Blogging reborn? Maybe for me.

Dave thinks that blogging is coming back. I’m not sure we can resist the strange attractor that is social media.

Case in point is the excursions I’ve made back into twitter to carry on some conversations that started outside. Then the algorithm puts some interesting material in front of me. The next think I know, I’ve posted on Twitter, rather than here. Mark Bernstein could have written a paragraph about the phrase he was interested in and given some interesting context before asking his question. I would have seen it in my RSS feed and written a few paragraphs about how we carried medical info at the bedside before smartphones and always on high speed connections.

Instead, I see Mark ask a question to the room and I answer right there. Let’s not forget that Twitter and Facebook at the start were microblogging platforms. Like our little websites but hosted and widely available without web hosting, technical hurdles, RSS feeds or audience building. The @ and the # were tags and the algorithms did the rest. Conversations were right there in the comments and the network effects did the rest. The attention economy was born and blogging became performance.

Websites became tools for monetization through advertising or promotion. SEO and driving clicks through enticing headlines were how most of this worked and the dedicated information sites kept up as hobbies by enthusiasts gradually faded out, replaced by the monetized, optimized big audience websites. I see podcasts now going the same way.

I’ve tried to write here as a creative outlet. I’ve written some nice content here, I think. I have a first draft of a book based on my work here that will eventually have some public exposure. But the bulk of my effort has been personal, in notebooks or text files. After all, if I’m not going to monetize and not going to work to get the attention, it doesn’t seem to fit the online world the way it did at the turn of the century when blogging communities were born. I don’t need the income and I don’t aspire to be one of the current crop of internet intellectuals. You know who you are, intellectual dark web.

Hence my return to casual blogging. Notes of the day for the web. Images I’ve made. If I’ve found it interesting, maybe others will too. We casual bloggers can have some conversations day to day that, again, others may find interesting enough to join in. I’d prefer not to get too much attention here if I’m really being honest.

But some kind of return to blogging? The net just seems so big and sites so self contained in the search for clicks that its hard for me to see the folks I enjoy now on Twitter going back to daily journaling on the web. Those social media sites, walled off from search are only accessible from within. I’m afraid the walls these gardens of microblogging erected are just too high, too strong at this point. Can a desire for independence pull enough people out?

A principle of Deciding Better is to start with understanding real options. And a little reflection will show that real options are only those next actions available to you. Waiting for some one else to do something or some event to transpire is deciding not to decide. One must start with real available actions. The world will respond and that, in sharp contrast, is not under your control.

So, I’m just seeing what casual blogging feels like now by doing it. Long form, short form? I think I’ll just see what each day brings for now.

First Draft of On Deciding Better Manuscript Complete

I surprised myself this morning by writing what seemed to be the final words in my first draft of the book I call “On Deciding . . . Better: The New Ecology of Mind and Brain”.

This version of the book started with an outline in Google Docs on May 19, 2020 and took about a year to turn into a very rough first draft. As I’ve talked about before, the process of creating what Scribe Writing calls a “vomit draft” got me unstuck from all of my previous attempts.

The manuscript as it stands is pretty close to how I outlined it, which may not surprising given that this is a project I’ve been mulling over for a long time. More than 20 years if you start counting when I starting this blog in late 1999. The central ideas in the book were mostly present in the earliest posts I made here, but I’ve made some progress and had wanted to create something coherent from all of the work.

I’ve struggled with the problem expressing the ideas contained in the book as short posts in a blog. It’s clear that a manuscript provides the space to build the  concepts that can guide a reader through this journey out of simple enlightenment rationality. So I tried to document the journey I’ve made from the rational theories of decision theory to the ways we really make decisions which are based in ecology and evolution.

The book is a bit over 60,000 words which they tel me is a 300 or so page published book. Now comes editing, which I’m guessing will both remove a good bit of text but identify some gaps that need some more material, so net-net this seems about right.

For the edit, I hope I can focus on coherency and finding those gaps so that I can have a manuscript I trust someone could read and understand the general flow and arguments I’m making. It’s only at that point I can imagine anyone else reading it. I’d like to get it into some final form eventually and move on to another long term project to explore this ever facinating area of what it means to be human. It will be fun to get back into an exploratory mode rather than the grind of 250 to 500 words a day, aimed at filling in an outline of what I’ve learned.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the ODB book once its done. At this point I don’t have much interest in all of the book promotion activity that goes along with publishing these days and I doubt a major publisher would be interested in this niche of neuroscientific philosophy book on decision making. On the other hand, I would like it to reach as large an audience as possible, so I guess that means releasing it on some platform or other and doing some promotion.

So on to editing! is back

With the new year comes a return to the original url for the blog. I’ve been running the site as WordPress install at DreamHost for many years now. There’s been a problem or two, but their support has been really good. With the need to run an https site and some reorganization I’ve been doing, I thought it would be better to have them actually manage the site. With it comes their caching and server management which is making page loads much faster.

I just added the redirect this evening, so I’m hoping the readers, RSS, search engines and browsers of the world can continue to find content here with a problem.