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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

The most important blog

Seth Godin:

Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.

And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.

His post is about the most important blog post. I’m saying that the most important blog is yours.

Simon Collison on personal websites

Simon Collison:

You tend your domain like you steadily improve your home, and it can take years of false starts and incremental commits. Don’t think of it as urgent work, or — heaven forbid — a “side-hustle”.

Don’t I know it.

Well, well over twenty years on. Still loving it.

Matthias Ott on having a personal web site

Matthias Ott on CSS-Tricks:

Personal websites still deliver on that promise. Nowhere else do you have that much freedom to create and share your work and to tell your personal story. It is your chance to show what you stand for, to be different, and to be specific. Your site lets you be uniquely you and it can be whatever you imagine it to be.

Today is the perfect day to start your own web site if you don’t have one.

I think it’s great how Joe Van Cleave is typing his blog posts on a typewriter and sharing it. He also builds his own cameras.

A new theme for my site

Update December 10, 2020: I tried. And I’ve now reverted.

For the last several years I’ve been using a customized version of the Davis theme by Anders Norén. I started using the theme right out of the box and slowly customized it to my needs as I had time to do so. And for that entire time it worked very well for me.

However, I’ve been ready for a change. So I went back to Anders’ site to see what else he had that I could use to start from. So I found Koji, the theme that is currently running on my site. I’ve already spent a bit of time customizing a few things – such as showing photo counts on the image posts, showing the first photo (rather than featured photos since I don’t use that WordPress feature), showing my status posts in a different way, etc. I still have a laundry list of things I need to tweak (such as the homepage) but I’ll get to that list as I have time.

One big addition that I’d like to make to my website is to build a completely new area to showcase my photography portfolio that is wholly separate from the image posts I have right now. It would be something much more akin to a photographer’s portfolio that is project oriented. And, I may even add the ability to purchase handmade prints.

Expect my site to be constantly receiving small little updates over the coming months but it feels really good to have something fresh.

I recommend checking out Anders’ work.

Andy Baio interviews the owner of the house on Blue Lick Road

Andy Baio:

But a larger question remained: what’s the deal with this place? Whoever owned it, they were too organized to be hoarders. The home appeared to double as the office and warehouse for an internet reseller business, but who sells a house crammed floor-to-ceiling with retail goods?

With all of the mud slinging and doom scrolling going on over the last few months this was a welcome break. Leave it to Andy to track down the owner and interview them for his personal blog.

Brain Pickings turns 14

Maria Popova:

The challenge has never been more colossal than this past year — the most trying I have lived through, by orders of magnitude. Depression has lowered its leaden cloudscape over me again and again since I was fifteen, but no other year has lidded life more ominously, as the staggering collective grief we are living through together densified the black fog of private loss. In such seasons of life, one is pressed against the limits of one’s being, pressed eventually against the understanding — no, more than understanding and less than understanding: the blind elemental fact — that no matter the outer atmosphere of circumstance, one must lift the inner cloudscape by one’s own efforts, or perish under it.

I’ve linked to Brain Pickings several times over the years. I could easily link to every single post written there. Congrats to Maria on 14 years and equally so getting through this one.

Give Micro.blog 2.0 features a try for free

Manton Reece:

For the Micro.blog 2.0 launch week, we’ve enabled the new bookmark archiving and highlights feature for everyone to try out.

Personal blogging has gotten a big boost over the last several years. In part due to people’s abhorrence of the policies of the social networks du jour, but also as a direct result of Micro.blog existing.

You can, and presumably will always be able to, syndicate your own web site to Micro.blog for free. You can follow and comment there as well for free. But these two features Manton mentions are new and are a paid upgrade. So it is nice to have a week to play with them.

Seems like now is a great time to give Micro.blog 2.0 a try on the web, on your computer, and on your phone.

See also: Manton with the new features in 2.0.

Photography blogs in OPML

Back in August I linked to Jim Grey’s list of photography blogs. At the time I subscribed to nearly every single one with an RSS feed. He has since updated the list a bit so I urge you to check it out.

I’ve created an OPML file of my photography blog subscriptions which includes most of Jim’s list and a few other blogs. I plan on adding the updates Jim has made to his list. This should make it really easy to subscribe to them all in one shot*.

Feel free to update the OPML on Github with more URLs and submit the edits.

/* If you’re on the Mac, and don’t currently subscribe to blogs, I suggest NetNewswire.

