I’ve been blogging since the mid-aughts. When it started, it seemed like I was a late adopter. Then it seemed like blogging died. Now, with exodus from Twitter, some people are looking at blogging again. It’s been here the whole time, man.
Last year, I wrote 12,701 words across 35 posts. Eye-balling the graph, a best-line fit has me writing zero words when I die of old age.
Today I discovered Midjourney, an AI image generator that’s rather more high-powered than other free ones which I’ve tried. Riffing on prompts by other users, I had it generate a Frank frazetta painting of a wombat newscaster. The result was pleasant enough that I’ve adopted it— for now— as the blog header.
For a while I had the minimal goal of writing at least one post every month, but I’ve failed at that for a couple of years now. The new goal is just to blog at least every once in a while, so that it doesn’t become moribund.
Last year I wrote 43 entries that totaled to over 15K words. As you can see below, that’s middling output. I have the sense that I wrote more about teaching this year than in previous years, because the shift on-line forced me to be more reflective about pedagogy.
I’ve formulated and not written several blog posts about life in the time of Covid-19.
Last week was Spring Break, which meant that events didn’t quite register the way they would have done any other week. Being at home and not seeing students would have happened anyway. Now classes have resumed, such as they are.
My minimal goal with this blog is to post something every month. I surpassed that in 2018, writing 46 entries which comprised over 16K words.
How does this compare to previous years?
The graph below summarizes the results. 2018 was a solidly middling year for blogging. Not the best, but not the worst either.
The curviness of the lines in the graph is just whatever meaningless smoothing Excel does by default.
At Footnotes on Epicycles, my old blog, I counted years from one blog anniversary to the next. I started the blog on October 4, 2005, so I counted words from one October 4 to the next. In the graph, numbers before 2015 are nudged to the nearest calendar year.
With 2015, I switched to counting by calendar years. So 2015 was worse than it looks in the graph, because I’ve added late 2014 and 2015 together to cover the gap.
B. Wombats poop cubes. There’s a recent study that’s been discussed widely on the internet about the mechanism by which they do this.
C. When I picked it as my Twitter handle, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to draw a wombat. The shaggy wombat sketch was my only successful attempt for the longest time. My attempts would end up looking like a bear, a monkey, or (sometimes) a pig.
After much practice, I’ve gotten a bit better. So today I updated the header graphic.
When I started News For Wombats, I expected to be writing slightly different stuff than I did at Footnotes on Epicycles (my old blog).
I thought I’d post about politics, but I haven’t.
The present scene is alternately too depressing and too crazy. One example of a post that almost happened: I was struck, in the aftermath of Charlottesville, that the New York Times could could still whinge about Trump’s “moral standing as president.”1 I mulled it over a bit before posting, Trump doubled down on deferring to racism, and then the Time’s understatement seemed hardly worth mentioning.
I thought I’d write more capsule reviews, but I haven’t.
For example, the Netflix show Iron Fist is almost unwatchable. I ultimately soldiered through so that I could pick up the continuity of the Defenders. The biggest problem with Iron Fist is that the action scenes are terrible. I don’t just mean that the martial arts are technically poor (which they are) but also that they fail narratively. I am fine with fight scenes in old Star Trek episodes: Kirk takes out aliens with hammy rabbit punches, but it comes across that he’s supposed to be pretty good at punching. Silly fight choreography aside, the narrative is clear. In Iron Fist, Mister Fist is thrown around by even mook-level bad guys. The show doesn’t let me the viewer know that he’s supposed to actually be good at this.2
I find that I’m more productive when I’m blogging regularly, although the causal connection is unclear. Maybe I blog more because the stars are aligned properly for me to be productive. I think that at least sometimes, though, the act of working out my ideas in a blog gets me thinking in productive ways.
Several times recently, I’ve thought of things that I wanted to blog about while walking around but didn’t write about them when I got home. Again, the causation is unclear. One factor, though, is that my old blog is running on archaic, unsupported software. Another is that nobody comments there any more. Most discussion seems to have moved over onto Facebook, but Facebook is no substitute for blogging. Although there may be more attention and comment on a post when it happens, the post gets buried. Instead of crystallizing a moment of thought, the post and the whole conversation around it are impossible to find a month later (unless Facebook’s cryptic algorithm promotes it to the top).
Last year, I set up a WordPress blog to ameliorate these problems. I never really moved over to it, but today I finally sorted out a plug-in which should post to Facebook when I post at the blog. This very post is a test of it.
It’s been over a year since I disabled the blog-like news box on my home page. Sometimes I want to post something that’s not about philosophy or games, though, so I’ve finally gotten around to starting a blog.