February 21, 2004

Ceci n'est pas un manifesto

by peterb

It's time to make what, I hope, will be the only self-referential post on this site. It's time to specify the rules of what I'm going to be writing about here

I probably shouldn't do this at all, since it intrinsically violates some of the very rules I'm going to lay down, but I feel like I have a few things to get out of my system. If I can get those things out on paper now, once and for all, I will have a document that I can refer to later when I have the urge to publish something stupid. I will read that document -- this document -- and say "No. Don't do that. That violates the rules."

  • I will write only when I have something of my own to say. The articles on Final Cut techniques, Perforce and the game reviews are good examples of this. It's good for me to write down my thoughts on software, especially, because that's what I do. In exploring someone else's creative process I can improve my own.
  • I will not write entries along the lines of "Hey, there's this really interesting conversation going on / neat thing I found at some site." You don't need me to find interesting material that other people wrote. That's what google is for. The permalinks on the sidebar are fine, but an entire article of "So-and-so thinks this" is just adding noise to the signal. This is not memepool, the peterb version. The "hybrid lions" article is an example of this sort of thing, in my opinion. I shouldn't have posted it. Maybe it's interesting along some axis, but it's not how I want to develop this space.
  • I will not be confessional, personal, intimate, or engage in other types of public displays of being a sensitive New Age guy. Some of my friends might be reading this, but my readers aren't necessarily my friends.
  • I will avoid the use of profanity at least in titles of articles, and I'll try to avoid it in articles, also. I love cursing, but that same love of it makes me prone to make weaker arguments when I do it, because I get lost in the sheer joy of calling someone a molehumper or the perjorative of my choice. I don't expect I'll be able to change my evil ways fully, but I'll at least think twice before hitting the "post" button when a curse is in the post. Curses are my crutch words; eliminating my crutch words may strengthen my writing.
  • With the notable exception of this entry, none of my articles henceforth will be about online journals, weblogs, blogging, blog software, blog tools, which weblog package is better, how blogs are going to change the world just like USENET did, RSS, RDF, XML, ATOM, personality conflicts among the various programmers writing specs and software that webloggers happen to use, or other similarly self-referential topics. It's tempting to be drawn into those discussions, because they are like ready-to-eat meals, all prepared for us to jump in and have an opinion on the thing that happens to be right in front of our eyes. But in the long run, I believe that all of those topics will be seen as insignificant. We should be grateful that Melville wrote Moby Dick instead of a bunch of short letters to be read by the town crier about how much he likes these new soft pencils from Ticonderoga over his older, hard-to-use quill pen. The message needs to be more than the medium; I want to write things that will be interesting whether they're on this online journal or in a notebook you found in the subway.

    This isn't a manifesto, because a manifesto is about telling the public, or the reader, something, as is shown by its derivation from the latin manufestus: struck with the hand. This is being posted publicly just for the benefit of one reader, myself, so that when I start to lose focus I'll have a nice big road sign to remind me that I should approach my writing with the seriousness that I want it to have.

    Posted by peterb at February 21, 2004 05:49 PM | Bookmark This
  • Comments

    Good rules, Peterb. I try to keep my weblog as content rich as possible, but I write every day (one of my rules), so sometimes fall short of the mark.

    Posted by Kristen at February 25, 2004 07:49 AM

    I see your rules and raise you one: www.tikimojo.com.

    And that is all there is to say.

    Posted by Seņor Tough Guy at October 18, 2004 04:04 AM

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