Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meta: Blog 9

So I set up a Blogger account. I believe this is my 9th attempt at starting a blog. When you put it that way, it seems a bit foolhardy to even do this.
  1. My original, and only fulfilling, blog was on Xanga. I was in high school. To this day I wonder how much the quality of that experience was a result of youth and singleness, and thus unrepeatable.
  2. Second blog was a custom Rails project. I believe I created this to be a programming blog. You had to create an account to comment, and the passwords were stored in plain text. ಠ_ಠ
  3. Next was an off-the-shelf OSS blog. I think it was Rails but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Mephisto. It was that era, though.
  4. Another custom Rails project. This time with hashed passwords.
  5. Around this time I met Brandon Mathis and was a fairly early adopter of his Octopress project, which I now see absolutely everywhere.
  6. A perverse desire to post from iOS led me to migrate to Tumblr. I liked the idea of joining a blog network again, and wrote a post along similar lines to this one. I still mostly wrote about programming.
  7. Early last year I started something new. I made a blog almost completely from scratch using Middleman, and wrote four posts. For the first time since Xanga I didn't write anything technical. I believe the friction of having to do programming-like stuff in order to post anything interfered with my output.
  8. Despite all of my previous failures languishing in obscurity, late last year I tried doubling down on silence. I created a WordPress blog, called it "Fitter Soil", deployed it to Heroku, and told almost no one about it. In terms of writing output, this was by far the most successful. However, having it separate from my normal online identity was uncomfortable, and I attribute my eventual loss of motivation to this issue.
So what I've done now is unify the content of the last two attempts, along with some of my (embarrassingly short) book reviews from Goodreads. The posts from the two blogs tend to either be about technology (with a Christian slant) or theology (with a nerdy slant). My idea right now is that these two topics, with books as a third (hence the reviews), give the general shape of what I want to write about. In particular, I want to migrate my online social interactions away from being focused primarily on software development.

My goal is to have meaningful and delightful conversations. I have found this here and there on Twitter (and briefly but I have not found the enforced brevity or the firehose dynamics to be conducive to the sorts of interactions I desire. I hope that I will be able to attract some old friends to interact here, and that I will discover new people who have similar interests. Secondarily, I have always wanted to blog in order to have motivation to write, both because I enjoy it when I find reason to do it, and because I want to get better at it.

I chose Blogger ultimately because it is pretty old-school in a way that pleases me. (Hosted WordPress would be a similar option, but I didn't look into it.) I like that I have web interface to write posts in. I like that it is kind of a network, although I don't know whether that will benefit me or not (I still trust mainly in RSS). It seems to be more oriented toward writing than the reposting of memes, and toward social interaction rather than publishing and self-promotion. I had written off Blogger in the past because it was looking rather dated, but given my current interests and proclivities, that datedness may be exactly what I need (Google Plus integration notwithstanding).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: The Willows

Like everyone else, I read this because H.P. Lovecraft praised it so highly. The theme is very much in the vein of Lovecraft, and the supernatural elements are treated very lightly, as is the case in the above-average Lovecraft stories. The Willows is a well-crafted tale, and given this single data point, I have to say that Blackwood is by far the better stylist.

Overall, I think weird fiction is not quite my thing. It comes close at times, but I much prefer Dracula, or the novels of Charles Williams. Worldview seems to play a big part in what we find frightening, or compellingly numinous.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review: Fools Rush In (Where Monkeys Fear to Tread)

A nice collection of essays, although I believe I had read a few of this online before. They are also all about 7 or 8 years old, and while they are not entirely temporally bound, a number of them do address contemporary issues that have progressed in the interim. For instance, I have followed Trueman's ongoing criticism of evangelical celebrity culture for several years. In this book, I find that he was saying substantially similar things a few years before that, just with fewer high-profile scandals to make reference to.

The best part of the book in my opinion were the 3 essays on Rome, offering reflections from a visit to the Vatican, as well as an even-handed Protestant account of the disagreements that continue to separate evangelicals and Roman Catholics.