// Internet Duct Tape

What I learned in my first year of blogging

Posted in Statistics and Navel Gazing, Technology by engtech on May 08, 2007

It’s hard to believe, but the blog is already one year old. It started as a lark, a way of reputation management, but it grew into something very different. Milestones are always a good time for reflection, so it is time for some more navel gazing.

Why I Blog

I’ve been hit up a few times with that “why do I blog” meme, and the answer for me has always been learning. I’m breadth oriented instead of depth oriented, and that means I like to know a little about a lot of things (at least when it comes to technology). According to William Glasser we learn 70% of what we discuss with others and 95% of what we teach to someone else. This blog gives me an avenue to digest my learning and regurgitate it all over the Internet, which is much more pleasant than it sounds.

While writing //engtech I’ve been learning and developing many skills:

  • Technical writing
  • Programming for an audience other than engineers
  • Creating GUI user interfaces for the first time
  • CSS Design
  • RSS/XML creation and manipulation
  • Marketing, advertising, branding and promotion
  • Search engine optimization

Two key things I learned over time were to avoid the echo chamber and stop repeating news stories with a slight spin, and to write new content instead of always linking to other people and blockquoting. Being able to link to other people is the greatest strength of the Internet, but if that is all I want to do then there are better tools than a WordPress blog (like StumbleUpon or Tumblr).

The Results

  • Over a million page views
  • High of 62,000 page views in a single day
  • One of the top 1700 most linked blogs (out of 15 million active blogs)
  • One third of the way to the Technorati Top 100 (not that I’ll ever reach it)
  • On the front page of Digg six times
  • On the front page of Reddit three times
  • On the front page of Slashdot two times
  • On the front page of Lifehacker three times
  • And about 10 lbs of weight gain.

Software Created

None of these programs are groundbreaking or notable, but I think it’s cool that blogging acts as a springboard for creating small utilities and exercising my programming skills in new directions. It also forces me to write user documentation for real people of different knowledge levels instead of the tech types I usually deal with.

The Future

One of the dangers of having some small success with blogging (or any activity) is letting it go to your head. I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and I honestly don’t know that I would have gone this far with //engtech if there wasn’t the ego validation of seeing that “hey, people are reading what I write.” Searching for that validation can be self-defeating and lead to a dilution of ideas as you try to look for mass appeal. The goal is to write and created something that some people will love and other people will hate; aiming for the middle ground of mild contentment always leads to something forgettable.

What will the second year of //engtech look like? I plan to blog less, but when I do write something it will be of better content. I like how I do my “links of the week” as a single post on Saturday to keep the signal to noise ratio low. I will focus on better titles, telling stories and covering the four different kinds of learning. I will write more software, how-to guides, and book reviews as I read to learn.

Site Improvements

I’ve set it up so the front page of the blog is the latest post only (at least in Firefox). I’ve also nuked the MyBlogLog and WhosAmungUs sidebar widgets to further reduce clutter. Archive/summary pages all show twenty items at a time, and I’ve even put the dates back on them.

The default wordpress search kind of sucks for honing in on specific posts, so I’ve replaced it with a Google custom search engine. It will specifically skip over my “best of feeds” link posts.

search-engtech.png

Next step will be to align the categories in the sidebar to be more representative to what I really write about (not what I wrote about eight months ago).

One thing that has been noticeably absent from my blog is a tagline, or a mission statement. It is a sign of my own inability to focus. That is something I want to fix for year two.

What should my tagline be?

  • Helping you solve your problems with technology
  • blogging / programming / technology / lifehacks / career tips
  • I came here to write code and chew bubblegum, but I’m all out of bubblegum
  • dirty hacks and tech tricks
  • a nerd and his blog
  • duct tape for the internet
  • coder, blogger, geek
  • Hack the planet!
  • On the Internet no one knows you’re really a cat
  • On the Internet no one knows you’re not wearing pants (but they suspect…)
  • I can has techburger?
  • a blog about blogging and recursion
  • making things more complicated in order to sound smarter
  • high tech litterbox
  • the carne asada super burrito of tech cat blogs
  • I love technology, but not as much as you love me, but I still love technology

If you have any ideas for a good tagline then I’d love to see them in the comments.

45 Responses

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  1. Webomatica said, on May 08, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Ha, ha, great recap. Especially the cold hard truth of the 10 pound weight gain.

    As for the tag line for SEO reasons I like the straight up blogging / programming / technology / lifehacks / career tips although I’m certainly like the carne asada super burrito of tech cat blogs. That sounds familiar. :)

  2. tt said, on May 08, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Happy Blog Anniversary engtech. Having you in this community has been terrific. As for a tagline I vote for:
    blogging / programming / technology / lifehacks / career tips

  3. defrostindoors said, on May 08, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Happy bloggiversary! I truly believe that you are one of the blogging world’s greatest assets and that we (and wordpress) are lucky to have you.

