Background

Ten years ago, I came up with a web site concept called “Explain.org”. The purpose of the site was two-fold:

  1. to provide useful explanations to complex graphics concepts to interested parties all over the world
  2. serve as a way to help me maintain focus

The site was fairly successful but it was somewhat difficult to maintain, and also lacked a formal channel to encourage immediate participation. I eventually dismantled the site and pursued other goals – while I continued to seek an alternative, and long-term “communication” solution.

In early November 2008, after reading an article in The Atlantic by Andrew Sullivan, entitled “Why I Blog” (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/andrew-sullivan-why-i-blog), I quickly realized that a blog was a possible solution to this need.

One aspect of blogging that intrigues me is the “accountability” component.

In the article, Mr. Sullivan introduces the “blog” concept by referring to the origins of the word “log”. A ship’s log was “.. an indispensable source for recording what actually happened”. A log was used and maintained by ship navigators to provide “… accountability to a ship’s owners and traders” and “… [was] designed to be as immune to faking as possible.”

Even without contributions from readers (which is a major part of the “blog” concept), a blog offers a structured channel for holding oneself accountable.

Another aspect of blogging that is intriguing to me is the manner by which content is updated and shared with others.

In another section of the article Mr. Sullivan mentions Pascal’s Pensees. This document – “.. a series of meandering, short, and incomplete stabs at arguments, observations, insights.” – is one example of many that show “the imperfection of human thought [..] and the humbling, chastening passage of time.”

The underlying organizational concept behind Pascal’s Pensees is perhaps a direct parallel to what I am currently seeking. In contrast to the original Explain.org concept, a blog provides me with the ability to focus on core content vs. struggling with content presentation and organization. It will also allow me to look back over time to review my thought patterns to see how they’ve evolved.

However, I am omitting a key aspect of blogging, which is the direct and immediate feedback from readers.

Mr. Sullivan praises blogs for significantly reducing the publishing “cycle”, but realizes the “tradeoff” when his early blogs resulted in a surprising amount of reader feedback. But that’s the real benefit – sharing ideas, accepting criticism and suggestions, and eventually collaborating with readers. The blog is intended, in my opinion, for growth. Even independent of reader feedback, the process of research, education, brainstorming and communication are components that encourage growth at all levels