Austin Kleon reflects on 15 years of blogging

Austin Kleon:

Every time I start a new post, I never know for sure where it’s going to go. This is what writing and making art is all about: not having something to say, but finding out what you have to say. It’s thinking on the page or the screen or in whatever materials you manipulate. Blogging has taught me to embrace this kind of not-knowing in my other art and my writing.

After 15 years on this domain and 24 years blogging in total I agree with Austin. Writing is how I think.

Blogs are the best.

Matt Webb’s 15 rules for blogging

Matt Webb finds himself on a bit of a tear on his personal blog:

I’ve now been writing new posts for 24 consecutive weeks. Multiple posts a week. How on earth? I just calculated it, and I’ve added the live streak count to the site footer. I wonder how long I can keep it up.

He goes on to list his 15 rules for blogging. I prefer to call them goals rather than rules but it is his blog who am I to say?

That said, I don’t personally agree with every single one of his rules. My favorite is likely #14. However, writing is like dieting, do whatever works for you. There are no rules.

Relevant, perhaps, to his list are my personal blogging tips. Maybe you can take what Webb writes and what I’ve written and come up with your own.

Reply links in RSS feed

Eric Meyer:

Inspired by Jonnie Hallman, I’ve added a couple of links to the bottom of RSS items here on meyerweb: a link to the commenting form on the post, and a mailto: link to send me an email reply.  I prefer that people comment, so that other readers can gain from the reply’s perspective, but not all comments are meant to be public.  Thus, the direct-mail option.

This topic has come up a few times. Most recently, I believe, there was a discussion in the NetNewswire Slack if apps like NNW should have ways to comment directly in them.

Comments are making a comeback, I think. It was just in 2017 that I turned comments back on. At the time, I wrote:

To that end I’ve decided I’ll start turning comments on some posts (like this one). I’d much prefer people reply to my blog posts on their own blog or – starting today – on my blog. Even though I like Micro.blog better than Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I want to have to navigate to that web site each time I want to reply to comments on my posts.

A large majority of my current on-site comments come from Micro.blog. I believe it is for 2 reasons. First, the community is very engaged there. Which is great. Second, it is easy to comment.

Perhaps if it were a bit easier to comment via RSS it would spur more discussion in the blogosphere. I don’t know if what Jonnie and Eric are doing is the answer to that, but it could be. I’ll set aside some time in the near future to add similar links to my RSS feed as well.

A list of film photography blogs by Jim Grey

Jim Grey:

It’s time for my annual list of film photography blogs! A great joy of film photography is the community of people who enjoy everything about it: the gear, the films, getting out and shooting, and looking at the resulting photographs. Lots of us share our adventures on our blogs.

I am so very happy this list exists. So many great, active blogs by photographers focused on so many different things. I’ve subscribed to nearly every single one that has an RSS feed.

Thanks to Jim for putting this list together.

Tim Bray on blogging

Tim Bray:

But aren’t blogs dead? · Um, nope.

Also, this bit:

Since most of us don’t even try to monetize ’em, they’re pretty ad-free and thus a snappy reading experience.

I’ve successfully monetized niche blogs in the past that made enough for a few incomes.

I’ve only tried to monetize my personal blog a few times over the last few decades of writing it. Each time didn’t really pan out. I cannot recall any singular month where my personal blog scored more than just a few hundred dollars per month. So I gave up. I’m so happy I did. The experience of both writing and reading my blog is better as a result. I do not plan to ever try to monetize my personal blog ever again.

/via Jeremy Keith.

Make RSS more visible

Marcus Herrmann:

Personal website owners – what do you think about collecting all of the feeds you are producing in one way or the other on a /feeds page? You can put your blog feed there, but also RSS generated from your Twitter account (via RSS Box), Mastodon updates, or even the starred items of the feeds you consume (if you happen to use Feedbin).

I have my subscribe page. Which sort of lends to the purpose Marcus describes. However, it didn’t specifically promote RSS itself, and it wasn’t found at the /feeds URL. Now it does and is.

I won’t be adding any additional network activity to it.

/via Jeremy Keith.

Chris Coleman has a blog

Chris Coleman:

Eventually I ran out of steam, life changed a bit, and the vacuum that this site filled in my day was filled by other things. I was 23 when I started this site. I’m 41 now. A lot has happened in 18 years, but somehow it doesn’t feel like a long time has passed.

Also, hot on the heels of my previously published post about blogging’s heyday, comes this quote from Chris:

Running a blog was different in those days. Everyone benefited from the fact that the internet was a much smaller place. Real social media was still a few years away, and dominance by the big players was even further out. People I had never heard of would add my site to the sidebar of their sites. I would usually not reciprocate, but it was nice to be recognized, and it made it possible to build an audience of regulars.

