Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Making a Blog Relevant

In the past few blog entries I have talked about living in the information age, setting priorities, some of the pitfalls regarding the millions of blogs, vlogs, magazines, books, etc., and a little about knowledge and giving good reasons that are of concern to me. I will spend some more time regarding the last two in a blog I will do next week on how I handle various contradictory points of view in controversial areas. This is important in the areas of any type of history, so it is relevant here on this blog. However, in this entry, I want to focus on things I have kept in mind while doing this blog. Whether this is helpful or practical to you is something you will have to decide, but I wanted to just get this out there.

When I started this blog, my intention was to make it fun and deal with things that I consider hobbies. One may think I have many hobbies, but really a lot of what interests me comes down to the same things. I have found that a lot of the stuff I have been into in the past like locations, martial arts, movies, hiking, history, and a few other academic fields to name a few things, are very similar when I start to really examine why I enjoy them. Certain areas cross over into other areas the more I study them.

Most of what I have done so far in this blog is primarily in regards to my location hunting. Even with that, there is usually something related to one of the interest areas I just mentioned in the last paragraph. So, not only am I finding some interesting location, but there is usually something else involved along with it that is still as interesting to me as the location is. I like to integrate different areas of my life like this. I am slowly going into other topics that I have wanted to. These last few blog entries are my indication that I intend to slowly start branching out here and there a little more than I have done in the past. I still will be doing a lot of locations and will continue to do that. I have tons of more videos I am slowly going through to put out on my youtube account; I am actually a bit behind on a bunch of stuff. I think on any blog there is a time where one has to try to branch out when one is ready to do so to avoid just doing the same thing all the time.

My basic approach on this blog from day one, and here is where I start giving my “advice” which you can take for whatever it is worth, is that I do not focus on myself, but on something that exists apart from me. When I was kid I used to start these notebooks where I thought I might have a journal or diary. I would think to myself that I would record what happened during the day or write about something that interested me. Within a few days I would quit because I could not think of anything important to write about myself. The problem was, I was kid without a lot of life experience, but I was starting internally and trying to write about myself.

Now writing about oneself, one’s mental life, is not a bad thing. I think the pitfall that one encounters is that over time everything starts sounding the same. Then, it is just a matter of burnout and quitting. I suspect that there are a lot of people out there that have this problem. I know I have seen it on youtube where some younger people burn out of doing their videos.

My suggestion would be is to start with something external to you. Begin with the “outside world” and not just the contents of your feelings, desires, and thoughts of your inner mind. The focus of this blog is not ME. In fact, most who have read this blog in the past probably know very little about me from it. I do, from time to time, give you my thoughts and opinions on a few things, but this is just a small part of my life. Part of the reason for that is I like to keep a bit a mystery about myself, not that I have anything to really hide about myself or that I am really all that interesting either, but I write and show things that I think are interesting in the real external world.

One of the things that I get slightly annoyed about (pet peeve time) is when someone starts to focus on him or herself rather than the topic or area I enjoy. I encounter this a lot in an area I try to get hiking information on. One of the persons I know of that constantly writes messages about her hiking trips does this very thing. She has gone on a lot of interesting hikes and has posted tons of pictures. It is not a bad thing if done once in a while, but it seems like every hike she goes on or any information she gives there is always a smiling picture of herself showing every accomplishment. There is no problem with people posting pictures of themselves, but in what I am talking about is if someone makes him or herself the focus of everything then something has gone seriously wrong. Sometimes I feel this is more of an indication of mental problems, self-esteem issues, or trying to get approval from others.

The next thing I think of is related to what I just said regarding getting approval from others. My approach has always been that one should write his or her blog with entries that can be appreciated in the long term. I think one should be able to enjoy a blog two days from now, two years from now, twenty years from now, two hundred years from now, etc. In all honestly, I do not write, show pictures, or videos worried about how many people are viewing my stuff every day. It is nice to be recognized with whatever you do, but I like the stuff I do because it is good in and of itself. The nice word is intrinsic. There should be a timeless element to one’s blogs if you want it to be successful in over time. If you truly want more readers over a longer period of time this is the way I would suggest you do it. You will probably last longer than others out there this way, chances are someone will google search you out of nowhere, and you might get more readers this way.

If I want to get inspired to do new blog entries I do not go reading other blog entries, watch youtube videos, or whatever the latest computer or internet invention is. Those might have some interest, but actually going out to explore the real world, reading old paper books (both classic and modern), listening to the radio (both music and talk), and watching old and new movies. This is somewhat related to what I was saying in the past few entries about staying balanced in the life of the real world. Many would like you to think that the internet is the happening place where all knowledge is, but this is not the case. No, google searches do not give us some sort of omniscient access into all information. Do not give up the old ways of information transmission for the new ways because a lot of the new ways of the internet depend on the old.

Finally, in all of this, I do not take myself too seriously. I have made lots of mistakes in how I have done this blog. I have corrected a few recently with, “What I was I thinking when I wrote that way back then?” I try to keep a sense of humor about myself and what I write about. On the other hand, I do want to take the people that read my blog seriously enough that I give the best information possible as I know it. Everyone makes mistakes, but it is important to “not sweat the small stuff” and keep a sense of humility.

Enough of this. In my next entry I will talk about another cool location in the Alabama Hills. Sometime next week I will go into how I deal with different points of view on controversial subjects.