Sunday, April 29, 2007

On Dreams, Wordpress and Blogger

I see that Neil (Ninglun) has put up a post on the virtues of Wordpress addressed in part at Leagle Eagle and myself.

By the way, Leagle Eagle is yet another Australian who had a relative fight in the First World War. Her post on ANZAC Day provides another perspective from mine and further illustrates some of the complexities.

I am sure that Neil is right about the virtues of Wordpress, but his post also drew out the fact that you cannot put ads on WP unless you have your own server. Now here I have a problem.

My dream in this next stage of my life is to get to the point that I can research and write full time. Yes, I enjoy blogging for its own sake. But the real addiction comes from the interface with my dream.

There is just so much to write about. Not all serious stuff either, although my inclination takes me in that direction.

I enjoy writing. I also enjoy making a contribution, giving people access to information. To do this full time would be wonderful.

This where ads come in as one building block, a source of future income. Here I have a problem.

I know a fair bit about the on-line world. My approach to blogging breaches most of the rules required to make real money. I do not want to change that approach. So I have to find a path that allows me to do what I want while still generating income.

Content is king. There may now be 71 million blogs world wide, but most (and this includes some of the most successful ones) are ephemeral.

I do not mean this as a criticism. Those writing choose, as I do sometimes, to live in the immediate world, to follow questions of immediate interest.

I want to go a different route. I want to build content that people will continue to access because I am saying something that is relevant or at least useful to them.

In some ways this is very egotistical. It is also very difficult because time is so short.

Take, as an example, the brief story I did pointing to some of the web references on the Birpai or Biripi, the Aborigines of New England's Hastings and Manning Valleys. It's not a long post, but it still took several hours to write because of the time involved in checking Google references to try to see what's most relevant.

There are, I suppose, eight or nine main Aboriginal language groups within New England. So to repeat the process for them all I am looking at a minimum of 16-18 hours. Once done, this provides a minimum information base that is useful to those like me with an interest, a base that can then be built on. Of course, this takes more time.

Content management becomes a real issue in all this. I was astonished to discover that across my blogs I have in fact written 731 posts since March of last year. This total includes some repeats, some cross-references, but it's still an enormous total. Get a life, Jim!

No one can remember all this. Here Neil suggested that one feature of Wordpress was its fixed pages that allowed material such as my posts on Australia's indigenous peoples presently spread somewhat awkwardly across blogs to be consolidated.

I have no doubt that this is a useful approach because it makes material more accessible.

Not all the material I have written is worth the paper it is written on, so to speak, but there is some useful stuff. Certainly there is material that I want to access myself, to use again.

At the moment I am running two experiments within the limits set by the blogger format.

On the Ndarala blog I have begun consolidating some of my posts on public administration and public policy into a single series. My thinking here is that once done I can then look at consolidating them into a single document for use in other ways including fixed web pages.

Then on the New England History blog I am experimenting with a Google equivalent of fixed pages, entry pages to topics referenced on the blog's front pages.

Again time is an issue. So far these entry pages really lead nowhere because I have yet to create the backing pages. Here the more time I put into the management of existing content, the less time I have to write new content, the really fun part.

I am not sure quite where I go in all this. Just keep going, I think, and see where the whole thing takes me.

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