changes to the site – sidebar links are a bit of a relic

Recently went through and cleaned out dead links in my Feedly news feeds. Not only did this kick in plenty of nostalgia, but also reminded me that I should update the sidebar links on my blog! While going through these, I sat back and thought about how time-consuming this process is, how annoying it is to update wordpress themes (just give me a raw txt file that I can put code in rather than wrestle with weird interpretations and random carriage returns!), and for what personal purpose this even mattered.

In short, I need to sit back and think about what exactly I am doing with this blog site and how to make it better for me. Moving to hosted WordPress has helped with site maintenance, but has made other things more difficult. In the past, I always edited files by hand and coded things directly, but these days I tend to use the WYSIWYG, but it’s not usually quite what you see…it’s more like wrestling with a slippery eel to get things to look the way I want, rather than the way the themes want. This makes updating the sidebar annoying. At best.

There’s really four parts to my blog: the posted content, the sidebar link list, comments to posts, and the links at the top that spider out to other things about me, with this blog page being the nexus point where they converge.

The sidebar links
The extensive sidebar list of links has been part of the site’s identity since the beginning, but it’s also an old school relic.

The list is somewhat save-and-forget, except for some of the most-used items. The rest, I honestly forget are here. For some, it’s still just better to use Google to get the latest, greatest.

These links are also best used by me, and probably not clicked on by anyone else ever. The list is roughly doubled up in: feedly, podcast subs, youtube subscriptions, twitter follows, discord server memberships.

I do know that clicking links will place referal pokes to the targets…maybe. It’s one of those ways to get noticed, but I’m not sure blogs and/or comments are “noticed” anymore or really followed at all. A blog used to be your focal point online that other things revolved around, but these days the social sites have supplanted them. There is also so much flow these days, that I don’t ever really “catch up” on blogs I’ve missed. They’re much like IRC or Twitter; you pop in and maybe look at the recent buffer, but the rest of the log is in the past and there’s no reason to spend that time reading backwards.

The bottom line: the link sidebar is a relic with questionable value to me, and is annoying to update.

The comments
The comments are easily forgotten, since I don’t get many and don’t expect many. The problem is the lack of two-way discussion. Comments on blogs are often post-and-forget, never looking back for an update without specific effort to do so. It’s far better to follow and tweet to someone on Twitter these days, or in extreme cases, find someone on a discord/slack/IRC.

In the past, prior to all the social networks, blog comments were useful to expand your exposure. Comment on someone else’s blog, put your own link in the comment, and likely get a poke or comment back in return. Again, though, today that is better done in Twitter/discord and by posting content that actually is useful to be consumed.

To be fair, comments are cool, akin to a Like, but dialogue anymore is best done elsewhere.

The bottom line: Ultimately, comments are an after-thought these days on any but the most popular blog sites, like Krebs’ blog.

The blog contents
But that does bring up the question of why I should ever update the blog? I honestly don’t look back on many things. The biggest two reasons: 1) shows off my interest and 2) allows me to organize and solidify thoughts. I may not reference the post itself ever again, but the act of writing something out helps ingrain the information and thoughts.

It’s not something I really do for anyone else except me, and as a way to sort of demonstrate my interest/enthusiasm/participation in the greater communities.

The posts I most-often re-reference myself are the personal ones like my yearly goals and results, or links to really informative checklists and processes; things that I struggle with putting links to in the sidebar only to forget them!

The bottom line: I still like maintaining the blog and it does have personal value to me.

The personal link nexus
I can’t see this going away anytime soon except maybe on a github page with a similar list of links. The whole point is to act as a point of convergence for my “stuff.” A place to find my Twitter link, LinkedIn page, Github page, and just a little bit about me (that age-old bio or About page that I feel is still necessary to tell your story properly).

Being able to control this convergence is still an interesting deal, as it lets me decide whether I want my personal name attached to a particular screenname somewhere, but as I get older, I also care less except with my own personal threat models.

As a bonus, I still love my personal domain.

The bottom line: I still plan to use this personal domain and resident site to be my nexus here, and I think I’ll expand the links a bit to include Github and maybe some other spots.

Plans
The links on the sidebar …could…be put into a github instead of this site, and probably more easily updated, too.

I could use github to also save backups of things like my podcast opml, feedly feeds export, and so on. Things that are not sensitive or inherently private.

A github is at least easier to update. And while it might not fix anything about my list of links and its usage, maybe it’ll help me pare it down a bit. Better yet, if I have a feedly export, why bother with the blog/news lists?

There is also the choice of having a private github for a few other things. I definitely don’t want to make it a huge “backup” of things, since that’s what other file-sharing services are sort of for, but at least some of my online presence and “home” page can be tailored a bit in private.

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