He understands the old days are gone. And the future starts now.

These are the bad times, but good things are happening.

Welcome back Chris.

I too miss the old days of blogging but they are never coming back

TTTThis:

When you search for blogs now on you see things like ‘Top 100 Blogs.’ ‘How to Make a Successful Blog.’ ‘Most Powerful 50 Blogs.’ But what you really want is 10,000 unsuccessful blogs.

Much of the linked piece is likely to be taken as hyperbole but it is mostly true-ish. It is true that it is harder to find smaller blogs via Google these days. And even truer that you no longer stumble across blogs. Unless, of course, you browse something like Micro.blog and follow link after link after link to find stuff. But even then, it is a lot of work.

It reminds me of Brent Simmons wishing there was a blog search engine. There really should be because Micro.blog doesn’t even seem to be trying to fill that role.

I’ve written about blogging’s past, present, and future so many times I’ve lost count. So I don’t have too much to add that I haven’t already written; save this.

Back when blogging started the internet was smaller. So the blogosphere felt bigger. While today, the internet is much much larger. So the active blogosphere – while likely relatively the same size as it was in 2003-2007 – simply feels a lot smaller. I suppose it depends on how you keep count. Social networks now feel so much bigger in both scale and impact. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great blogs being created every single day.

It sort of reminds me of music genres. Classical, Punk, Hip-hop. Each have had their time. It doesn’t mean that they no longer exist. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t new material being made every day in each genre. But, they’ve had their time and their impact. And each gets replaced by something different. Something new.

I’m no longer waiting for the good old days of blogging to come back. I think that was a feeling that simply can no longer be replicated.

/via Colin Walker.

Micro.blog for Teams

Manton Reece:

Today we’re launching a new feature on Micro.blog: support for multi-user blogs, so your whole team can write posts on a shared blog. We think it’s going to be great for small companies, families, and schools, with everything from shared photo blogs to podcasts.

This is a big update.

You may remember that I try to hold an interview with Manton Reece re: Micro.blog each year. Here is 2018, 2019. This year we couldn’t make it work. We tried for months. But he’s simply too busy – and now we can see why.

You may remember one of my questions of Manton in 2019’s interview mentioned “From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t know how you’re able to do as much as you do!” . Somehow Manton maintains Micro.blog’s code base, the server-side infrastructure, the iOS and Mac app, an additional photo-sharing app, customer support, billing, more than one podcast, his own personal blog, etc. And these are just the things I know about. I think we can all forgive him for not having time for an interview.

I wasn’t exaggerating with that question, I honestly have no idea how he does it.

Indoor Voices

Remember when I opined that blogging may see a surge with all of this quarantine stuff?

Indoor Voices – a new blog (on blogspot!) from over 80 quarantined writers. Kottke covers it far better than I can here.

A few weeks ago, writer Kyle Chayka Tweeted “I predict a great Blogging Renaissance,” to which also writer Kevin Nguyen responded, “i kinda wanna do a weird free-for-all quarantine blog.”

I’ll set aside some time to dive into the archives this week.

NetNewsWire is the best RSS workflow on any platform

John Gruber:

It’s exactly what I want in an RSS reader, and it has changed my daily reading habits significantly.

It is, in a way, a return to what NetNewsWire was before the NewsGator acquisition of it and FeedDemon. Both NNW and FD were my go-to ways of subscribing to every interest, person, web site I had in the web in the early 2000s.

I’m so very happy to be back on the Mac and using NetNewsWire on both desktop and iOS. Even though I enjoyed using Feedly, it cannot hold a candle to the NetNewsWire workflow.

I have one request of the NNW team that would make my life a lot better. But it appears I may not get it. Perhaps I can find some workaround.

Cameron Moll “returns” to his site

Cameron Moll:

BUT. But, my dear friends. After years of neglect, what a rush of joy seeing this site breathing again! What a privilege to be back in the author’s seat! Why did I ever leave in the first place? Oh that’s right, I been busy with life.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps the blogosphere is simply waiting in the wings. Ready to pounce. Maybe we’ll see a resurgence as people come home and remember they have a website. I certainly hope that is true.

Btw, Moll really has been here for years. The “est. in 1999” tells us enough that, like me, he’s an OG. If you look through my blog’s archives you’ll see links that date back well over 10 years to his blog – and, in some ways, Dribbble was born on his blog.

Come on blogosphere wake up!

