, that says something about either you or the ads - or both. But you very observantly spotted my typo! Maybe the ads should have more of them?

    Well said, Jen. And that's the beauty of it - as you say, there's something for everyone.

    It's not always as busy as this, Sue. I seem to have struck a chord with this morning's post... it'll be business as usual on Thursday!

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  24. Morning!

    Nice thoughts about blogs and we, bloggers, and it all made me think of the things I write and post.

    Keep the nice job.

    Antonio

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  25. I rather like your stripped bare image. It's terribly becoming. I suspect as you are a Blogger of te Year, you are just setting another trend *sighs* *wishes she could be more like you*

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  26. Here, here young man. I *never* understood Technorati and panicked when someone asked if I'd claimed my blog. WTF? So, I'm with you. I am still on the same old basic Blogger template I started out with - I just added a bit of spaghetti lettering art deco to the top bit! And I like it that way!

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  27. Well, DM, it might make for a bit less fashion anxiety at this year's Cybermummy!

    Me too, Hazel.. although I do rather like - and am slightly jealous of - your spaghetti art!

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  28. I like the basic blogger - ultimately, it's the words that count.

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  29. Do you know, I thought you must have known loads about SEO, (mind you everyone nows more than me, I've never got Technogrotti to work ever).
    I think the blog looks great- I am debating changing mine, but I am a large wuss bag, but my hand will be forced next year when I'm no longer 20something.

    And no, I also get the large amounts of hits via the coach company and still have no idea how.

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  30. No Claire, I'm a complete and utter amateur... and happy to stay that way!

    What is it about that coach company, eh?

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  31. I'm way too lazy to change anything much on my blog. I went from a boring green look to one with a glass of something green (I like green) but when I look at old blog posts, I can't say they're terribly different from the ones I post now. Not sure that's such a great thing either, mind but if it ain't broke, as they say...

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  32. Absolutely, Sarah. And in fact, my 'new' (simple) template is remarkably similar to - but just a little neater than - the old one.

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  33. I read writing, and I don't tend to notice adverts - I think I must be a marketing person's nightmare.

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  34. ...either that, Rachael, or you've given some marketing guru somewhere out there a brilliant idea!

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  35. I'm afraid that I've turned into a selfish blogger but I have to do it to protect my sanity. I blog when/what/how I want. I reply on my blog and if I am lucky I might have time to wander over to someone's blog and then maybe leave a comment...

    I still have the strong urge to write every so often. It's wonderful that people do read it some of the time. I'm very happy with that.

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  36. Clearly you're writing what somebody wants to read, H. Without the bells and whistles of SEO and rankings.

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  37. I've been through those "why am I blogging" moments but they soon pass. I closed my old Blogger blog and changed to WordPress just for a change and because my Blogger blog - which I still love - was chockablock with this and that and bells and whistle. So I stripped myself bare, so to speak, and have gone for the clean look.

    Your comments won't accept my WordPress identity so Blogger it is! This is my blog: http://theothersideofparis.wordpress.com/

    I don't publish tons of pix anymore - as you say it's the words that matter. My stats have halved since by blogger days but I rarely bother to look. But when I started out I loved all those gadgets showing traffic and who and from where everyone came.

    And, all said and done, I blog for myself - not to make money.

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  38. Well said, sir! And that's an aspect of this hobby I had overlooked - we change as we continue blogging. But some things have to stay the same. And as you said, that's what we write.

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  39. I get so few comments Ive thought of writing them myself.As for looking at the phrases people use to search for me...it's fascinating "Poems of hurt" "Adultery limericks" "Sex with crutches" "Look stranger on this island..what does it mean"
    Some are companies that write dissertaions for students so I guess someone is doing an M.A. on my works!
    I agree with you that one can lose the original motives for starting the blog.Strangely I have moved into Art not words!
    Yours is always interesting and I agree that we should not let the nasties take over the internet.

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  40. Thank you Kate - and we must stick together on that one. As for the comments, well... this post has attracted more comments than anything I've written lately, and I've no idea why. Although I always thing reading and - if you can - commenting on blogs is likely to reap some reward.

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  41. Man after my own heart. Booted technorati out a year ago and no longer subscribe to any blogging ranking system. It's all about the writing. The be all and end all. Feel healthier for it.

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  42. Don't even know what this Technorati is. I like you (and your blog) just the way you are, Tim! Ciao. A.

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  43. It's rather liberating, isn't is Steve? I should have done it months ago, like you.

    That's the way I'd stay Antonella, if I were you. I know, but wish I didn't! Thanks for your kind words.

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  44. If I strip down any further I'll be arrested for public lewdity or something. I am such a Luddite when it comes to the technical stuff that I just don't even bother. When I first started I think I put myself on a few on the lists, but since that was all I did, I'm probably not even on them any longer.
    I have Stattcounter which I barely looked at anyway, and now that Blogegr does all the Stat stuff for us, well, that's one more thing to ignore...

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  45. Oh, you mustn't do that EM. They're so entertaining! Probably not informative, but where else could you discover that people find your blog by typing 'Brazilian pony-girl scouts' into Google?

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  46. I rather like you stripped bare in all your nakedness as it were

    Ahem

    Which is to say I agree (althogh I do like the odd stats fest)

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  47. Hmmm, not quite sure how to take that, Muddling... and as for the stats fest, well, that almost makes it worse ;)

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  48. Loving the naked you, TD, as others have said - Not sure what SEO is, but I was one in the job David Cameron has just shoved me out of ;)...

    Glad you're happy to be you - that's all anyone in life should wish for - Wish we could all learn that lesson x

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  49. Ah, a different - and tangible - SEO I suspect, WoNI... sad to hear of David Cameron's decision to dispense with your services, though. His loss.

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