Friday, January 19, 2007

Because I Promised

Okay, so you might remember that in Tuesday's post, I asked you all some questions about your blogging / blog-reading habits. And in exchange, I promised that I would answer the same questions for you. If you aren't actually interested in my blogging / blog-reading habits, I invite you to skim down to the SaBloBoMo pick of the day. If that also doesn't interest you, come check out tomorrow's post. If none of my posts interest you, why are you here?

On to the answering...

1. How many blogs do you read, and how do you decide what those blogs are going to be? Is it based on content, update schedule, writing style, connection to the blogger, combination of the aforementioned? Do you have tiers of blogs – i.e. some that you read every day, others that you check in with about once a week, others that you read only when you have a lot of time and nothing to do?

Well, let's see. I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I check in daily with around 30 blogs. How did I decide those blogs? Generally by content and writing style. Update schedule doesn't really bother me, because I see when everyone updates on my homepage. If someone goes for a long time without updating, it just means I don't click on his or her link, 'cause I know there's nothing new there. If people update every day, that's fine, because I'm checking in every day anyway. There are some bloggers I initially started reading because they were connected to me or someone close to me, but I realized that if I wasn't interested in at least one of content or writing style, I couldn't handle reading for long. So I pretty much have to be engaged by content, writing style, or both to keep reading.

I do have "tiers" of blogs, so to speak, organized by the tabs on my homepage. First tab is people I actually know and/or consider friends. If I had no time for anything else but a quick glance through, these are the first ones I would take the time to read. Second tab is bloggers I most adore and admire, and generally have been reading for long enough that I know they have staying power (both in their own writing and in holding my interest). Third tab is more recent additions whom I like, but to whom I am not necessarily emotionally attached (yet). Generally I still have enough time that I can check in with them all on a daily basis, but if that changes, third tab is the first to go. (And no, I won't tell you what tab you're on. Don't even ask.)

2. Of these blogs you read, how do you decide when and where to comment? Are there blogs on which you always comment? On which you never comment? On which you comment if you feel particularly compelled by the topic? Do you feel obligated to comment on any blogs? Do you ever shy away from commenting, even if you feel you have something to say?

This has been a tougher one for me lately. I used to almost always comment. Except in cases where I really just couldn't think of anything to say, I would leave some sort of comment. Lately, I've been much more likely to say that unless something jumps immediately to mind as the perfect response to a post, I won't comment. It's just time-consuming, and I have a tendency to feel like my comments don't really make much of a difference most of the time. I'm sure that's not true, though, because I bet most of the bloggers I read like getting comments just like I do, so even if I feel like my comments are stupid, they probably like them anyway.

There are a few blogs where I always comment - Aly's and Sassy's, for example. There are only one or two blogs where I never comment. As I said above, lately I've been commenting only when I'm compelled by the post topic, but I'm hoping to get better about that. I would say that I might feel obligated to comment on some blogs, but they're also generally the blogs I most want to comment on, so I don't really think of it much. And yes, there are blogs on which I don't comment, even when I want to - sometimes because of my relationship with the author, sometimes because I'm just too shy to say anything in that forum. It's rare, though.

3. If you are a blogger yourself, do you link to other blogs, either in your sidebar or in a blogroll somewhere? If not, why not? If so, how do you decide which blogs go in that list? Do you put all blogs you read in there? Do you put your favorite ten in there? Do you put all blogs you ever have read in there? How often do you add people to it? When was the last time it was updated, and what prompted the update?

I do, as you can all see. Up until recently, I generally kept the list as all the blogs I read - the ones on my homepage. There are some blogs I check in with occasionally that are not on the list, and there are some I've recently added that haven't been put on the list yet. I've been wondering lately, though, if maybe I should cut it down a bit. I generally don't add someone to it until I've been reading them for at least a few weeks - maybe 5-10 posts or so - and added them to my homepage. However, I do tend to add anyone I add to my homepage, which is why the list is getting longer and longer. The last time it was updated was with Bryan's blog, and it was prompted by my excitement at the fact that he'd started a new blog.

