In the coming weeks the number of posts on this blog is likely to increase. I’m going to publish short commentaries on and selections of items I find interesting from around the web. The last two posts on the new Tube map and David Byrne’s Perfect Cities are examples of this. These posts will all live in the Fragments category, which will eventually replace both otrops quotes (on Tumblr) and otrops elsewhere (on soup.io).
There are a number of reasons I’m doing this; I’ll go I to three of those reasons here.
Good enough to publish
I tend to over-think most things. Blog posts are no exception. I now have over a dozen drafts that are more or less complete. The problem is, I’ve gone back, restructured and reworded them. In the end I’ve been unsatisfied with one phrase or another and left them until I have time to come back and write the perfect post.
I have a problem with perfection. Wanting to create the perfect thing often prevents me from creating anything. I’m hoping that writing quick fragments is a way of getting into the habit of pushing “Publish.”
I’m not a great writer. The only way I’m going to become a better writer is by writing regularly and letting other people read (and critique) what I write.
I love to read. Whether fiction or non-fiction, online or offline, it is one of the things I enjoy most in life, but I’ve too often been a passive consumer of words. I read a book or an article and it ends there. It sits on my shelf or in my delicious bookmarks and gradually fades from memory.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the books or articles that I remember best are those that I’ve discussed with other people. This could be in a university class, over beer at the pub or online. However it’s done, participating in a conversation makes what I’ve read a richer, more meaningful experience.
By publishing my initial reactions to what I’m reading online, I hope to become a more active consumer of words, sounds and images. In doing so, I hope to take part in a conversation that will make these fragments more interesting and memorable than they would be on their own.
Room to think
I suspect that there are few people reading this post who are thinking, “Why not just use Twitter?” This is exactly what I’ve been doing for the past year: posting very short commentary and a link to items that I find interesting.
This has worked fairly well. Twitter has allowed me to write more and to participate in numerous fascinating conversations. But sometimes — a lot of the time, in fact — 140 characters isn’t enough. I often want to think aloud about something. Twitter provides enough space to say, “Look at this, it’s interesting.” However, if there is more than one reason I find something interesting or if there are a number of related items that I want to tie together, Twitter quickly becomes restrictive.
In short, Twitter is great for pointing at things and talking around things, but it’s not so great for thinking about things. And I want to do more thinking about things.
This doesn’t mean that I’ll be abandoning Twitter. It just means I’ll be using it a little differently from now on.
More on the way
I have other reasons for publishing these fragments: it fits in nicely with my daily routine; it allows me to route around some of Twitter’s other limitations; and I think it’s a better way forward than lifestreaming. I plan on discussing these and other reasons in future blog posts.
Finally, I realize that some of you may not want find this type of blogging overkill. If that’s the case, let me know. I plan on providing a way to read my infrequent, longer posts without being inundated with fragments of what I’m reading online. If you moan loudly enough, I’ll probably fix this sooner than later.