One year of blog

Translations: br
Jun 22, 2021

Part of the "One year of blog" series:

  1. One year of blog
  2. Blog customizations

It's been a full year since I started this blog! So I thought I'd take this chance to talk a bit about the blog itself: How it started and my thoughts on it.

Origins

I had already thought a bit about having my own blog. Having a little corner of the internet where I'd be free to talk about stuff I'm interested in sounded really cool. And maybe other people would even find it interesting as well!

But I'm not interested in web development at all, so I just wanted to write my posts without needing to deal with that. That seems to point to ready-to-use site generators like Wordpress, but I didn't like the sound of that as well.

Luckily, there was already a trend of using static site generators. They were fast, simple to use and you could version the source in git and host the site for free using Gitlab/Github! As soon as I learned about them I knew that was what I wanted.

At the time two of my friends had their own blogs already (https://rafaelg.net.br and https://andrealmeid.com) using static site generators and they encouraged me to create one as well. One of them introduced me to pelican, a static blog generator in python and I decided to give it a try.

After choosing a theme and a bit of customization in pelican (which I'll cover in the next post), I was ready to start writing. And that's when I began the blog with the "Creating movie and game lists using Taskwarrior" post, which is funnily personal, while still technical. I like this style πŸ™‚.

So that's how the blog started. Now I want to go a bit further on the principles that guide the blog.

Principles

There are two things I think are very important about the way my blog works: the dual-language and the open diary format.

Dual-language

You might have noticed that all my blog posts have a "translations" field listing one other language. And there's also a button to change languages on the navigation bar. That's because my blog is available in both english and brazillian portuguese. To make this possible I translated the interface to portuguese and, more importantly, write each and every post in both english and portuguese.

The interface was really easy to translate, but needing to write each post effectively twice is a lot of extra work. So why do I do it?

When I was thinking about creating the blog, I faced a dilemma: in which language should I write in?

On one hand, writing in english would make my content widely available, since it is the de facto language of the internet. It would make it possible for example to share a post with a community I contributed to.

On the other hand, I like my mother language. And I'd want to be able to share my posts with people I know personally without an artificial barrier: when both me and the person are more familiar with portuguese, it seems nonsensical to transmit the information in english. I also didn't want to alienate people, from my own country, which don't speak english (even though that is becoming ever rarer).

So I decided to go with both πŸ™‚. Double the work, but none of the downsides and double the upsides. Actually it's not double the work, since the second post is mostly a translation of the other one rather than a completely new post. The fact that I don't post that often (once per month) also helps.

Open diary format

Another thing is the way I approach my posts, and my motivation. Or the answer to the question: There are a gazillion blogs out there already, why would anyone read mine? Is it really worth it to have a blog?

And my answer to that is: Yes it is, because I'm not writing for others.

The main reason I write on my blog is because I want to record the projects I did and stuff I found interesting, so that in the future I can look back to those. So it's basically a diary (although monthly).

But of course if anyone is interested in any subject they're free to check the posts, which makes this more of an open diary. That's very cool if it happens, but I don't count on it. I write for myself, but if others like it that's a very nice bonus πŸ™‚.

This is why I don't tend to do tutorials, and instead document my experience through learning or building something. It has a much more personal take, even though it isn't as easily approachable by others.

(After writing down these two principles I do realize that they're a bit contradictory, but what can I say, it's how I feel. I am human after all πŸ˜›.)

Since I was treating my blog as a diary it made sense to me to try and write with a fixed frequency. I ended up deciding on once a month since that was enough to keep a certain momentum while not as much as to make me stressed over it.

I also ended up making the 20th of the month be my target date. This is only a guideline. I don't force myself to do any of this. If I don't feel like posting this month or can't make it to the 20th, that's okay. But by creating this optional deadline there's a healthy pressure to make me win over any laziness and think if there was anything interesting recently that I want to share (with my future self and with others).

This has worked really well so far. I feel like I've always had something interesting to share, and I did post every single month so far, missing just a couple times the 20th (this one included 😝). By limiting myself to one post a month I also manage to create a backlog of potential posts, even though there's usually something left to do on each of them before they can be posted (I have at least three like this at the moment).

Conclusion

So, in summary, it's been a really nice journey so far. I'm happy to have already accumulated 13 posts (14 with this one) I can look back at and be nostalgic about stuff I built or learnt about, and maybe even get ideas for future projects!

I'm not sure for how long this will keep going, but so far I don't see the end πŸ™‚.

This was it about the "human" side of the blog. In the next post I'll talk about the technical side to it: the customizations I did in the blog over this past year to suit my needs.