Veit's Blog

What, How, Why


I don't know how many people read my blog. Sometimes that's a bit frustrating, because I don't know which posts people like and why, but I've come to realize that that's a good thing; I'm not driven by metrics, but by my wandering thoughts alone. That's what I wanted my blog to be, anyway: a collection of thoughts I deemed important enough to write down. This article on the Google Reader solidified my convictions on what this blog should be, enough for me to write this post on the what, how, and why of the inner workings of my little corner of the web.

People are frightening

Once in a while I look at the server logs, just to see how many requests are coming in. All of my pages are fairly lightweight, and load is not much of a problem, but checking logs every now and then is, in my experience, good practice. I've seen my traffic grow tremendously since registering my RSS feed in the Recurse Center blog aggregator. People I don't know read this blog, and that's frightening, somehow, but I guess that's what I signed up for. Not having analytics saves me from constantly being frightened by how many people read my ramblings.

The same argument is applicable to comments. I like discussion, but I'm not sure I like any comment platform. Disqus is detrimental to everything I want this blog to stand for. It's neither simple, nor small, nor pretty. And rarely have I seen substantial discussions conducted through the medium; I certainly don't think it's impossible, I just think that's not how it's used. I could roll my own comment widget, I'm sure, but again, why bother? I'm sorry if I seem like I'm avoiding conversation, but really it's partly because human beings are the most frightening thing to roam the known universe and partly because I'm lazy.

Bad habits

Sometimes good inventions encourage bad habits. Syntax highlighting is a great invention. It helps me read code by giving me semantic cues, especially when skimming. Sometimes it even helps me find bugs, like parenthese gone astray without me needing to compile or run the program. It's particularly helpful for beginners, I feel, because highlighting groups of things in different colors—having one for, say, primitive data type literals and one for keywords—helps novices find structure in the chaos that is programming. The effect of syntax highlighting on program understanding seems measurable.

In a blog setting, however, it just encourages writers to sling walls of code at their unsuspecting readers. I specifically chose not to use syntax highlighting with Prism or highlight.js, for example, because I would be tempted to do the same. By not having syntax highlighting, I restrict myself to not showing my readers more than ~8 lines of code at a time. I've been asked a few times to add syntax highlighting by friends and colleagues. Sorry, folks, but that just won't happen. I don't want to speak to y'all in code.

Delusions of grandeur

All of this makes it sound as if I think I got this blogging thing down, when, in fact, I don't. I started this blog a mere three months ago on a whim, without giving it much thought. But I am an avid reader of blogs, both professionally and in my free time, and I failed to keep a blog twice in the past. Now, for the first time, it feels like I'm onto something sustainable. And I want to share the product of this process with you while being transparent about why and how I get there. Maybe my ideals will change. If they do I'll share them with you again; let me wish you all the best in the meantime!