Going Back

Posted by on 21.07.2009 in creativity, education, london, media

I’m still posting more or less daily at Open/Conceptual, focusing on some special interest stuff there, but I haven’t been doing much for BrianFrank.ca lately. It’ll probably stay this way for a while.

Lately I’ve been looking back at where I’ve come from. I actually forgot how non-blog-like my blogging was a little over a year ago. Look at the archives…

When I started in August 2007, it was virtually an accident, and I had no intention of calling myself a blogger; but my one-essay-per-week strategy is what finally generated results from the years I’d spent (most of the mid-00’s) reading and filling notebooks and trying to turn my thinking into something concrete.

Over the next few months I focused on articulating all of those ideas that had been germinating for a long time in my notes and in my head. As I gradually got all that out of the way, a lot of cognitive energy became free for reading and writing about current events. It took a while to get rolling though.

In April 2008 I only managed to write one post — and I remember really having to force myself to do it so there wouldn’t be a gap in the monthly archive.

Then in May and June I tried a different format — one that taught me a lot and I’m still kind of fond of: the main rule was that the whole post had to fit within Blogger’s standard text editing box (i.e. so the scroll bar would never appear); also, no line breaks; and the challenge was to fit as many related links into it as possible.

Give it a try! After a few months it became a lot easier to synthesize different ideas from different sources and to be as brief as possible (not a talent I’m born with).

By July my posts were a lot more timely and blog-like; I was starting to get the hang of it. But I was also getting burned-out. I wasn’t sleeping enough and I spent too much time reading articles on a computer screen, trying to keep up with my favourite news sites, Bookforum, and Google Reader (which I had just started using).

So at the end of July — coinciding with a physical move — I unplugged for one long week to break my habits and figure out what to keep, what I could do without, what I could do more efficiently, etc.

Ironically, I came back in August only to get sucked into the frantic commentary on the conflict between Russia and Georgia… then the US election… then the Canadian election… and the collapsing economy… and more and more and more until I peaked at fifty-six posts in October.

Looking back to last summer, that week of being (almost) offline was a turning point — or at least it’s distinct enough to be used as one in this narrative I’m composing.

It also just so happens that August was when I finally managed to articulate my thoughts about media — past, present, and future…

Here’s a kind of preface I wrote for that:

Last week I was scrolling through Dan Brown’s blog on the London Free Press website, pointing to a critique of London indie media outlets by local designer John Leschinski. One of those things I felt an urgent need to comment on. But in my typical fashion, one thought led to another and my comments about blogging in/about London turned into a longish essay (split into two parts, with most of the meat in the second) about the relations between news and blogging, old and new media, personal lifestreams, identity, technology, and society. I cited the recent  Associated Press study on young adults and intended to discuss citizen journalism, mobile journalism, ScobleO’Reilly on Stewart, as well as this, but I veered in a new direction as I wrote, learning a lot along the way. Totally unexpected was the insight about social fabric that occured to me only 2 nights ago. I’m excited about that and look forward, not just to articulating it more thoroughly, but applying it in practice. I’m trying to move my thinking and writing towards more local, socially relevant topics… My thoughts on blogging in/about/for London are still forthcoming.

I laughed when I read that last sentence. Since then, I’ve written a lot about London and a lot more about media. Maybe too much.

Now, just as I managed to articulate all of the philosophy I needed to articulate in 2007, I suddenly feel like I’ve articulated all that I have to — or all that I can, or all that I care to — about many of the topics I’ve covered.

Now I can move on again — by going back.