Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Short History Of (My) Blogging

Two posts in the last six months - not really the way to build a blog.

I was looking back recently at some of my earliest blog posts from Christmas 2005. Back then the plan was to post weekly, at least, and to link topics of general interest across to questions of faith. Easy for Christmas, of course, but there were also posts about films and music - I even had a post (written by someone else) about a Coronation Street storyline. Back then I was website editor for a church website, and the hope was that such a blog - running in parallel with the church magazine - would attract visitors and interest from a wider range of people than simply those searching for "baptist church in Caversham". Which it did.

Unfortunately, what it didn't attract was posts from other church members - the one linked above was the only one I got. Also, we lost the church magazine: mostly because the new pastor - although, IMO, definitely a good guy - tended to preach very legalistically and obsess about sex, which drove away our magazine editor. So when said pastor - who was also very pro-Israeli - tried to censor the blog for not being sufficiently pro-Israel (the offending article is here), I decided I was getting nowhere and resigned as website editor, so the blog became standalone. You can see my thoughts at the time in the series of three posts from here.

So "Webitorial Ramblings" became "BlackPhi's Website Ramblings", and the posts carried on - still more than weekly, and still based around news, culture, and Caversham life, plus a bit of what was going on in church. A month or two later, a great guy named Jonathan Jones kindly invited me over to Blog City, which (back then) was a blogging community - with interaction and feedback, and real live comments! So I started blogging there in parallel, see here for my first Blog-City post, complete with kindly words from JJ.

Both blogs seemed to have their own readership, and transferring posts between them helped with proof-reading, so I ran them in parallel for more than two years - I can't easily count the number of posts in that time, but I'm sure it was comfortably over weekly. One of the final few posts on my standalone blog was one I found amusing about the dangers of DHMO - a widely used industrial chemical which is reported to cause over 400 deaths a year in the UK alone. Late in 2008 we moved house, and I retired the PC I had been using as a web server, so I decided it was time to retire the standalone blog also.

Blog City continued; during 2009 posts thinned out a bit but remained not too far off the weekly post average (although much more erratic in distribution, eg 7 posts in Sept 2009, 2 in October). Looking back there seem to be a lot of music-themed posts in this period, eg here and here. Posts picked up during 2010, although the feel of them seems heavier to me now, having just reread the earlier 2005/6 ones. Maybe I was just older and wearier, or maybe there wasn't so much to say. Certainly Caversham Baptist Church was becoming more of a drag and a drain, which can't have helped. There were great people there, but as a church it was (IMHO of course) losing the plot.

Then Blog City closed down. We had plenty of notice, but it was still really sad - like an established neighbourhood being demolished. I started up a new blog here on BlogSpot, but it really isn't the same: if there is a BlogSpot community I still haven't managed to tap into it. The first post got several comments, but only from BC friends, otherwise it seems to be only techie posts that get much response here, most notably one on Trusteer Rapport problems.

Posts dropped to fortnightly on average in 2011, slightly better in 2012, then less than monthly in 2013. Post lengths have crept up, and content seems to me to be getting more religious. At the end of 2012 I left Caversham Baptist Church - a painful decision but necessary, I felt. Maybe post frequency has dropped off because I'm not so angry? Or, more likely, because the final few years at CBC left me feeling very jaded and disillusioned - it's one thing to hear about churches which turn away from God, quite another to be in the middle of that. It's especially bewildering to see that the individuals involved remain Godly, whilst the 'church' community loses its direction, and stops following Jesus.

So here I am in 2014, with another post which is too long. I think it's time for another rethink, before I give up on the blog. Maybe it's time to reverse direction: the old theory was to start from the news, culture, Caversham life and seek Jesus there; maybe it is time to try working from the inside out, to start from religion and see if I can find some way to relate that to the real world. It'll certainly be a challenge!

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