Starting a blog is controversial. I've never received any strange looks from web-savvy people about my Flickr stream or my (old) wikis, but a blog seems to stir up feelings of either fascination or revulsion in people. And, honestly, I understand the feeling. There is far too much information available on the Internet. Even if the signal to noise ratio were one, we would still suffer massive information overload -- email alone has overwhelmed more than a few. Thus the nauseated expressions -- we can't keep up with the constant influx of stimulus we already have, and to feel obliged to read a friend's blathering in the evenings may be more than most can stomach. Blogs, however, by their conventions, can fulfill several useful purposes in the information ecosystem of the Internet, and can do so in a wonderfully intellectually honest way. Specifically, blogs offer an easy way to disperse information and updates, acting at once as a news source, a persistent reference, and a portal to other content.
Initially, I had planned to expand on each of those facets in an initial post, to ground my blog in "blog theory." However, a well intentioned initial "blog entry" became a "short book," and a non-entry is no way to start a blog. Plus, given that it was a first post, I suspect I lack standpoint and credibility to make startling claims about blogging. So, this post simply offers a lay of the land for this space. The other, massive entry will live on, but as series of shorter posts.
This blog exists to exploit the strengths of blogging. You will find blog-post length summaries of project materials and essays, as well as updates on the projects the materials are associated with. Acting as a portal, I will from time-to-time pull together a bunch of links on a topic and offer topic overviews. To get an idea of what's coming up, watch the ma.gnolia stream. Additionally, you will find commentary on writing, programming, aesthetics, and linguistics -- it seemed like the world really needed another blog about programming anyway, right? Finally, I'd like to participate in the blogosphere's conversation, so that's precisely what the blog will do -- respond to other blogs. I know that Jakob Nielsen is now arguing that people like me should not have blogs, but should instead focus on full length content; however, honestly, if people balk at reading blog posts, imagine asking them to read all those use cases I write in my free time.