|||||Smells Like Teen Spirit||]|
Back in March, over sushi on 6th Street in Austin, Texas, I had a conversation with my friend Eric Case about the sorry state of my once proud weblog. As I explained to Eric, there are varied reasons for my blog's steady decline.
First, there's the "Apple problem." Though I had some initial following as an indie developer, I really came to prominence as that rarest of Silicon Valley specimens: an Apple employee blogger. Unfortunately there's a good reason so few Apple employees write weblogs (or at least Mac-related ones): employee discretion is an important part of Apple culture. I'm not saying this is always a bad thing--particularly after my recent trips to "pro"-oriented trade shows like NAB and NAMM, where hype about unreleased products can make a lot of companies seem downright hucksterish. But it certainly presents a problem for a writer whose principle interest to his readers is as an "insider."
Another contributing factor was my move from Mac OS X QA to an real engineering position on Soundtrack Pro. Back when my days at work were spent on (let's be honest now) less engaging manual testing, internal web app development, or automation scripting, my primary intellectual stimulation still came from my own independent development on PodWorks and Cocoalicious, which in turn fueled my blogging. Now that I spend all day at work hacking away on Cocoa code, my motivation to work on side projects is severely diminished, which means the amount of my coding I can actually write about and the amount of source code I can share has fallen commensurately.
By far the most important factor, though, is that I tend to be a person who structures his life at a given time around a single organizing project, and that project has changed. For several years after college, that project was to get a job at Apple and move to the Bay Area--a goal that drove me to create PodWorks (that's right: despite how well I've done with PodWorks, I actually wrote it to impress Apple--not to make money) and start my weblog. Later, when I was trying to move into a development position, I created Cocoalicious to impress some people within Apple (who ended up rejecting me, but that's another story).
Now that I've finally completed my post-collegiate project by securing an actual engineering role at Apple, and now (it must be said) that I've officially entered my more mature late twenties, my mission statement shifted to a less professional (and, admittedly, infinitely wussier-sounding) one: to get better at developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Because I now spend so much of my extracurricular time trying to understand people rather than machines (a far more difficult task, by the way), I now find that what I'm interested in writing about often falls outside of the "serious" technical/industry focus of my weblog.
After explaining all of this to Eric, his suggestion was that I start a LiveJournal as an outlet for less "serious," more personal writing. I confess that, like many "serious" webloggers, I've always tended to regard LiveJournal as kind of a weird teenage phenomenon akin to MySpace. The stock template designs are, to be charitable, aesthetically naive, a lot of the site's accouterments tend toward the puerile (current mood?).
Slowly but steadily, however, a number of things changed my mind about the site. One of the first was actually meeting Evan Martin (evan), a former LiveJournal engineer and author of the estimable memecached (correction: Brad Fitzpatrick is the author of memecached), while visiting Google. Evan is a serious engineer, and the fact that his level of expertise had been applied so impressively to what I had previously taken to be an unremarkable journaling site made me take it a lot more seriously.
Other "serious" LiveJournal users--including people like Jens Alfke (snej), Fraser Speirs (fraserspeirs), Bill Humphries (whumpdotcom), and Momus (imomus)--helped further disabuse me of the notion that LiveJournal is strictly for teenage girls, and a number of my good friends who decided to ditch their weblogs in favor of LJs only cemented the idea that there was something to the phenomenon.
More than anything else, though, it was Flickr that sold me on the idea of starting a LiveJournal. As anyone who has followed my Flickr photos knows, my Flickr stream has essentially replaced my weblog as my primary online presence, and the reason has a lot to do with the fact that Flickr (with its varying levels of "friendness," access controls, and unified friends photos page) feels more like a real community than the blogosphere. I feel like I've been more successful developing relationships through Flickr than through any other social software I've ever used (remember my current project!), and I've often remarked that I wish they made weblogging software. It's only recently occurred to me that LiveJournal is pretty much that software.
So, then, this rather rambling post is just my way of saying that I plan to add LiveJournal to my online output. I will probably end up following the Jens Alfke model of using my Wordpress weblog to make infrequent announcements or publish essays on weighty topics, while maintaining a LiveJournal for day-to-day musings and juicy friends-only posts. We'll see how it works out...