Friday, August 26, 2005

<BODY> Rocking

So here is the inevitable "Why does this page exist?" page. As some of you well know, I have long resisted the pull to start a blog. The reasons for this are manifold. I'd prefer to first answer the question, why do you communicate at all?

Ever since I left Minnesota at age 16, it has been a rewarding struggle to stay in touch with friends. I left behind a small group of close companions, and even though I easily go for years without seeing them I want to keep in touch with what's happening in their lives, and keep them informed about the changes in my own. Phone calls seemed expensive, and I've never really enjoyed that medium anyways. Fortunately, email was becoming cheaply available to suburbanites like us, and I began trading massive missives with them.

As years passed, I left increasing numbers of friends, and the number of communication tools in my arsenal grew. Instant messaging proved effective, giving me the conversational feel of a phone call without the awkwardness. Email, though, remained my most treasured medium. It afforded me the time to construct my words and think of what I wanted to say. As the number of people I emailed grew, however, I noticed an odd behavior of mine. Whenever something profound happened to me, I would describe it in great detail to the very next person I emailed. Nobody else would even know it had occurred. I hate copy-pasting, and I hate repeating myself, so your position in the queue defined the email you would get, not your interests or our relationship.

These weren't necessarily just random thoughts, either. Some people would be unaware of my changes in physical location for months on end; even though we communicated in the interim, I'd already moved by the time I wrote my next email, so they never heard of it until much later.

The obvious solution, of course, was to start a blog. That way I could combine the foreplanning advantages of email with a multicast capability, a one-to-many broadcast of my personal thoughts. A blog isn't inherently private like an email, so I felt none of the guilt I associate with "mass emails" or the CTL-C CTL-V philosophy of composition.

At that time, blogs were getting a lot of buzz, so I naturally resisted it. When it comes to technology, I'm driven by the same genes that make hard-core music fans scoff at Radiohead, saying they're so overrated and overshadow more deserving topics. So my half-hearted alternative was starting my own web site, My previous website was a repository for my downloadable programs and sort of a manifesto of my particular philosophies. The new incarnation was meant as a more personal beast, specifically designed to let others keep abreast of my activities in Kansas City.

Like so many of my projects, after a brief spurt of enthusiasm, it fell by the wayside. My posts were... actually, they were a great deal like these: long and discursive, although generally built around a particular event. Because of the time I was in Kansas City, they were almost uniformly political: meeting Al Franken, going to a John Kerry rally, etc. I also had a phototour of my apartment and the like.

Returning to the original question: why do I have a blog? The reason I'm starting one this month is because I'm motivated by the major changes in my life, the greatest since leaving home for college. The reason I'm starting one this week is because is temporarily out of service; although I have Internet access here, I'm currently behind a NAT and unable to run the webserver. Starting a blog is easier and cheaper than finding third-party hosting. The reason I started one last night was because I was unable to sleep, excited about my furniture arriving today and overstimulated by an ill-advised dose of pre-bedtime caffeine. I have also seen friends and family with blogs, people I know and respect, which makes me feel less like I'm chasing a buzz than that I'm joining a proven community.

A reasonable person would ask, “What makes you think your blog will continue when your web page went for over a year without any updates?” Nothing, really. Frankly I see this experiment ending in one of two ways. In the first, which I term the "Heat Death," an initial flurry of activity proves unsustainable, and this blog becomes one more carcass in the blogosphere, with no activity and no updates. The second outcome is the "Cold Death," where I continue to spout out long and fairly inane posts with great frequency, with the result that nobody bothers to visit because the pearls, if any, are utterly surrounded by muck.

There may be a third alternative, a "Big Crunch" which leads to focused blogging on a particular point, but physicists have yet to confirm this possibility.

That about wraps up the "why" question that prompted this post. Rather than create another one, I'll also address the "Why Blogspot?" question. My friends that I know about are either on blogspot, livejournal or bebo. Bebo has some interesting networking going for it, but I hate opting in to view content and am guessing some of you do as well. Livejournal seems fine, but Blogspot has the Google imprimatur, and now that the tide of public opinion is just starting to shift against them I finally feel like I can openly and proudly embrace this company and its ambitions, in much the same way that I became a devoted R.E.M. fan after "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" and a Terry Gilliam fan after "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." That said, I reserve the right to yank all the content off of this blog if and when is running again.

I hope that this day finds you well. Personally, I am delighted to have my furniture here, in particular my bed. I hope to set up my TV first, and start unpacking with the 49ers game in the background. Peace out!

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