that's random

Sprightly thoughts: Blogging the Montaigne way

There is no pleasure to me without communication: there is not so much as a sprightly thought comes into my mind that it does not grieve me to have produced alone, and that I have no one to tell it to. – Michel de Montaigne

Ed Techie Martin Weller lists these Montaignesque practices as the foundation of blogging:

  • Honesty
  • Openness
  • Relaxed style
  • An element of the personal
  • Reflective and questioning
  • Playfulness

What a great checklist for how to blog. I’m going to refer back to it whenever I worry about what I’m doing here (“am I doing this right? am I sticking to my niche? am I presenting myself appropriately? am I careful not to reveal too much?”)

Andrew Sullivan on the personal element in blogging:

You end up writing about yourself, since you are a relatively fixed point in this constant interaction with the ideas and facts of the exterior world. And in this sense, the historic form closest to blogs is the diary.

I thought initially when I returned to blogging after an almost two-year hiatus that I’d eliminate my too-human self from the writing, that I’d create a sort of online column about statistics and psychometrics rather than a desultory diary that happens to include a lot of mathematical formulas and data graphs.

Turns out it’s no fun for me to blog if the personal is eliminated. I suppose that’s one reason tech blogging for Web Worker Daily and GigaOM was, in the end, dissatisfying. Another problem with it was how public — sometimes painfully public — those settings often were. I much prefer online obscurity to Internet micro-fame.

On the other hand, a blog shouldn’t be totally personal or it’s just dull. Might as well make it a private diary, in that case. The point (at least for me) is to communicate. I always write thinking someone might read it. To me, a thought is never so sprightly as when it might be shared.