Reply, Identity, Home


In the olden days of blogging, before there were comments, if someone blogged about something and you wanted to reply publicly, your option was to post something on your own blog.

All of us early bloggers had blogs, so, you know, that made some sense.

Eventually bloggers wanted to be able to have people comment on their posts, so blogging software added the ability to leave a comment. A grand idea! Collect all the comments in one place, attached to the blog post, and you can easily see the discussion. Heck, people could even leave a comment and link back to their own blog with an expanded post on the subject. This was before the days of link spamming and even rel=”nofollow” nonsense.

So as you see in the screenshot of the comment form, it wants your Name and your Email address. This is all good, accountability, identity, etc. There’s also a field for “Website” which made sense, right? All of us early bloggers had blogs.

I think many of us believed that some day everyone would have their own web site.

Having your own web site isn’t the equivalent of owning your own home. I think that used to be part of the “American Dream” if you ever bought into that sort of thing…

People are fine being sharecroppers, and if they want a “home” on the web, huge corporations like Twitter or Facebook are happy to rent them some space. If your landlords are cool, then it should all work out, but if things turn sour, well… Let’s just say it’s nice to have a place to call home.


Twitter vs. Blogging

Blogging in the House!

On Anil’s piece titled If You Didn’t Blog It, It Didn’t Happen, I left the following comment:

Twitter is like going to a restaurant. Blogging is like buying a house.

I thought I should expand on that… and what better place than right here, on my own blog, where I’m allowed to.

As I’ve said before (in fact, I said it just yesterday) there are things I don’t like about Twitter, but my not liking these things, or complaining about them probably isn’t going to change them. That’s OK… I don’t own Twitter, I don’t control Twitter, I just visit Twitter.

Twitter is like going to a restaurant. You can talk to people you know, and people you don’t know. They can talk to you. You can overhear conversations. You’re at the mercy of the management. They can kick you out.

Blogging is like buying a house. It requires maintenance and upkeep. You’re free to do what you want, you can redecorate, or hang some pictures, or ramble on as long as you want. It’s your home, you own it, and you make the rules.

Anyway, that’s how I see it. I’ve had this blog since 1997. I’ve been using Twitter since 2006. I can still get to every single blog post I’ve written here (and so can you) while Twitter only lets me see a portion of the content I’ve put into it. I’ve started archiving as much of it as I can over here… on my own site, because I don’t trust Twitter with my data the way I trust myself with my data.


The RasterWeb! Report for 2010

Back in June 2010 I somehow got a “renewed interest” in blogging here at RasterWeb! What does that mean as far as numbers? It means I blogged a lot more… How much more? Let’s go to the chart…

Posts Per Month for 2010

We started the year slow, having just a few blog posts at the beginning of the year. Since 1997, I’ve always managed to post at least twice per month (if not more.) I’m glad to see I haven’t gone below that number. Our busiest month in 2010 was August with a whopping 42 posts! We tapered off just a bit after that, but that’s fine…we’re still seeing about 20 to 30 posts per month. It’s not just about the numbers though… I’m not consciously trying to write a zillion posts each month, it’s just (hopefully) a reflection of how many ideas I have, or how many things I have to say, or the amount I have to share with the web.

So what have been a few of the more viewed posts this year?

Recursive FTP using wget. I wrote this in 2007 after I had to get some files from a server. It’s a 4 line post. It gets a lot of traffic, probably because it easily and clearly provides a solution to a problem.

Twitter Monkey. The Twitter Monkey post got a lot of traffic… it was posted on Make and Gizmodo, and a whole lot of other places. The video saw over 5,700 views. It’s amazing how a silly idea and a few hours of hacking got so much attention.

Lanyrd. I just happened to write about Lanyrd the day it was launched. Simon Willison commented on the post, and on his own site.

A few other popular posts included: vCard to CSV Converter, SCP and Spaces, Get your Gmail with Perl, and Fix Your InfoLithium Battery.

I also started tagging posts this year, and it looks like I tend to post the most about barcamp.

As always, visit the Archives page for a list of all the posts by month, or the Archives Legacy page for the older posts that haven’t been put into WordPress yet.

Here’s to 2011 and the start of another 13 years of blogging!


The End of Vox

R.I.P. Vox 2006-2010

Vox is closing on September 30, 2010 (via, great subdomain, btw!)

Vox launched in October, 2006 and is closing down less than 4 years later. Plenty of people have been blogging for 5 years or more, so really, 4 years is not a long time. There’s some information on moving your Vox blog to Posterous or (I’d pick, they have a longer track record and I see them lasting longer than Posterous, and they also provide a path to export from to eventually host your own WordPress install. Truth be told though, Posterous is becoming a bit of a powerhouse, so who knows…)

This highlights something I’ve been an advocate of for quite a while, owning your content online, and owning your identity online.

By “owning” I’m referring more to owning the place where your content lives. There are prolific producers on the web nowadays who put everything into other people’s baskets. They post on Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, Blogger, Posterous, and all sorts of other sites… none owned by them. If you started a blog in 2006 on Vox and it grew to something huge, you’d now be in the boat with all the other Vox users looking for a new home.

Moving from one domain to another and maintaining your momentum, making sure people know you’ve moved, and are able to find you can be done, but it’s best done if you have control over the old domain, or at least if you can control the old posts, perhaps pointing people to the new home. When services shut down this may not be possible. I’m not sure yet how Vox will handle this…

I wish all the Vox users good luck in their search for a new home… don’t forget that your own blog on your own domain is always an option.


Follow, Read, Subscribe


In the olden days (before Twitter or Facebook) we had blogs… and that was the “social network” as it were… Bloggers helped popularize the idea of self publishing updates, status, and what not… So here my friends, on this particular Friday, is a list of blogs I’ve read recently. Some I’ve read for years, some I’ve just read recently. Welcome to the new Follow Friday.

Bloggers, I salute you for your independence and willingness to publish under your own terms… keep up the good work! And if you’ve got a blog you think I’d be interested in, leave a comment!

Readers, consider checking in with some of these blogs, and if you like them, leave a comment, or drop the blogger a note… They’ll appreciate it.