4. Again, if you’re a blogger, how do you actually blog? Do you draft them directly into the Blogger page, or do you draft them in a word processor first? Do you keep a list of potential posts somewhere for ideas? Do you draft posts and keep them for a rainy day or do you put them up right away? Do you keep stats on past posts? Do you file your past posts anywhere? Do you keep stats on comments? Am I the only truly crazy one among us who does all of this?

I've talked about this a bit before, but for those who don't want to delve into the archives, I'll summarize the current system. First of all, I have a small notebook I keep in my purse at all times, so that when I get an idea, I can write it down. I get ideas in strange places and at strange times, so it's good to have someplace where I can write them down right away.

On my computer, I have a Notepad file of notes on potential posts. They used to be more organized, by length and/or seriousness of post, but now they're all sort of mixed together. Also on that list are all the books I'm doing for SaBloBoMo, so that I can keep track of which ones I've already done (I did this with the shoes for LaBloShoeMo, too). When I'm not sure what to write about, I generally go to my Notepad file and browse around until I find something. Often, I'll see something and be like, "Oh, that's a good idea!" because I'd actually forgotten it until I saw it on the screen. Yes, I have that many ideas that never get posted.

I draft posts in a Word document before they go into Blogger. It's easier to manipulate, and more trustworthy, in my opinion. From there, I paste them into the Blogger post field, and I do all the linking and photo adding there. Once the post is published, I delete it from the Drafts.doc - the Drafts.doc is literally only for temporary storage. After publishing, I update the monthly Word file (so the current one is 1 - January.doc) by copying and pasting the post from the internet to Word. (How bored are you right now?) Word files are organized by month, as I said, but all the monthly files from last year are also in a separate "2006" folder.

In addition to updating the monthly post files, I update my Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet lists each post with

  • Date posted
  • Title of post
  • Length of post (number of screens)
  • Labels for post
  • Number of images
  • Number of comments
  • Summary of post
The spreadsheet has two separate tabs - one for 2006 and one for 2007. On both tabs, the "Comments" column keeps a running total at the bottom, as well as an average of comments per post. To make life a little easier for me, I also have, on the 2007 page, a constantly-updating sum of the 2006 total with the 2007 total, because I'm too lazy to just add those numbers myself.

Incidentally, I also keep my "Blogging Goals" on the spreadsheet (I'm not sure why, that's just where I happened to put them). Yes, I still have some, though getting the Perfect Post was pretty darn grand. I have other grand goals in mind as well.

Oh, and do I draft posts and then save them? These days, I tend to draft all the posts for the week during the weekend. It's the only way I can keep up the daily posting for now. Soon, I'm not even sure I'll be able to do that much, but we'll see. But yes, I do draft posts, get them all ready for publication, and then wait, sometimes for days at a time, before hitting "Publish."

Okay, I'm crazy. I know it. You can all mock me now. Or you can steal my brilliant organizational ideas. Whichever you prefer.


Day 19 of SaBloBoMo: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I'd heard so many great things about this book from so many people, and yet I never read it until I had to teach it. Boy, was I missing out. What a great book. I really enjoyed it, and ever since reading it, I've intended to read some of the other books in the series, but have sadly never gotten around to it. It was a great book for studying persuasive language and manipulation of power relationships, which is a theme rampant throughout literature as a whole. But because the characters are so young, young students are able to relate to it in a way that they can't with a lot of other books with similar themes. Plus, it has exciting moments, and the kids get enthusiastic about fun books (as opposed to the boring memoirs and stuff). It's quick and relatively mindless reading, highly recommended for a lazy weekend.


LaLa said...

Wow. You are very, very organised. You would be a kick-arse Personal Assistant. Having worked in Recruitment I would so be "floating" you out to potential clients.

And of course, I LOVE it when you comment on my blog!

Major Bedhead said...

Are you seriously reading one book a DAY?

I read about 150 blogs, but I rarely get to them daily. You're much more ruthless than I could takes me forever to give up on a blog.

Still Jill B said...

As someone who just skimmed your blogging habits, I'm just checking in after a week of not saying much in response. I appreciate all your thoughts and support, and haven't gotten around to responding to comments, much (I seem to have been busy).
1. The ID photo is so-so, it was the second take. The first one involved me trying not to squint and being surprised in the rush of things, so I was making a weird face. So then I squinted in this one but the picture-taking-girl was getting pretty impatient with me. I figure it's better than my original college ID, but I karmically deserve a less-thrilling photo b/c I've had a couple in-between that were quite reasonable. This could definitely have been worse.

