Blog logoMatthew Lang


A 81 post collection

Time to kill the personal website?

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging

Rachel Kaser over at The Next Web certainly thinks so.

Like it or not, social media provides an easy-to-use template that lets anyone make their personal information available — and most of those sites are a hell of a lot easier to use than even the mildest website creation software.

It’s time to kill the personal website by Rachel Kaser for The Next Web

I can certainly see Rachel's point. With all the progress we've made on the web, the days of self-publishing means that you don't need to be tied to a domain or a way of publishing your thoughts online. Social media and blogging platforms make publishing online easy.

Where I disagree though is that while these social media platforms are easy to use, they require an investment of effort in order to be effective. In order to stand out you need to be publishing consistently and that requires investing time and effort in that platform. I'm just not prepared to make that investment in order to build my name when I can use a personal website.

Having my own website means that I'm only investing in the content at my own website and then optionally using social media to get my content out further. I not only control the content but I also having a simpler delivery method for people. I have a place where people can follow me without the pressures of social media timelines. You can visit my website or subscribe to my RSS feed. It might be less convenient than following me on social media, but when you consider that you can read my website in a less crowded environment, away from the timeline, then I think having a personal website is essential if you want people to actually read what you're publishing.

Hello Ghost 1.0

 •  Filed under Posts, Ghost, Blogging

It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here. A couple of weeks ago the first major update to the publishing platform Ghost was released.

I was on holiday at the time so I decided to leave upgrading until I got home. It's been a few days now since I got back but this morning I decided to upgrade the two sites I have running on Ghost, this one and my DigitalBothy website. The upgrade process itself was straight-forward. Warnings were provided to indicate deprecated helpers in the themes for each site, but aside from that I didn't have any trouble upgrading.

The new UI is a welcome change and includes a number of beneficial changes but perhaps the most important change is the editor itself. Gone is the side by side editing and preview panes (although you can still use this if you need to) and instead there's a single pane for writing that is editable and displays your writing in a better format. Bigger, bold text for headings, links highlighted and many other improvements.

This is a welcome update to the publishing platform and I look forward to spending more time writing for my blog than I have done recently.

Open source Medium

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging, Medium

Dave Winer ponders on the possibility of an open source version of the popular blogging platform Medium.

What if Medium had been designed from the start to be the Mother Node of a network of clones. The basic software would be available for installing on your own server, but if you want, there's a place you can put your document today, now, quickly, where everyone will be able to read it, now and for the foreseeable future.

What if Medium were open source by Dave Winder

This is the kind of thing that I can get behind. I like Medium's approach to easy publishing but I dislike the fact that everything is on their network.

Deep vs shallow

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging, Writing, Social Media

It seems that a lot of the things I'm reading online point towards long-form blogging again.

Gregory Brown sums up the change nicely in way I didn't think of.

Instead, I thought about how it might be nice to have a couple hundred blog posts rather than thousands of tweets. How it might be nice to build a few dozen deep relationships with people who read my stuff here, rather than hundreds of shallow relationships in 140 character bursts.

Bye Twitter, Hello Blogging! by Gregory Brown

Deep relationships through blogging. I've already met a number of great people through my blog. It's about time I started writing here again to keep those ties going.

What to look for in a blog

 •  Filed under Posts, Blogging

It's come to my attention that I am hardly the good faring blogging citizen I was a couple of years ago. This is going to change this week with a set of single topics. Today's is what to look for in a blog.
When it comes to looking for other blogs to follow, it can be a bit hit and miss of subscribing to that blog is going to be worth it or not. There are a number of things that you can do though that can increase the success rate of the blogs that you subscribe to or regularly read.

A generalist or a specialist

Blogs tend to fall into one of two types when in comes to content. There’s the specialist who focuses on a single topic and there’s the generalist who post regularly but across a wide range of topics.

The specialists have the inside knowledge on the topic that I like to read about. I like reading blogs of this type as the topics often align with what is going to be of benefit to me.

Take the blog of Curtis McHale from British Columbia.

I have read this blog for a few years now and his blog has been a continual benefit to myself as I traverse the world of freelancing. Curtis McHale's blog is about being a business owner and everything that it entails. This is his specialty but the his field of knowledge on this isn't restricted to what happens during office hours, it also includes the other 18 or so hours of the day when he's not working for clients. This includes balancing family life with running a business, the books you should read as a business owner and the tools and services that can help you as a business owner.

A generalists blogs focuses on a greater range of topics. I find that most blogs I follow of this kind are people’s own personal blogs. They post what interests them.

That’s definitely the case of the blog of Kurt Harden from Ohio.

Here you find a blog that covers not just one topic but links, quotes, and many pictures of what's on the grill that evening. I like this type of scrapbook though and it's worth having a few blogs like this to follow. The reason being is that while Kurt's blog doesn't focus on a particular topic, it does include content that is relevant and interesting. And that's a good thing. I've never met Kurt, but I've read his blog for so long that I've come to understand what makes him tick.

Whether you’re looking for a generalist or a specialist is down to you. If you’re looking to learn about a particular topic then I suggest you look for specialist blogs. For anything else a generalist blog is just fine.

Consistent posting

A consistently published blog is a great blog. It doesn't need to be daily. It doesn't need to be a number posts a day or even a single post a day. As long as that person keeps a schedule going that doesn't involve weeks without a post then it's a blog worth reading.

The single exception to this rule is when the person behind the blog announces a period of time in which they'll be unavailable. Patrick Rhone's blog is essential reading for me, but in March of this year Patrick announced that he would be stepping back from his blog to focus on a project of his own.

We can’t always post regularly and there are times where we need to step back for a bit and they say so on their blog. This is the exception to posting consistently. It's not because you're being lazy, it's because you have something more important to do and that's a good thing. I know that when Patrick comes back he'll have garnered enough new insights for his blog for another year at least.

An RSS feed

An RSS feed is the easiest way to follow a particular blog. Using an RSS reader like Feedbin or Minimal Reader you’ll be able to follow all the blogs you're interested in. Some of you might be thinking that with a blog an RSS feed might be a given these days. Sadly that isn't so. I've noticed a number of websites that have blogs on them but lack an RSS feed to subscribe too.

In this case I would skip over subscribing to a "blog" like this. They've made a decision to not include an RSS feed so that they have more traffic to their blog or they just have a bad CMS that lacks an RSS feed. Regardless of the content that the blog includes I would skip over blogs like this.

Looking for blogs to follow can be a bit of a hit and a miss but if you know the type of blog you want to follow, they're a consistent blogger and they have an RSS feed to subscribe to then you should be onto a winner.

You can even follow this one if you're not already doing so!