Vision Blogging

At the end of the semester, my schedule will lighten considerably. I will have finished my two-year internship at the church; from then forward, three nights a week will be freed up. School will also be over for a few months, leaving me with a bit more breathing room. Therefore, I want to begin some projects I’ve been putting off for several years.

One of the things I have been considering (and have now decided to do) is to re-engage the online community like I initially did three years ago. To blog more, read and comment more, and start building more of an online presence. I want a large component of my writing to be via blogging; the question becomes, how do I deliver this writing?

If, like I did three years ago, I throw it all into a single page blog with nothing to distinguish one entry from the next save a different title and a time stamp, it becomes very difficult to find anything useful. Last Thursday, I presented on the topic “Publications for Public Relations” at the HELIX conference, and one of my statements was that information needs to be easy to find repeatedly. My old blog structure made it impossible.

As of this summer, I intend to be writing on five distinct topics: Personal updates, technology, religion, writing (poetry, short stories, etc.), and reading (book reviews, things I’ve read recently, interpretations). People who find my blog looking for technology (bsd, linux, hardware) probably aren’t interested in my theological musings, just like friends who are here to read personal updates probably don’t care much about technology. I want to make it possible for me to produce the content I want to produce, while my readers can choose to get only the content they want to read.

When I asked Ryan for suggestions on how to organize and manage all this to make it usable, he suggested that I be like a normal person and don’t write that much. He also asked if I was planning to take over the world, which I assure you I am not. But I do have some goals with this project/experiment I first began three years ago.

  1. To better my writing through practice, and to encourage myself to write regularly.
  2. To build/join a community of writers by reading and commenting on the work of others, creating relationships through our writing and communication.
  3. To share my writing openly, giving it away for free. If I write a book, I want it on the Net for free. If I choose to publish it and make money off it, I want the book to stay on the Internet for free.
  4. As an experiment, I want to see if I can do with writing what webcomic artists do with their art.

When I first started my website, I used WordPress, but it didn’t scale enough to handle all of my writing. Once I had all my poetry, etc. in, the volume was too large and WP became very slow on the back-end. Then, I moved to a split content management system (CMS), with WP for my blog and Mambo to house all my writing. This worked better on the back-end, but they weren’t integrated with each other, they looked and felt very different, and it hurt the cohesiveness of my site. Moreover, I’ve decided now that I want my blog to be on the front page, rather than as a subdomain, so some work needs to be done to that end. Yesterday, I came up with a new vision.

I am going to move to a single installation of WordPress-MU. The MU stands for multiple users, and will allow me to create a “user” for each blog I want. The front page will be my personal updates, with users at subdomains for religion, technology, writing, and reading. This will address the scaling issue, where WP slowed down on the back-end before because there was simply too much content, by splitting the content into separate “users” for easier management. I will use RSS feeds in the right navigation menu to show the most recent three updates on each topic, and the look and feel will be consistent across all five blogs.

I will port my writing over one piece at a time, rather than as a dump like I have before. Content will not be put into the new site until it has been revised. If I decide a piece is not worth revising, it will go into an archive that will be locked away. Moreover, and perhaps the most drastic step, I intend to lock my current LiveJournal and Xanga accounts.

Quite simply, I don’t like my username anymore 😛 SpiritGod21 no longer symbolizes anything about me, so I want it changed. Also, there are things I have written in the last four and a half years of blogging that I’m not particularly proud of. Those blogs will be retained privately for my own archives, but nothing else. However, I am starting new Xanga and LJ accounts. A lot of my readers (specifically of the “personal updates” content) subscribe to me through Xanga and LJ, and I don’t want to take that away. Therefore, each of the five blogs I’ll be hosting will have a corresponding Xanga and LJ account. They will cross-post automatically to those accounts, so people can subscribe and comment through whichever service they prefer to use. I will also join communities via those blogs to make them easier to find, and receive comments via daily email digest so I can keep in touch with people who choose to comment via Xanga or LJ. There are already accounts created to this end:

  1. silverpenpub
  2. silverpenwriter
  3. silverpenreader
  4. silverpenrel
  5. silverpentech

I’m really excited about this, and anxious to get to work on it. I hope to have the site up and running, as well as designed and themed, in two months. After that, I’ll start doing a lot of writing and revising (I’m setting aside at least three nights a week to write), and producing new content (I full intend to write the first draft of a short, theological book this summer). I’m finally going to be able to return to the vision I had three years ago; to start pursuing my passion again, or at least what I consider an ambitious and entertaining hobby. I can’t wait for the semester to end.

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