There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Blogday to Me

I realized today that December 23 marks five years that I've been blogging. My first effort was a blog narrowly focused on the topic of shortwave broadcasting. This at a time when only a few thousand people had even heard of weblogs. Like many bloggers who started in 1999, I used Blogger at the time. I had been reading blogs for many months at that point, but only by December did I decide to leap in to the fray. I got off to a strong start, but tapered off from there, and finally abandoned the blog in early 2002.

My second blog, Geneablogy, had an even narrower focus: my family tree. As far as I can tell, it was the first genealogy-related weblog. I started it on March 1, 2000, although there's a page for February 2000 detailing the research I did in that month. The impetus for the blog was, obviously, to document what I found as I researched my family history. The reason for starting to look into my family history in February, 2000, was that my two surviving grandparents both died in January, 2000. I had long intended to look into the subject, particularly after my great-aunt Betty gave my father a copy of a genealogy a distant cousin of hers had done detailing our descent from 17th century settlers of Massachusetts. I had done a little work before 2000, such as when I interviewed my grandmother about her life on a visit to her home in 1996, but didn't really start in earnest until the people who could answer my questions weren't around any more. I originally used Blogger for Geneablogy as well, but found that I had ambitions for the blog that Blogger couldn't meet. In 2002, during an extended bout of unemployment, I wound up writing my own blogging system using PHP and MySQL that would allow people to read backward in time, the way a blog is typically organized, or forward in time, as a narrative, and also to select only those posts dealing with specific lines I was researching. This blog has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. It has been written up in Personal Journaling and Genealogical Computing magazines, as well as in Mike Wendland's column for the Detroit Free Press. More importantly, it has helped cousins find me. The Free Press column actually helped me get in touch with a number of Brandi cousins in Michigan and solved a mystery dating back to when I was five years old. The site also makes great Google bait. A number of cousins have found me through ego surfing; they search for their last name, and come up with my site because one of my ancestors has the same last name. But probably the most important thing it's done for me is to make me sit down and work my way through what I've found and come to conclusions about it. The act of writing about what I've found clarifies what I've found. And that's the biggest help. It's also provides a useful tool for me so that I can find what conclusions I came to and how and why I came to them. In a way, the site is the ultimate in narrowcasting and has a target audience of one: me. Unfortunately, it's been several months since I entered anything on the site, which is a reflection of the fact that I haven't had the time or opportunity to do much work on my genealogical research this year. But the blog isn't dead. It's just resting. Given its purposes, it's not important for me to update it every day.

Which brings me to There Is No Cat. I started this blog during that same extended bout of unemployment because I had just written this neat blogging tool and I felt a need to use it (talk about putting the cart before the horse....) I wanted to be able to write about a wider spectrum of topics than my other blogs allowed for. I also felt that I needed a place to practice writing on a regular basis so I could get better at it. I'm not sure how much of a success it's been on that count. I don't think that the blogging format is well suited for the kind of writing I had in mind, and I don't think my writing has improved much. My photography, on the other hand.... So in that sense, the blog has been kind of a disappontment. I'm certainly not writing as much as I did when I first started, and when I go too long without writing anything, I start to feel guilty or something, which is really weird. One thing I've always tried to do is to just write about things I know something about. Just providing links to interesting stuff isn't really enough for me. I have to feel I'm adding something to the conversation. And I guess I just don't have as much to say lately. But I'm not going anywhere. My approach to blogging has evolved over the past five years. It'll be interesting to see how it evolves in the next five. Or if I'm even blogging at all in five years.

Posted at 11:07 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

happy blogday to you indeed, ralph! i'm listening whenever you have something to say, so keep on keepin' on. many bloggers who have too much to say don't really have anything to say.

love from the icy, snowy, periodically electricity-free midwest.

Posted by shirley at 10:54 AM, December 24, 2004 [Link]

yes, happy blogday. us lurkers are out here whenever you've got something to of the things I appreciate in good blogging is someone with interests or experience outside of my usual circles. I certainly know more about shortwave radio and world music than I did before.

merry christmas from the cool and snow-free pacific northwest. :)

Posted by Elaine at 12:54 PM, December 24, 2004 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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