    I’m partial to the duct tape and/or techburger tag lines, though they aren’t as descriptive as they could be and don’t really indicate how much you have to offer your readers.

  4. engtech said, on May 08, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Thanks for the kind words folks.

  5. judyb12 said, on May 08, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    i like the duct tape tag line. I think you should have a tag line that reflects your sense of humor, since the blog title is a little impersonal. Throw SEO to the wind (at least a little) :)

    Congrats on the anniversary

  6. engtech said, on May 08, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    I’ve come up with a good compromise I think.

    The title tag of every post says “//engtech – internet duct tape”, while the title bar looks more SEO-ish.

  7. engtech said, on May 08, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Now all I have to do is organize my categories to realign with my new goals.

  8. Josh said, on May 09, 2007 at 2:09 am

    Hmmm…i rather like this idea for a tagline: “what else do you expect?”…

  9. renalfailure said, on May 09, 2007 at 2:42 am

    engtech – “For when the metal ones come for you… and they will.”

  10. Chris Winfield said, on May 09, 2007 at 3:17 am

    Congrats on 1 year and the recap was terrific…

    How about something directly related to your 1st year? ’10 extra lbs of internet duct tape’ ;)

    Looking forward to many more years of engtech…

  11. sulz said, on May 09, 2007 at 3:51 am

    i still like ‘a nerd and his blog’ though it may be a little too simple. the cat ones are also nice enough. :)

  12. magpie (larah) said, on May 09, 2007 at 4:48 am

    congrats on the year.

    it’s definitely all about the bubblegum, how about a slight variation:

    I came here to write code and chew bubblegum, you got any bubblegum?

  13. elainevigneault said, on May 09, 2007 at 6:32 am

    I vote for “high tech litterbox” and if you don’t use it I may steal it.

    But, how is your blog reputation management when you blog anonymously? Am I missing something?

  14. engtech said, on May 09, 2007 at 7:49 am

    @elaine: the reputation management thing lasted only around two months and then I decided I wanted to be more of a mainstream blogger.

  15. MG Siegler said, on May 09, 2007 at 11:16 am

    A nice recap. Reason enough to keep soldiering on…

    I like the Kip action on the last tagline.

  16. Cory OBrien said, on May 09, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Congratulations on making it this far, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store. Internet Duct Tape is a classic.

  17. Lisa Bettany said, on May 09, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    congrats! i will definitely have fun exploring your uber blog.

  18. jess said, on May 09, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    congrats!

    PS high tech litterbox made me smile

  19. strategicalliance said, on May 09, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Congrats on your one year…God bless.

  20. David Airey :: said, on May 09, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I’m with the others in wishing you congratulations for the one year anniversary. I may not visit all that often but I really enjoy reading your posts in my feed reader.

    My tagline suggestion:

    “A cat’s not just for Christmas”

  21. A.J. Valliant said, on May 09, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    What should my tagline be?

    Engtech: Improving everyones productivity but mine

    or

    Engtech: Freelance Cyber MacGyver

  22. engtech said, on May 09, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    I think I might right an app so that I can have random rotating tag lines every day :)

  23. logtar said, on May 09, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    HBD and that is totally CAT ABUSE! LOL

  24. baredfeetandteeth said, on May 09, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    And congratulations on your mammoth success!! *Presents giant cat shaped cake*

    also…

    Tagline:

    Engtech: The shit you’ve been missing out on since 2006

  25. engtech said, on May 09, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Wow, the new title/tagline is *really* working. I’ve been on wordpress.com top blogs many times, but this is the first time I’ve seen this much traffic from it.

  26. Javier Aroche said, on May 09, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Congrats!!

  27. Paula Neal Mooney said, on May 10, 2007 at 3:02 am

    This is too funny.

    I kinda like this one:

    “making things more complicated in order to sound smarter”

  28. Haacked said, on May 10, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Your blog is always a fun read. I vote for “Haack the planet!”

    whoops! A typo. Or was it?

    hmmmmm…

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  32. Vinod Ponmanadiyil said, on May 14, 2007 at 12:47 am

    One Year and soo much!. Great going. Congratulations.

  33. Amit Agarwal said, on May 14, 2007 at 10:03 am

    engtech – now that’s very impressive. Good luck.

    PS: Your cat is now world famous.

  34. aimforawesome said, on May 14, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    That’s quite amazing what you did in a year! I’m excited about my own first year, though without some software to distribute… it’s gonna be rough! I’ve made some free e-books and I’ll work on distributing those. I found your site through a link off one of my feeds. I’ll add you to Google reader. Good to find you…

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    Congratulations on the success you’re achieving – and will achieve throughout your many years. Looking forward to more and more of your site improvements.


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