Brent Simmons’ blog turns 20

Brent Simmons’ blog has turned 20 years old. A fantastic milestone! But, it was this bit that I wanted to comment on:

It‘s tempting to think that The Thing of my career has been NetNewsWire. And that’s kinda true. But the thing I’ve done the longest, love the most, and am most proud of is this blog.

I’ve long held that the most important and impactful thing I’ve made has been my blog. Not helping with 9rules, Viddler, Barley, etc.

The coolest thing about me is my blog.

Manton Reece also commented on this same bit from Brent, adding:

The great thing about a personal blog is that if you stick with it, your blog will very likely span multiple jobs and even major life changes. You don’t need to know where you’re going to be in 20 years to start a blog today and post to it regularly. Writing about the journey — and looking back on the posts later to reflect on where you’ve been — is part of why blogging is still so special.

Being able to look back through my blog’s archives is something I hope I’ll be able to do long into he future.

See also.

Colin Walker on personal blogging

Colin Walker:

Call it an inferiority complex, a belief that my life isn’t interesting as I don’t do that much. But, as Adam says, it’s the ordinary lives, the “random glimpses into humanity” that pique your interest, not just the grand gestures.

My favorite blogs tend to be those that are informal, unedited, and reflect the author’s voice and experiences. Rarely are they those that have grandiose lives or try to make them seem so. I truly adore a personal blog.

Alastair Humphreys on blogging for 18 years

Alastair Humphreys, adventurer, blogger:

I wrote my stories as I cycled around the world and updated my website intermittently whenever I found an internet connection stable enough to send a bunch of text. The screech of dial-up internet and being plunged into darkness by power cuts were regular accompaniments to my early days of blogging. I enjoyed two directly contrasting aspects of writing for the internet: the anonymity of writing for a website with no idea of whether anyone would actually read it, and the slowly burgeoning community of people from all over the world who stumbled upon my words. I remember the excitement of receiving an email from a lady who was reading my stuff from Antarctica. This internet thing is here to stay, I thought to myself, presciently.

Be sure to read his entire post. Subscribe to his blog while you’re at it. I have a feeling he’ll be doing it for a few more decades yet.

Audio: Everyone should have a podcast?

I think it is better said; Everyone should be able to have a podcast.

Links:

Andy Sylvester on making blogging a priority

Andy Sylvester:

The other important part of the habit was making it a priority (I tried writing at lunch before, but ran out of time after web surfing, so I changed the order and – voila – I was able to write!).

Writing first works for Andy. It also works for others like Fred Wilson and Seth Godin. Perhaps it will work for you?

See also: bad reasons not to blog and my blogging tips.

Another bad reason not to blog “I’m not a web developer”

Jamie Tanna, in a post about why everyone should have a web site, and it isn’t that you have to be a web developer:

Having a website and/or blog is not about being a web developer, nor about being a celebrity of sorts, but is about being a citizen of the Web.

Read the entire post for more. Adding this reason to my list of bad reasons not to blog.

/via Jeremy Keith.

Repost: Adam Tinworth on blogging

👉 Adam Tinworth:

In an age where the shortness and speed of content, of hot takes and clickbait, there’s still a role for slower, more considered writing. And that’s why I carry on blogging.

Bad reasons not to blog

There are a lot of bad reasons not to blog. Here are a few of them and why they are bad.

  • Someone already wrote about this. Terrible reason. You didn’t write about it. And the most important component in the equation is you. In over 20 years of blogging I cannot tell you how many topics I’ve covered that have been covered by so many other people yet still the posts helped so many. I have a few blog posts that have hundreds of thousands of page views.
  • I don’t understand this as much as others. Blah blah blah! The best blog posts are those written by people still figuring it out because they are new enough to a topic to cover them in detail. People that know something well tend to skip over important smaller pieces.
  • I’m not a good writer. Join the crowd. The only way to get better at writing is to write.
  • I’m a perfectionist, I would never publish. Publishing is a muscle. If you do it once, and keep doing it over and over, it becomes easier. Perhaps your tendency to get things just right will actually set your blog apart from others.
  • No one would read my blog. Who cares? A personal blog is less written for other people than it is for yourself. This post, as an example, is a reaffirmation of my own opinions to myself. If no one reads this at least I wrote it and it reinvigorates me to continue to blog. In fact, I would recommend not tracking analytics too closely.
  • Blogs are too complicated. Start simple. If you continue to do it, then you can dig in and make things more complex. Sign up to Micro.blog, WordPress.com, or Tumblr where there is zero configuration needed.

Update: See “I’m not a web developer”.

If you have any desire at all to have a blog and have ever thought that any of the above bad reasons should stop you – please reconsider and start blogging.

See also: My blogging tips.