Friday, December 09, 2011

Everything Below This Post Is Kaput

My oldest friend Gwydion asks,

"Do you ever get tired of blogging? If so, how do you reinvigorate yourself?"
I've had this Playground up and running now for almost six years with six posts a week. I am closing in my 2,000th post. I do not want to begin to calculate how much time I've spent on this project with no means of monetizing anything at all connected to it. It is a labor of love. I enjoy the fact that I can be a part of smart and playful conversations with friends from all parts of my life and with some familiar strangers who are a blast to hang out with.

That said, of course, there are times when you get tired. What do I do at those times? I ask for topics from you guys with an auto mechanics to quantum mechanics post... Seriously, though, what keeps me posting are two things. First is a sense of obligation. I've created this community and feel a sense of duty to keep it going, to keep it vibrant. It is an odd thing that a voluntary action on my part has created expectations in people I care about which then gives me a sense of obligation to continue acting. As such, I make sure to do something even when tired.

But, and this is the second part, I've also let go of a sense of ownership, that it is my job alone to keep this place hopping. I used to think of blog posts as little journal articles or op/ed pieces where I needed to construct arguments and defend a position as the basis for the conversation here. But I realized that it would be easier on me and coincidentally more fun for everyone else if I treated the blog more as a classroom where I ask a provocative question and let you folks bat it around instead of weighing in decisively and stepping on the conversation. There are interesting questions, both contextual and perennial, that are easily framed to generate conflicting intuitions. It is often fun to see the ways in which these open questions will take folks who generally disagree on things (say you and Kerry), and bring you together against others with whom you often agree. By moving to a question instead of answer based format, it has made my end less onerous. I keep a running list of those "ooh, that would make a good blog post" questions (right now, I've got 15 on the list ready to go during the several weeks).

It also helps to have some tried and true templates -- what's the difference, why do you know that, bullshit or not -- in my back pocket that I can pull out from time to time and have everyone know the game and how to play. It's funny how many e-mails I get from people who are Playground regulars that include off-topic mentions of this -- "I have a good question, should I hold it for the next time you do auto mechanics to quantum mechanics..."

So, there are strategies that help, but most of all I just keep going because this is a virtual community I care about and would feel bad letting it slip. Maybe it calls for therapy, but the blog is cheaper...