Thursday, August 26, 2004

Sauntering is 1 Year Old

This week is Sauntering’s one year anniversary, and I’ll take this opportunity to share a couple thoughts on what I feel like I’ve learned during this great year:

  • On Writing

    Although regular writing’s therapeutic qualities came as no surprise, I’ve been surprised how quickly my attention has solidified around core topics, politics especially.

    Even though Sauntering’s daily audience rarely reaches double digits, the idea of audience nicely counterbalances the occasionally caustic quality of my unfettered opinion. In my cocktail party discourse, I’ve often closed ears by overstating my case – I hope that exercising some restraint in the written word enables me to similarly temper my real world dialogue.

  • On Visitors: Mark Saul

    Starting mid-January, I signed up for Site Meter – a website usage tracker that keeps general track of what people are looking at on Sauntering and occasionally what they’re searching for when they arrive at Sauntering. (BTW, I don’t password-protect these stats, so you’re welcome to check them out as well by click on the Site Meter icon in the right column or clicking here.)

    By far, the most frequently searched item I’ve ever blogged was my brief comment on September 23, 2003 regarding media coverage of the untimely death of venture capitalist Mark Saul. At the time, I was distressed by how his shocking end was covered in VentureWire, coverage that I considered gossipy at best and mean-spirited at worst. Since September, at least once a week someone has arrived at my website after searching for Mark Saul Sofitel (where he died), Mark Saul Obituary, or some such term.

    I don’t know why people search for Mark in this way, but I’ve imagined why.

    Back in January 2003, my wife’s great-uncle suddenly passed away. As he had recently become an aficionado of all things computer, I googled him to see if his writing or thoughts were online anywhere. I smiled when I saw him asking a few introductory questions on some decidedly techie Linux/BSD bulletin boards. I felt this last image of Uncle Dave was a fitting online remembrance of him – a man excited to learn new things well into life’s twilight.

    I think people google Mark for the same reason. To the extent that any of us has a real world identity out there online – an identity someone can google – each of us might imagine that this identity will be frozen when we die. I feel like those people looking for Mark look for this last image. Sadly, today’s web promises no lasting chronicle of any of our lives – a sad fact that only Brewster Kahle seems interested in remedying. Newspaper web pages come and go, disk space is recycled, the web has no memory. (How about diverting some of the Library of Congress’s budget to so that we can chronicle the web even as it changes before our eyes?)

    I hope that those who care deeply for Mark draw some comfort from knowing that people still think about Mark and that people still ask (via search) about Mark.

  • On Visitors: The Self-Google

    On a lighter note, I’m amused by how much people Google themselves.

    From time-to-time, I mention people’s full names: a photographer’s credit here, an article writer’s name there. Since I almost never mention the same name twice, these references are effectively buried in the search results for these people’s names, appearing on page 30, etc.

    Since would-be searchers are still clicking through on these hard-to-find links, I’ve determined that either these searchers are performing a CIA-level background check on these once-mentioned minor celebrities... or that the minor celebrities themselves are undertaking a bit of a self-investigation, clicking on any link that bears their moniker.

  • In Closing…

    All in all, it’s been a joy.

    In the last year, I’ve convinced a handful of my friends to become bloggers, and they seem to enjoy it as much as I do. Although a few people have indicted this style of writing as nothing more than a daily vanity, I encourage you to consider regular writing.

    From one vantage, the case can be made that regular writing makes you a better writer, even if the only feedback comes from your internal critic. From another vantage, regular writing lets you get those thoughts out there, to see if you think what you think you think and to leave evidence to your family and friends that you’re alive and thinking.


Andy said...

Though Sauntering's birth was in August 2003, today is really my second year blogging aniversary.

Here's my abortive first entry on my abortive first blog.

Man, that looks like 1996.

Anonymous said...

Mark Saul is also the name of a fabbo bagpiper from Australia, who plays funky techno-celtic dance toons! I'd not be surprised if some people get led to your blog after doing a search for him - he toured last summer in Scotland, and apparently is doing another tour this coming summer in Europe!