July 27, 2011

Lashing Together a Digital Life Raft


When I first started blogging in March of 2004, I chose LiveJournal for three reasons.

One, its very short learning curve allowed me to jump in and go without burning precious writing time on career maintenance.

Two, its social networking element allowed me to build quickly readership.

Three, it was cheap. Also important to a working freelancer, who must watch expenses carefully.

It wasn’t the shiniest or coolest looking platform on the block. In recognition of this, I stuck for many years with the most brutalist of the available templates.

Over the years of creeping uncoolness, I’ve kept it up, even as the network started to fade. In recent months I’ve maintained its once-reliable hit rate by driving people to LJ from Facebook and Twitter. Google+ has, in a few short weeks, already shown itself to be a powerful feeder as well.

With this week’s crippling denial of service attacks, the tipping point has been reached, the rats are leaving the sinking ship, and, man, the week before Gen Con is the exact wrong time for this to happen.

I won’t be shutting down the account, for those who still use it as a regular platform. It’s the number one item you get when you Google “Robin Laws”, and there’s a big value in that. But it’s high time I deprecated it in favor of another virtual headquarters on the web.

It will be annoying to spread comments across yet another platform. That was another factor keeping me on LJ all this ti me. But now comments already fragment between LJ, FB, Twitter and G+, so I might as well embrace that reality. Maybe someone brilliant will come up with a grant comment unification tool and make a zillion bucks off it.

So, here I am over on the Blogger. I’ll chip away at it in the months ahead and see if I can get it to do everything I want. If not I’ll pursue a more customized, costlier solution with a longer learning curve.

As you can see, I’m still tipping the hat to LJ, manually replicating the themed user icon thing I had going on over there.

So the question I have for you is: what do I need that I don’t know I need?


  1. I find using Disqus for comments to be very nice. I had some complaints from users having their comments eaten by Blogger's native comment functionality. No such problems since installing Disqus, plus it's integrated with Twitter and other social networking platforms.

  2. I mention this out of ignorance - does Blogger handle multiple-polls-per-post that you've been using in Korad posts?

  3. I agree that it's a good idea to have your own domain; it means that three years down the road, when this blog is the top of the search results, it'll be easier to move platforms.

    You can do this on Blogger: http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&ts=1233381

  4. Best idea: Your own domain (dirt-cheap these days) and Wordpress (which is free, easily customizable, with tons of available themes) -- which is about as easy to use as LJ or Blogspot on the back-end.

    I'd be happy to help in any way -- brief tutorial, whatever.

  5. Recommendations on a cheap, non-elephant-murdering domain provider?