I looked at the posts I’d already made on the blog this morning and experienced a familiar sinking feeling, the feeling that I can’t really do blogs the way other people do.
One of the things I find hardest about blogging is deciding what belongs on the blog. When I had a knitting blog, I wanted to write about cooking and fitness and my family and I kept feeling like those weren’t appropriate and I’d feel terribly guilty for diluting the “good” stuff with other information, which created just enough of a barrier to writing that I ended up writing much less. And then I tried having a blog for each topic and I ended up not having any idea how to let my ideas flow, and writer’s block set in and I kinda gave up.
If I look at the blog rings and the lists and people linking to other folks, they’re generally focussed on one topic. If I were to pick an all-encompassing description for what this blog will likely be, it would be something like “The eclectic ramblings of a relatively complicated person.” I might talk about theater, or martial arts, or recipes, or open source, or collaborative software, or perl modules, or being a mom. These things are all things that are important to me, and I’m just as likely to write about any of them.
While I’m sure that there are three or four people who are actually interested in all of the things that I might write about, and I’m similarly aware that I can fuss with Movable Type to create sub-blogs and RSS feeds for each category (which I’ve just done), I would really love to have the ability to create different presentations for the same information, so that people who only want my fabulous recipes aren’t forced to read about perl modules, and so that I can have a different look and feel for each of them. Really different, not just “MT different.”
The company I work at right now (Socialtext) makes software for “enterprise wikis.” You can say what you want about the idea of selling wikis into mongo corporations but I have to say we’ve done some phenomenally cool stuff… one of the things I’m most proud of is the Rest API we created. With this API you can stick things into the wiki or pull things out, and one of the coolest things I did was work with a framework on top of Socialtext to create two different faces for the same content.
There’s a wiki on Socialtext’s community box (you can’t see it because it’s private), but that single workspace drives the site at http://www.perlfoundation.org and also the blog-looking site at http://www.perlfoundation.org/news (which is just about done now). I did a presentation about our API and these websites at YAPC (which was a fairly funny story. This is cool because both of those sites are driven by the same workspace. If I post something to the workspace it shows up in both places. I could have 72 gazillion websites all using the same basic information based on how I tag it, and that’s much more to my liking.
With this technology it would be simple for me to present my various rambly thoughts in multiple different ways (including non-blog-looking ways)… but unfortunately the Socialtext software takes a lot of system to install and I don’t have that available. So I’ll work with Movable Type and make it behave for me so I can pretend I have several different blogs which all just happen to coexist in the same namespace.
I can do a lot of what I want to do with Movable Type, because they’ve got some great functionality already. I’d like to write a plugin to create a Rest API matching the Socialtext API, so that I can have full flexibility to present the information in my blog however I want.
In the meantime, welcome to “The eclectic ramblings of a relatively complicated person.” You can use the RSS feeds or category links to stick with a single category, or you’re welcome to read all my posts and try to figure out what the heck is going on in my wacky head. When I’m not so sleepy I’ll probably get all jiggy with the template language for MT and have different colors or something for each of the different archive types.