Saturday, July 17, 2004

The first month

Well, if I hadn't been so busy flouncing and massaging my wounded pride yesterday, I'd have had more time to appreciate the first part of that post by Ralph at Cliopatria. (I mean, all I could manage of a bit of praise like 'one of the best history blogs' was that it was 'nice'? No wonder Americans take the piss out of us Brits.) After all, this blog has only been in existence for a month.

Yep, one month old today. I've posted on average about twice a day so far - I don't know how long I can keep that up (especially as I have to get some work done on thesis-book revisions over the next few months, and I wish I could drum up more enthusiasm about it), but when you're drudging in the archives every day this makes a really refreshing change. I think it's fair to say that it's settled in nicely anyway. (Hell, there's that word again.)

No question that I'm outgrowing Blogger. There are certain things I want that Blogger doesn't do, especially categories and recent comments. I know, I keep talking about moving. But then I read the instructions for MT and the like and I get scared. I can write HTML (actually, I dislike WYSIWYG editors, and Blogger's just introduced one); I can use FTP after a fashion. But when it comes to Perl, cgi-bin, MySQL, and the rest... eek. And I'm fairly sure I'd need to upgrade my current web hosting to publish it on Early Modern Resources. So perhaps I should try TypePad? It seems to work for lots of people. Any comments from those with experience of the 'Basic' and 'Plus' options would be particularly appreciated. (I'm slightly concerned that these don't come with a full HTML-editing facility on templates, so how flexible is the interface?) Or from people who have installed MT or Wordpress or similar packages on their servers, and how easy it is for those who are only semi-literate in Computerese.

Who's reading this stuff? The numbers aren't large - they spiked yesterday, mostly first-timers, no doubt because of Ralph! - but they are growing little by little. There's a small cohort of returning regulars, even. I wouldn't expect a blog on this subject - even given my digressions from early modernity - to attract large numbers anyway. But, phew, the main thing is that I'm not just talking to myself. What pleases me isn't so much the numbers as the variety in where visitors have come from: the UK, US, Canada, Australia and NZ, Germany, Czech Republic, Japan, Philippines... I was worrying a bit about not getting many comments (am I boring you? is the Blogger system a bit off-putting?), but I read a thread about this at (I think) Crooked Timber recently and was reassured by someone who said that only a tiny minority of readers will ever leave comments anyway.

It's been a great experience regardless of who bothers to look. When it comes to writing, my tendency is towards the interminably slow pursuit of perfection. I can use blogging to practise a different kind of discipline: write now, write faster, stop picking over every semicolon and every nuance of phrase. Get it down, then bloody well leave it alone. Not to be recommended for scholarly articles, but a good exercise for a chronic fusspot like me. And it's fun finding things to write about, and to put my experience of tracking down online material and building up web resources to a new use. Actually, it can generate some personal insights: what bothers me enough to comment on it? What do I care about? And I can look back and see the recurring themes; no huge surprises, but sort of interesting anyway. (I'm reminded of this essay on the construction of personal identity in personal web pages - it's about static pages, but definitely relevant to blogging).

When I set up the blog, I didn't know what to expect. But it's been really great. I was worried that it would swallow my life (even worse than my usual surfing), and perhaps I'm still spending too much time on it. But the initial level of addiction is wearing off. It's no longer the new album that you have to listen to six times a day.

Three will do.


  1. Anonymous4:55 PM

    You should def. look into WordPress ( A breeze to setup and amazingly versatile. My own 4 month old blog ( is outgrowing MT and I have a test site where I played around with WP. I am very impressed.

  2. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Poor Ralph Luker. He's been very nice to me. I didn't read the Cliopatria article before I left my grumpy comment.

    I've got a new blog game. How much can you write about your area in 5 minutes flat with no revisions etc. . ? I'm doing it here It let's me blog and not waste time.


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