Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Place Called Blogsville (Epilogue)

Urban Renewal?
I was a year and a half behind the onset of Twitter before becoming truly involved with it in July of 2008, subsequently becoming a daily user some four months later.

In so doing, I also succumbed to the urge to join the masses of info-oriented, ‘useful’ bloggers out there whose content was shiny, new, ‘social media savvy’ and would draw advertisers to my site so that I could ‘monetize’ and make my blog an actual, viable income-producer. I mean look around — that’s the way it’s done these days.

My initial push to accomplish this was a complete flop. At the end of 2008, still buzzing from my newly acquired Twitter-inspired game plan, I mapped it all out, worked on a new template for weeks; I even wrote a few re-introductory posts for those outside the Neighborhood. I went so far even as to announce the 'rebirth of my blog, both in a post that was soon thereafter pulled, and on Twitter, only to back out when I realized I really didn't know what the hell I was doing it for.

Then the recession smacked me in the chops, big time. Right after the Holidays, The Company I worked for announced what would be the first of two workforce reductions in 2009. I was spared from the first one that came down in January, and then fully engaged myself in the subsequent yearlong scramble to try and save my ass from the second, later that November. On the second count I was obviously unsuccessful.

Now a year later and a half later, with nothing left to lose, I’m ready to try again and see just how good this blog can be.

As far as monetization goes, I’ve recently made a few small in-roads in that regard, but have vowed to myself to do it right. Fortunately I’ve become involved with a wonderful new organization of folks who are dedicated to teaching blog marketing techniques that are effective without being obnoxious. It’s called The Third Tribe and if you’re curious you can check them out here or anytime from the Third Tribe badge located in the blog’s right-hand sidebar. It’s pretty cool stuff, really, especially for someone like me who has always been repulsed by traditional Internet marketing methods.

But even if I do end up going with a few affiliate links here and there, there’s no way it will ever become my main focus — that’s not what AYBABTU has ever been about. Like I said earlier, I have struggled mightily with the idea of making my blog a more topically-based destination, and will always seek to exercise brevity in any way I can, but not at the expense of being who I am.

I do realize that my long-windedness can be a handicap to gaining and keeping new readers. But then I always have to return to the Hamletian maxim of, “to thine ownself be true.”

I can publicize this blog. I can monetize this blog. If the readers come, they come; if they stay, they stay. However I cannot be someone I am not, nor can I write like someone I am not — well, I probably could, but why? To what end?

I do consider this the start of a renewal of sorts, but I’ll just have to take it day by day and see what the future brings. I hope you’ll feel inclined to tag along.

But Just For Fun…
As I write this, it has now been exactly 30 days since the opening segment of this series was posted — not that taking a month to write five posts is such a rarity me, but this time it had a lot more to do with contemplation than procrastination.

Part of what has taken me so long to get back to this series has been in deciding how to end it (which is what I should have done before I even began the thing...but I digress...again). It took awhile for me to resolve the issues surrounding that which drove me to write it in the first place.

But I think I’ve got it now.

You see, this was more than simply a trip down memory lane. I’ve come up with a much more practical application for this piece — if I can manage to pull it off.

I’m getting the band back together.

I’ve recently spoken to a couple of my ol’ Blogsville neighbors on the phone, and it was absolutely fabulous. These two, I hadn’t had any significant communication with — quite literally — for years. Like many others, they’ve been around, just not out on the front lines like they were years ago. Some of my other former neighbors have become active on Facebook in recent years, a few more on Twitter; some have even remained active in their original blogs, although often with a largely different readership and/or social group than before.

As for my hesitation in wrapping up the series, I really didn’t like the direction it was going when I first began writing it. It was becoming a decidedly negative lamentation of my life over the past 3-4 years, which while true, was certainly not of a hue that I wanted to paint what was always intended to be a celebration of Blogsville — a somewhat melancholy celebration to be sure — but a celebration all the same.

I may use the 1100+ words I’ve now deleted from this post at another time, in a more suitable context. But for now, I’d much rather turn that frown upside down and end this thing on a positive note. But whether it indeed ends up being positive will ultimately be determined by you.

When remarking earlier about ‘TJ’s Place’ I noted that one of the things I miss the most about our old neighborhood were the comment sessions; that was where the community was generated. I would absolutely love it if we could all come together again — even if just this once — and experience a ‘comments party’ like we did in the old days.

My dear friends, LucidKim and Restless Angel have already chimed in. I’m hoping (provided all the old email addresses I have for everyone still work) to alert a number of our other former Blogsville neighbors as to this series’ existence and invite them back to comment as well.

But to make it really special, I would request that each of you who chooses to say hello, will take the time to spin together a few sentences, telling us all of what you’ve been up to, and hopefully, an email address or other contact information, blog or Twitter username, so that we might have an opportunity to continue the conversation elsewhere down the line.

I know it’s kinda nervy of me to expect that anyone would even want to do this, but geeze louise, you guys, do you not realize what a wonderful thing we all had together? It could be that way again, at least for a little while.

I hope you know how much affection I still hold for you all, and how happy it would make me to hear from you again.

So then, Mike? Lovisa? Jack? El Sid? Inanna? ESC? Esther? CCC? Queenie? Gooch? Jennifer? Kenju? Leese? NoMilk? Aimee? Victoria? Melinama? Anyone-else-I-can’t-think-of-off-the-top-of-my-head-right-now?

Whadaya say?

And to those of you whom I may be forgetting, as well as those who only know me from Twitter or elsewhere, thank you for being here too! Please say hello and join in the fun!

Lastly, but not leastly…
As if this series hasn’t taken enough twists and turns, there’s still one more.

As often happens to me, when I begin writing, sometimes things end up growing and expanding and going off in different directions than those in which I first intended.

What was originally supposed to be a few paragraphs in the series prologue sorta took off and assumed a life of its own shortly after I began writing. I let the idea play out, circled back and decided to include what had become two full posts as an addendum instead. What began as the historical backbone for the series, turned into a standalone biographical sketch of Pyra Labs, the original creators of

It’s a separate story unto itself, but it still works within the context of the series. It’s a look back on the history of from its pre-Google inception, which is actually when I first became involved with the service as a member of a multi-author blog group of online friends. We used ‘The Blog,’ for a lack of a better term, as a message board.

Back then I didn’t have a clue as to whom Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan were, and neither did much of the web world. But as the co-founders of Blogger — the one that started it all — it certainly does now.

In recent years, Williams has continued to push the envelope with his ‘other’ little social media project, along with Biz Stone, called Twitter.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this account of a great moment in web history as much as I did in researching and writing it.

Next: Addendum (Part I): Ev and Meg’s Excellent Adventure
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