To access your posts while you’re away from the internet (long flights, container ships, developing countries, etc.)
To compose posts with WordPress’ native editing and preview tools, rather than client blogging apps
To speed up the process of editing posts, because the internet where you are is very slow or very costly
Or perhaps some combination of the above…
This is how I managed to keep my blog up to date while I was “on the road” over the last year, even when I didn’t have access to the internet. As long as I had power (which was not always a given), I was able to compose drafts (usually in a text editor), edit photos (in GIMP), and then layout/revise posts (in my local copy of WordPress). When I was ready to publish, and had access to the internet, it was a trivial process of uploading the photos (via SSH), copy-and-pasting the text over, and pressing “Publish”.
In fact I found it so much faster to compose and revise posts locally, that I’ve continued to use this set up even after returning to fast internet connections. Think about how many times you’ve hit that “Save Draft” button and waited for WordPress to “return” so you could reload the post preview tab—and you probably understand what I mean.
The steps I describe are based on my past experience of setting up a local web development environment on my laptop. Of course I ran into a few gotchas along the way, so I documented the process here for future reference. I don’t necessarily recommend this approach for everyone, but I figured it might offer some interesting insight into how I do things.
Skipping ahead to January, I was reading a blog post that included tweet mentions, and lo and behold: there was Jodi. Once again I clicked back to her blog and found out that she had moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the time, Stephanie and I were sketching out our next few months and saw that we might be in northern Thailand sometime in March. So I gave Jodi a heads up.
I have to admit, after 7 months on the road, it was a little surreal to hear people casually tossing around terms like “SEO”, “affiliate marketing”, and “analytics” again. On the other hand, it was super cool to be warmly welcomed into this geeky group, who shared with us their favorite barbecued pork at the Sunday Night Walking Market, invited us out for drinks, and gave us something to look forward to nearly every night of the week.
Bloglines was my first and only feedreader. I’ve been using it for over five years. Until leaving on the trip, it was one of the sites I checked daily—actually multiple times throughout the day: Bloglines, Gmail, Justinsomnia, and repeat. For me it “just worked”. To bad there isn’t some way for Bloglines to exist outside of Ask. Oh well, *kicks stones aimlessly*.
It’s funny to say, but it’s true. The things I blog about tend to be the things I’m most interested in. I love this policy. For one it’s flexible. As my interests change, so goes the blog. For another, it allows for diversity. I can post a photo of a car, followed by something technical, followed by something about cheese, followed by something I cooked, followed by something I did outside, without batting an eye. I frequently look back at what I’ve posted and think to myself, “Damn, this is such a great blog! I love this stuff.”
I would go so far as to say that having this blog has made my life more interesting, because I’m often motivated to do something unusual or kind of wacky by virtue of its inherent blogability. The generally positive feedback I receive in return creates a virtuous circle which leads me to seek out yet more off the beaten path adventures—to blog about.
Many people advise would-be bloggers to focus on a single subject and stick with it. I applaud the people who are able to do this well, and there are some very good, and very lucrative subject-specific blogs out there. But man, forcing me to narrow my focus down beyond just “stuff I like” would be disastrous. I would lose interest.
I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who likes the exact same combination of things as I do, but at the same time there doesn’t have to be even one person with the same taste as mine. That’s not the point. The whole difference between blogging and just keeping a journal is the intent to share. As I see it, the value of Justinsomnia is not only in the individual post, it’s also in the sometimes surprising difference between posts. You might have stumbled upon my blog searching for something technical or food-related, and if you’re tickled by the fact that my interests extend beyond that one thing, hopefully you’ll continue to follow along.
Even though blog writing is closely related to newspaper column writing in function, I actually tend to view Justinsomnia more as an ongoing, interactive art project. Each post is like a small canvas that I can fill with words, photos, code, and occasionally even sound and video. Anyone on the internet can interact with my posts by leaving a comment, which actually changes the very nature of the work, particularly in the “eyes” of the search engines. Over time trends emerge in my posts, not unlike Eric Tabuchi’s Typologies, and it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in the future there aren’t exhibitions dedicated to the blog post as work of art.
When I started Justinsomnia back in the summer of 2002, I setup Blogger to publish to my university webspace via FTP. In the spring of 2005 I started playing with WordPress because that’s what Ruby was using for OrangePolitics. My last post published using Blogger was watching unc beat duke on March 7, 2005. A few days later I posted Say Hello to WordPress, and the rest is history. Sort of. I actually continued using Blogger to publish my “neatlinks” via FTP (which I included dynamically in my blog) until February 12, 2007, when I incorporated them into my WordPress setup.