ezyang’s blog

the arc of software bends towards understanding

Iron Blogger

This social experiment has already hit number four Google spot for "Iron Blogger," and there's no reason it shouldn't rise any higher. Iron Blogger is an experiment in beer (well, not quite for me), blogging, and peer pressure.

Since we're on the topic of blogging, and why people (including myself) can't seem to do it, we might as well look over the aborted attempts at blogging that I've had over the years.

The very first blog I made was done when Blogger was still a shiny new service, and blogs were just hitting mainstream in 2004. The blog was named Library of Murmurs and in its initial incarnation was very much ramblings of a crackpot. Bad puns abounded. It was the era of "The Writing Pot." I think during this time period was dying for feedback and communication, and when a semi-regular posting schedule failed to elicit any comments, the blog fell into disrepair.

In 2007, I repurposed the blog into an HTML Purifier development log, in hopes that the many users of HTML Purifier might find an insight into its development process of interest. Those were the heady days of architecture astronauts, of writing Java in PHP and the proliferation of design patterns. I also occasionally wrote bad poetry. Once again, a lack of feedback and response made the blog fall into disrepair. Also, I had learned to absolutely hate Blogger's interface and total incompetence at line-breaking HTML.

Over summer 2009, I had charted for myself the ambitious goal of writing a substantial blog post every week; each post would have been meticulously written and revised, content would be king, and as an MIT student, surely I had something to say that the world would care about. The opening post was to be thus:

To write is to articulate.

It is to coalesce what has been in the periphery of your mental vision to the structure of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters. It is to lock down the meaning of what you want to say, and yet open up the possibilities of what you could say, but haven't said yet.

So, do not think of this as a web log, for if it was a log the captain would regularly go back to the ledgers and rewrite the scritch scratch of history to make it pretty. Think of it as a collection of essays, each an encapsulation of something I wanted to say.

But the plan was derailed by the fact that it's really hard to write essays, it's not actually quite an appropriate medium for blogs (if you are writing an expository piece, you would very much like to keep it up to date), and WordPress code is, quite frankly, kind of horrifying.

Iron Blogger, more than a "threat" of financial burden due to lameness, is helpful because it is an observation function: it cannot work unless someone is at least vaguely paying attention to your blog. And thus I am proud to embark upon this grand experiment. Let the lameness begin!