When and where to post?

At any point in time I always have 20 or more blog post drafts stored in MarsEdit. Whenever I get an idea for something I want to blog about, I try to write it down. But then, for whatever reason, I decide not to post it right away. This may be because it was an underdeveloped idea, one that I feel I have to think more about before I actually post it. Or it may be that I get interrupted by something, and just forget about the whole thing before I go through my drafts folder again.

Once in a while I try to go through the drafts and delete or write them up properly. The problem is always how much time I should spend on writing and polishing the blog posts before publishing them. In general, I try not to spend too much time on blog posts, as I see them as small ideas that I want to share with the world quickly, or reminders to myself or others. More developed and complex ideas go into publications.

I see that people have very different strategies when it comes to this. Some spend a lot of time writing long posts, embedding pictures and videos, and proofreading properly. Others post short and quick notes about all sorts of things.

For really short things I have started to like Twitter quite a lot. It is the perfect medium for one-sentence long thoughts or links to interesting things. But for more paragraph-sized ideas I still like the blog format, and a somewhat quick and rough writing process. The rest of the time I have to spend on writing papers, since the Norwegian research system evaluates you on the number of  “research points” you have generated over the last year.

[This blog post is an example of something which I am not really sure is interesting to the world or not. But, since I already spent a few minutes writing it, I take the chance of publishing it anyway. ]

What to choose: Browser plugin, web interface, desktop application?

Nowadays I have a hard time deciding on what type of application to use. Only a few years back I would use desktop applications for most things, but with the growing amount of decent web 2.0 “applications” I notice that I have slowly moved towards doing more and more online.

Let me use this blog as an example. It is based on WordPress, which now offers a good and efficient web interface. However, it just doesn’t feel as snappy as a desktop application. A few years back I used MarsEdit for all my blog writing, but for some reason (I can’t remember exactly when) I decided to use the WordPress web interface for blog writing instead.

Last year I discovered ScribeFire, a browser plugin available for FireFox, Chrome and Safari. I have been quite happy with ScribeFire, as it is readily available in the browser. The fact that it also allows for editing the static pages, as well as handling image uploads makes it into a really powerful solution.

However, today I opened my old version of MarsEdit by accident, and I actually realized that I have missed having a decent blog editor for the last couple of years. Even though the WordPress web interface, and the ScribeFire plugins both behave well and do (almost) all I want, they still can’t compete with a native desktop application when it comes to snappiness and functionality. So now I am back to MarsEdit, and happy to see that it finally has support for rich text editing in the latest version. I will probably use the other alternatives to, but I realize that desktop applications still have their mission.

Tags and categories

I have been remodelling my web page today, installing the latest version of WordPress, and testing out a new theme and organisational structure. I have been using categories for a while in my blog, but have not used the tags feature because I didn’t really understand the difference before I read this:

Categories can be tags, sure, but not all categories are tags, and not all tags should be categories. I think of categories as a table of contents and tags as the index page of a book. If I’m searching for a broad topic, unsure of exactly what I need to find or the keywords, then I will hit the table of contents (categories). If I know the exact word I need in order to find the information I want, then I will hit the index page (tags).

This seems reasonable, and I will start to use tags and categories differently from now on.