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To Switch a Gear April 24, 2006 – 6:16 p.m. – Permalink

But the brute had its instinct. It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man’s heels, and that made it question eagerly every unwonted movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned fire, and it wanted fire, or else to burrow under the snow and cuddle its warmth away from the air.

JACK LONDON,
“TO BUILD A FIRE”

One thing I have experienced frequently since writing in Seraphic Zephyr for the first time has been the undeniable fact that there is often nothing to write about. No matter how hard I try to find something notable to elaborate upon, there is zilch. Some blogs have overcome this barrier by switching gears, switching topics.

As far as I’ve seen (which is really not very much), blogs are really focused on certain things. Some, such as SlyForum, are very easy to tell. Sam’s blog is focused more on American politics and government. There are others, however, that are a little more difficult. Both Brian’s blog, The Real Caffeine, and Patrick’s blog, Den of Squiggles, contain some very random material (see “Static Is Shoking!” and “German Spam”).

So how do we determine what these blogs are talking about? Well, you can easily tell that both blogs are about Brian’s and Patrick’s lives, and nothing else. I had a conversation with Brian a while back in which he claimed my blog was becoming as boring as reading a high school research paper.

To remedy this, one could reword their blog’s description ever so slightly to reflect changes to an agenda. For example, the descriptions that Brian has for his blog is:

“Hey all, I’m Brian. I’m a Christian and not ashamed of it, and I’m writing a blog about my life.”

Jørgen, meanwhile, has:

“Here you’ll find my thoughts on design, CSS, typography, tech, photography, web design and graphical design.”

Let us now inspect each of those descriptions. Brian focuses more on himself rather than what his blog contains, but it’s pretty explicit what he wants to write about: “ ... I’m writing a blog about my life.” Meanwhile, Jørgen simply lists all of the main topics he discusses in his blog.

I recently decided to take this technique of “switching gears” when convenient to my own blog. The description originally read:

“My rantings about the barbaric nature of the Web and Web standards.”

At first, I meant for the blog to be about the Web and the standards that it should most certainly rely on, but over the last few months it has morphed to another topic — my own life. Many of my faithful readers actually understand a limited portion of what occurs in my life (including the eventful Riesen Hijacking in February).

So what can we change? Well, I decided to revise what I already had and modify it so it much better reflected the general areas my blog covers. Here’s what I went through:

  • “My discussions on the Web, Web standards, and occasionally, my life.”
  • “Discussions meant to explain the Web, standards, and sometimes, life.”
  • “A myriad of articles dedicated to discussing the Web, Web standards, accessibility, and occasionally, life.”

I decided to use the last one, because it fit the word choice of my blog and also represented the four main things I am discussing here now:

  1. The Web
  2. Web standards
  3. Accessibility
  4. Life (usually mine)

You might be wondering why I called this particular article “To Switch a Gear.” It’s an allusion to the story “To Build a Fire” (read it at Lost Face) by Jack London. Sometimes if you can’t strike a simple match (in this case, modify a single facet), then you might die (or have your blog mutilated by a lack of updates).

Sometimes it’s good to realign (Moll) blogs according to the direction they’re taking. I’ve now done that once, and will probably have to do it again in the future.

In other news we are going to nationals!