Last night I was reading Gavin Leech’s site. In particular I was struck by his page Blogging is dead, long live sites.

He points out that we use the word “blog” for two very different kinds of objects, which he calls “blogs” and “sites”:

Blogs Sites
Written once Continuously updated
Temporary value Lasting value
Self-expression Creative and intellectual output
More like speech More like writing

This is a good example of how we still don’t understand the digital medium, after all these years. Our terminology is confused, reflecting a confusion of values.

The piece ends with an extended exhortation to produce sites, works of lasting value. Doing so is rare, and valuable, and possible. What I’ve been doing in this notebook site is clearly a blog, and I was inspired by the argument – maybe I should switch my approach and do more of the other. It is harder, certainly: requires sustained effort, and sustained interest in the same topics. When it’s done well it looks like magic.

How to start? Maybe to create 3-4 pages, each on a topic that has sustained interest in the past, and then slowly adding thoughts with no pressure to yet make them legible to other people. Clean up the garden as the urge strikes. What would some of mine be?

  • Ethics
  • Evaluating scientific claims
  • Digital life

These feel forced, but you can always change them later.

Another way to start is with past essays: how can you make them more immortal? Each page you create is a commitment to update it in the future, so start small.

A different approach to consider is Andy Matuschak’s working notes.

The irony of this post – a short post about why to write long posts – is hereby noted.