2. The comfort/shoes thing is hard to recover when you're doing a lot of hilly-walking. That pair was particularly uncomfortable. At the store I thought, "these aren't very comfy, but maybe they just need broken-in." There is no way I'm going to break in those shoes. One day (albeit, involving walking all over campus) was enough to make my shoe choices all week pertinent. I'm all about cool and funky and whatever else, and goodness-knows I love me some good heels, but after a day of pain you can't wear 3 inch heels.
*I did just buy two new pairs today, your month'o shoes was a bad influence on my psyche. I thought, "wow, I certainly don't have that many pairs of shoes..." and my thoughts moved on from there.
**Today's shoes were a pair of cowboy boots (a funny story) and a pair of mary jane-esque shoes. I rationalized both, and plan to give away or donate the uncomfy ones in hopes that they will be good for someone else.

And with that, this too-long comment ends.

Amanda said...

Well I love your comments. I miss you when I don't hear from you. For as dark or sad as your own posts can be, you are one of the most giving and supportive people I have met through blogging. And i envy you your organization. I read Archie comics growing up. Betty and Veronica made over this slovenly, overweight classmate and hooked her up with Jughead. Everyone went wild, she looked gorgeous. Then she sneezed and it all came unraveled, permanently. That's how I feel about my attempts to organize...all gone with one little sneeze.

Good on you I say.

(PS I think I am signed in on a blog you don't read...usually I write to you from The Wink.)

Anonymous said...

The end of "Ender's Game" really annoys me. I hate it when sci-fi authors ignore special relativity. Special relativity is one of the most beautiful and unifying principles in physics, and algebra is all that is needed to reveal the most exciting parts.

In particular, consider two events, A and B, that occur such that faster-than-light travel is necessary to go from one event to the other (precisely the situation that holds at the end of the book). The velocity of the reference frame determines whether the observer sees the two events as occurring simultaneously, A occurs before B, or B occurs before A. Quite simply, A cannot affect B and B cannot affect A. Another way to view the matter is that simultaneity is subjective: any two events determined to be simultaneous by an observer moving at some velocity are not simultaneous to observers moving at any other velocity.

Generally, except for the novels of Stanislaw Lem, I cannot read sci-fi, because every time the author ignores special relativity, I pretty much give up on the book. The greatest sci-fi crime is to use general relativity as an important plot element but ignore special relativity (see, e.g., "Gateway").

I think what annoys me is that a sci-fi author has an opportunity to reveal something haunting and beautiful about the universe but chooses instead to use mundane, earth-bound ideas. And teenage readers miss out on a chance to understand and be challenged by something very cool.

Lara said...

lala - i'm VERY organized in some respects and very disorganized in others. finding ways to organize other people though? i would definitely enjoy that. :)

and i LOVE when you comment on mine!

julia - no, no, no. just reviewing a book a day. these are all books i had read before, though. i can barely find time to get through my school reading, let alone novels.

as for my blog-reading ruthlessness, my big problem is that i rarely find the motivation to actually catch up on missed posts. so if i had so many blogs that i couldn't read every post, i'd never be able to read them. i have to keep it manageable enough that i can still read them daily.

jill b - i'm glad to see you back. i appreciate your comments quite a bit. and yay for new shoes! pictures?

amanda - you don't have to explain about the blog difference. i know you sometimes work from other accounts. thank you for the compliments. i think you're a wonderful lady, and i'm glad to have gotten a chance to know you. i appreciate your comments a lot. :)

oh, and don't sneeze. :-P

alfred - um, i think i only sort of understand any of what you just said. physics is really not my strong suit. but i'll take your word for it.

Tandava said...

Glad you liked Ender's Game. You should definitely read Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide (the first two direct sequels). Pretty different, but excellent in their own right.

If you keep adding blogs, you're going to want to graduate to an actual aggregator at some point, rather than sticking all of these on your homepage. I'll shamelessly recommend Google Reader, but there are plenty of others. That's how I deal with ~100 blog feeds (trimmed down from ~180 when I switched from NetNewsWire).