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Addicted to the Weblog

Date:  30th May, 2004


I can't hide it any longer. I have to come clean, my friends and family have a right to know.

I have become enslaved to prose. I am a victim of ego. I am a voyeur and a gossip. I have an addiction, I'm a weblog junkie...

I first came across the term "weblog" in February 2000, when Wired published an article documenting the "unprecedented rate" of growth of these "self-published" websites. I had created my first website in 1996 and had been self-publishing ever since, thus I read the article with only a small amount of interest.

References to weblogs began to appear with growing rapidity in the months that followed. As with every other clique, the sub-culture created its own lexicon and words like "blogger", "blog" and the pretentious "blogosphere" began to penetrate my consciousness with ever-increasing frequency. Yet my interest was minimal.

I resisted for three, whole years. Then I began to create this website. I started the Urban Mainframe principally to document my fetish of the time, computer case modding. I realised that a weblog would be an ideal vehicle for me to publish a running commentary or "project log" for my modding efforts and, on the 30th March, 2003, I published the first ever entry in my virgin weblog.

However, I wasn't a very committed blogger, posts were mostly inconsequential with long and frequent barren periods (I published nothing between May - November, 2003). That all changed when I discovered Dunstan's blog during the winter of 2003. Dunstan's inimitable style and humour kept me entranced during those cold, dark nights. I decided to give my blog a second chance and so it was that, on November 3rd, I published the aptly titled "Wanderer Returns" to the rapturous applause and widespread acclaim of a 3-person audience (my parents and best friend).

My newly acquired dedication immediately deserted me and, discounting two trivial ego-posts, I abandoned the blog for several weeks.

The watershed came a few days before Christmas of 2003. We had been quiet at the office in the preceeding weeks and I had been reading Jakob Nielsen's (boo, hiss) and various other websites focussed on design, usability and web standards. I took advantage of the corporate malaise and redesigned this website, creating the "Aqua Template" and taking my first, hesitant steps towards XHTML Transitional. I also documented a few moments of frustration (caused by cross-browser issues) with, "Jakob Nielsen Keeps Me Busy," an article which, apart from being of a completely different style to any of my previous entries, heralded the beginning of regular postings.

The Urban Mainframe effectively changed direction at that moment. Case modding articles were no longer its principal component, the weblog became the focal point. Which brings me to the addiction I referred to earlier... (bet you thought I'd forgotten about that).

There's something strangely compelling about the (cringe) blogosphere. I spend more time working on the Urban Mainframe and reading the blogs of my contemporaries than I do watching television. I spend more time in virtual discussions, with people I've never met, than I do in actual conversation with my parents. I invest countless hours tweaking my templates and CSS files. I write code until I am physically incapable of keeping my eyes open. I even try to give something back to the community from which I take so much.

I am completely hooked on "self-publishing". I enjoy writing for my website and I love getting feedback from my readers. Like many others, I find the "comments" on weblogs extremely engaging and, much to the dismay of webmasters around the world, I'm a link whore - often writing comments just to encourage a few poor souls to click the link that will bring them, kicking and screaming, to the Urban Mainframe.

I am often struck by the bewildering fact that more people visit my weblog than my corporate website. Yet I don't care. Every day I study my access logs, casting a trained eye over countless bar charts, pie charts and tables of statistical data. I watch the hit counters slowly rise, I studiously analyse the trends and then - the big ego trip - I peruse the (devastatingly short) referrers list, clicking links to see what others are saying about my website!

I revel in the knowledge that someone, somewhere, is reading one of my articles - hopefully gaining something worthwhile from the process. I thrill to surges of traffic. I ache when it all goes quiet.

When I'm away from my computer, I find myself thinking about my next article. What will I write about? Will the next article be the one that everyone links to? Or, will it just sit there, ignored by blogdom and quickly sinking into the archives?

Blogging is changing me. Since I began, I've found that my writing skills have improved tremendously (IMHO). I am extending my vocabulary every day. I find my conversational skills have grown considerably too and, surprisingly, I am beginning to be able to argue effectively and convincingly.

Now here I am, at 3am, desperately tired, writing my 92nd weblog entry. Like a strung-out junkie, I am teasing the needle of authorship into a vein, getting high on freedom of expression. I am truly addicted.

And so this article ends. I'm keen to hit the "publish" button now, then I'll rush off to Ping-o-Matic to let the world know that the great DarkBlue has written again! Then I'll cruise the streets of my blogroll one last time before bed...

I'll be back in a few hours for another fix!