Friday, July 17, 2009

One Year Later: Thoughts on the Blogging of Stanford Gibson

There is a great line at the beginning of the Scrubs clip episode. JD gois into his whimsical flashback face and says:

“I know I’d like to forget all of the terrible things that happened to me, but unfortunately I keep replaying them in my head like some clip show from a bad sit com, to lazy to come up with a fresh story line.”

Then the clips begin to fly.

I have to admit, this post feels like that. But I have been blogging for a year now and I figured I’d do a little retrospective. I am trying to evaluate if blogging is something I want to keep doing. So here is my personal evaluation of my first year of blogging.[1]

Lets start with a highlight reel. Here are my top 5 posts of the year. Since I have only started tracking hits recently (as part of the evaluation of if I want to keep blogging) I don’t know which ones have actually been most popular. But these were my 5 favorites[2].

Top 5
1 My Problem With Religion: A Quantitative Analysis[3]
2 What the F#$% is Wrong With Me: The Proto-Christian Anthropology of Linkin Park[4]
3 Briony’s Unsatifying Atonement
4 Would Chuck Love Me?
5 What do Measles, Urban Density and Anal Sex Have in Common?

And these were the 5 most commented on.

Commented 5
11 Comments - Fragments and Links 4
10 Comments - Revenge of the Paste Eaters: Anatomy of an Undecided Voter
9 Comments - My Problem With Religion: A Quantitative Analysis
8 Comments - Monthly Evangelical Metamorphosis into Gnostic Materialists: 8 Thoughts on the Lord’s Supper
7 Comments - How I Stopped Hating Church

You will notice that there is only one post on both lists. That almost certainly means something about my abilities to self evaluate…but I have no idea what.

So here is my analysis and hoped for adjustments from taking a look back at a year of posts:

I posted over 40 times. That is short of my goal of once a week, but more than every two weeks. I am pretty happy with that. I think if I keep blogging, every two weeks is my sustainable pace. But the more interesting/disturbing trend was what I will call ‘post creep’. I have plotted the word counts of my posts with time (including data on the footnote word count) in the plot below.

It appears that over the course of the year, posts have gotten less frequent and longer. I am not happy with that trend. Long posts are tedious to read and quiet blogs are read less. So one corrective I would like to make is to not be afraid of actual blog posts. At this point, almost everything I am putting up here is essay length. I would like to post more 300-1000 word idea entries (my footnotes are currently approaching that on their own). The ‘Fragments’ posts have become bloated. There were at least 2 things in the last one that should have been their own posts.

Anyway, that is my analysis. I’d love feedback on what the 15 to 20 of you that read this blog think.

Here are some posts I have in the works[5]:

Stories the Bible Doesn't Tell: Reading the Bible with Respect to Genre…Highlight Reel Genre
Thoughts on the new mewithoutYou Album (and concert)
Hikes 1-11
Augustine as Comedian
Multiple part series on Christian Music
-What is Christian Music?
-Why does so much of it Suck?
-The KLOVification of Christian Music.
Do Artists Get Better With Time?: The Killers v Simmons
Lessons from a Year of Preaching
The Spiritual Arc of Modest Mouse
A Couple Mediocre Poems
Freedom vs Happiness: Implications for Marriage
Geology of the Eschaton
[1] I’d like to think of it as a cultural artifact post (like one of my posts about TV, music or movies) where my blog is the cultural artifact analyzed. If that seems pathetically self referential, well, it probably is.
[2] They also happen to give a thematic sampling of what I have written about. I do some philosophy, quite a bit of music and film, early church/patristics stuff and the occasional out of left field post that doesn’t really fit a category. The only major topic I seem to write about that didn’t make the top 5 is ecclesiology. I have tried to stay mostly away from politics.
[3] This is also, probably one of my most difficult posts to get through, but I am really proud of it.
[4] Music and film posts did not seem that popular, but I liked them.
[5] I put lists like this up from time to time. You might notice that surprisingly few of the pieces I start make it to the blog. I think that that is mainly because they don’t end up to have enough substance to turn into essays…but there is definitely enough there for a blog post. That is another thing that I want to change.

"You mean why is there silverware in the pancake drawer. Wa Ha" -Turk


David Swanson said...

I find that the longer a blog post is, the more likely I will bookmark it for later. Unfortunately, many of these bookmarks get put off until they seem too dated and never get read. This may be laziness on my part, but I'd vote for slightly more succinct posts. I do hope you'll continue to blog.

Joel Wilcox said...

I don't know you at all (reading your blog through the recommendation of someone who apparently knows your brother), but I appreciate the depth of your blog posts, especially in the twitter age where depth is something to be avoided. I don't mind long posts--I actually prefer them, especially since I write for a living and appreciate good writing (and philosophy, since I minored in the subject). My blog seems to run in a similar vein to yours anyway (minus my habit of writing stories in addition to philosophy). I add another vote for "continue blogging, please."

Joel said...

I love the word count graph, if only because I think if you're going to be self-analytical, you should go all out and try for real analysis. As for length of posts, I don't think you should worry about it as long as the writing is quality, and so far you meet that standard.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stan - Nice analysis. I have noticed the same correlation in my own blogging of length of time between posts and length of post. (consider this a footnote: This correlation is purely anecdotal on my part I haven't mustered the energy to plot a graph on the matter.) Keeping the post length tighter is something I'm striving for too as the CW on blogging seems to say that's best. But from my own experience I tend to read even the long posts of people (such as yourself) that I respect and like to read. Sometimes I just skip reading if the post looks to long, but when I have some extra time on my hands I may read 3 or 4 posts at a time. I think post length truly matters when thinking about "fringe" readers who haven't made up their mind if they really want to invest the time to read the blog. Regulars and good friends will probably read it no matter what. That being said I think I tend to comment more (not just here, but on blogs in general) when the post length is shorter. Perhaps because of time constraints or perhaps because comment-worthy issues are easier to get a handle on. Ok - that's it - thanks for blogging Stanford! Keep it up! BC

stanford said...

Thanks for the feedback gentlemen. It is an honor that you take the (sometimes substantial) time to read this little blog. I appreciate it.