walking west iv
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Tuesday, 6 November 2001

I've been trying hard not to fulfil James's predictions of June, but I fear he's right. My heart's gone out of this, as I hinted a couple of weeks ago. It's not that I don't continue to find blogworthy links, or have blogworthy thoughts, or do blogworthy things: just that 'being blogworthy' isn't what I want to do right now. I once wrote that:

Weblogging has come at an incredibly busy and unsettled time in my life; not the best environment for embarking on the Great Novel (or the Great Site Update). Without this daily infusion of thoughts and snippets, my site probably would have stayed fairly static for the past six months.

But all of that has changed. Life is settling down, and writing 'daily snippets' is looking a lot less attractive than writing something substantial. Sure, I could try to do both—have been, these past few weeks—but if you slice a cake too many times all you end up with is crumbs, and the last thing the world needs is another crumby weblog. That's not how I wanted Walking West to end up.

Of course, I could always use the blog itself in a different way—it's a malleable form, after all. Greg is doing something of the sort this month, writing a brief history of philosophy in daily instalments, and there are plenty of other examples that I can't be bothered linking to. (See? I've lost the will to link. There's no hope.) I still wouldn't say 'never again' to weblogging; I'll probably do it again next year. But Walking West—much as I've enjoyed it, much as I've grown attached to the name, the evolving design, the modest reputation it's gained—well, I don't know. It was always meant to reflect a specific time and circumstance. And there's a lot to be said for quitting while you're ahead. The words 'Police Academy 5' come to mind.

This doesn't mean the end of the site, though. Oh no: I have big plans, and with any luck the first of those will land in the next few weeks, now that I'm cutting free of this parachute. Watch the what's new page for developments.

One plan that's shelved for now is the enigmatic Big Idea, because I've finally learnt that a lot of it has already been done. Not all of it, and not in quite the way I'd envisaged, but near enough. So all of that angst about how to take the idea forward without giving away potentially valuable trade secrets, intellectual property rights, blah blah, was beside the point. A little disappointing, but on the other hand there's an opportunity now to play with its possibilities for real—if only I could get the &%$*@ configuration right on this server. (Mind you, the programming obstacles weren't what held me back for all of that time: it was the hosting difficulties surrounding community sites—I was broke, which wasn't the best position to launch a bandwidth-hogging site from—and the knottier copyright issues.)

Things have changed since I launched Speedysnail as a home for my online novel, complete with publicity campaign (which actually worked!—unimaginable that it would now). Not least, my thinking about the role of the site has changed, and changed again. At first I was proud that it was journal-free: it was a home for my art, not for my self. Then, as the line between site and self blurred, I plunged into weblogging, turning my temporarily-dramatic life into art in the process. Along the way I became part of a weblogging community, and the site became a way of talking to and with that community.

But now I find myself caught by the very idea of weblog-as-public-face. As circumstances force me to spend less and less time on the log, that public face looks less and less impressive. Those who knew the more frequent versions will feel disappointed; those who didn't will be unimpressed. And I, meanwhile, become more and more aware of how much less of 'me' is going into it—of the increasing distance between public face and actual self. Better, surely, to focus my energies elsewhere, to create something worth looking at.

I'm reluctant to give up the weblog-as-conversation side of it, but there has to be a better way of engaging with others than cranking out a dutiful blog entry every other day—ways like comments boxes, or MetaFilter, or email (I'm so behind in my letter-writing it's embarrassing).

No, it's time to try something different. Time to finish writing a book, time to do something with the site that doesn't revolve around anecdotes and recycled links, and time to save my philosophizing and soapboxing for a different context.

Thanks for watching. Come back soon.

This is the way the blog ends
This is the way the blog ends
This is the way the blog ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


I've just learned that Tom Working of Blog You! offered Speedysnail as an example of a 'tacky' site a while ago. I'm not sure how to react to that. Should I conclude that he actually thinks it's tacky, and feel hurt? Or that the inverted commas imply that he thinks I'm being ironically tacky—which I'm not, so I should feel hurt? Or that the inverted commas mean that he's being ironic, and I should feel flattered? Ironically enough (in the Morisettian sense), I changed the design of the front page three days after he linked to it. Even more ironically-or-amusingly, I've felt wistful yearnings for a return to the previous design, which along with my first remains a personal favourite. Tacky? Perhaps in the eyes of the sort of fifteen-year-old Tom was debating. Plenty of l337 designers, after all, favour shades of black and grey and profligate use of 6-point type—the web-design equivalent of mumbling in a room with the curtains drawn. Fortunately one's fears of bright colours and standing out from the crowd subside past the age of nineteen.

Knowing that I won't be in a position to do so in late December, I've put together my lists of favourite films, music and books for 2001. Because I did the same last year, I guess.

Monday, 5 November 2001

Are You A Blogaholic? Results
Your Score: 28 / 100

28.0%    28.0 points out of 100

45.1%    45.1 points out of 100

21 people have taken this silly test so far.
19 people have scored higher than you.
1 people have scored lower than you.
1 people made the same grade as you.

What does this mean?
You are a casual weblogger. You only blog when you have nothing better to do, which is not very often. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you'd post a little more often, you'd make your readers very happy.