Off Topic

I think, therefore I harm

2nd Anniversary

This week marks the end of my second year as a blogger and this is my non-award-winning anniversary post.

Background

Ever since I have been an Internet user, a netcitizen, I have had a presence on the web.

2-year-anniversary-featureIn the late 90s, I was posting small computer programs that I wrote to learn, but were sometimes useful to others. The only piece of software that ever caught was tNotes, a very simple note taking program that resides in the system tray next to the Windows clock, always ready to accept new quotes or phone numbers. Version 0 been shared to friends, and to extended friends, to the point I would receive comments and suggestions from people I didn’t know. Version 1 was my first ever truly public program. Posted at Tucows, it got popular for a while, notorious for its oversimplicity. I still use version 2 today, though it is not public anymore. I think maybe one other person might still be using it. In that time frame, I also owned a few websites, moving from free host to free host as they thrived and went bankrupt. I was sharing programing tips and algorithms.

In the early 2000s, my website was a portfolio, a place to sell myself as a web developer, hosted for free at the company I worked for. I posted a few articles there, and Secure Password is a remnant from that era. Back then, I also maintained a newsletter, a weekly email where subscribers would get informed about new technologies, trends, product reviews and general computer tricks. Initially really just a bunch of links to interesting articles and websites, the newsletter eventually grew to include an original article each week. After a year or two, life caught me and the newsletter died by lack of time, not lack of enthusiasm.

By 2004, I had a self-hosted website where I irregularly posted technical articles, from how to clean a keyboard and clean the dust off the fans of your computer, to how the bits aligned in 32-bit registers of the Intel processor. Some of these articles were really opinions regarding technology trends. Over time though, my full time, not technology related job was getting my interest elsewhere and I was not interested in writing solely about computers anymore.

In 2008, Google launched Knol, a place where you could post articles about any topic you liked. Knol was meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. While this could sound like an attempt to compete with Wikipedia, they encouraged writers to express opinions on subjects rather than objectivity. For a while, that would be where I would post my articles. Some of them were still technology related, but many were on subjects as diverse as what my followers are used to now. Though Knol was my first experience of a comment system below articles, I never really liked the format. There were no mean to follow a particular author, so visitors were really just random passersby, directed to my posts from related articles by others. The only article I kept from that era is Pyometra, inspired by the sickness that had recently afflicted Catou at that time. I recently taken down five others, three of them are going to be part of a longer essay soon (another one was largely uninteresting and the last one was largely outdated). Google still owes me $5.80 from the advertisements on my posts generated over three years of my (not so) hard work.

In early 2012, as it had been announced that Google was about to pull the plug on Knol, I was looking around for a new place to post my writings. For a short while, I considered self-hosting again, and even bought a computer my company sold as they upgraded their systems. Over a weekend, I installed my very first 64-bit version of Linux, but realized how uninterested I was in managing a server again and developing a new website. I began searching the web for an alternative. I was really interested in a place I could just post, without having to manage anything. Ironically, Knol gave me the solution as, close to their definitive closure, they offered moving articles to a WordPress blog, a direct competitor to Google’s own blogging system.

Present

So there it is. In the late hours of March 1st, 2012, I registered an account here, on WordPress.com. This was the beginning of a brand new adventure. I was jumping head first in a world, new to me, open to exploration. I had no idea what blogging was really about. I had no idea of the community in existence there, how I would find new friends. Unknowingly to me, I was about to gain, for the first time in about a decade, an actual audience. People interested in reading me week after week.

Between a few random posts over the first few months, I was mostly spending time on others’ blog, exploring this new world. By late 2012, I began posting a few serious posts, and soon I knew where I was going.

In early 2013, I was totally dedicated to my blog, posting two 1000- to 2000-word posts a week. Who in their own mind can do that, while maintaining a full time job and several other hobbies, and remain sane? Well, I couldn’t. One post a week works great, isn’t it?

My very own process

Most people don’t post as regularly as I do, and that is fine. After all, blogging is a hobby, not a life, isn’t it? When you have something to say, you open up your favorite software and write, and you post it when you are done. If I did just that, I would probably post three posts in a single week, and then nothing for months. I know how I am, so I force myself into a schedule. The one-post-a-week schedule forces me to stay focused, while not overwhelming myself with it.

I maintain a list of topics which I’d like to write. The list is very long, and every time a new idea emerge I add to it, so I’m never out of ideas. Occasionally, I go through that list and pick those I feel ready to write about, and then schedule a release week for these. Then, week after week, I go through about the same routine of researching, writing and editing, a process that averages 6 hours. Some more complex articles may require nearly 10 hours of work, while My Two Cents typically only take about 2 hours. Sometimes, I do write more than one post in a week, sometimes I don’t write anything at all for an entire week, but I usually stay a week or two ahead of release date.

I am my own researcher, writer and editor. And I love it!

So what’s this blog about?

Originally, the blog was titled Tom Duhamel / The blog about nothing. Well nobody had told me beforehand that a blog had to have a title and a slogan, so these were what went into these fields at the time of registration, but of course they were not to remain.

I changed the title to Off Topic after reading a blogging guide that suggested sticking to one particular topic. I adopted I think, therefore I harm as the slogan after a conversation with a friend who noticed how my topics of conversation were world changing. That would be an overstatement, but he was right. I like to inform people and emit my often controversial opinions. There’s something I don’t like to do, though, and it is to push anyone to believe in what I believe. I never claim to know anything for sure. What I like doing is to share an opinion, bring strong arguments, let people think for themselves and hope they will make the right decisions. Educated people are more harmful than artillery, more world changing than weapons. Be informed and prosper in a free world; be uninformed and be a slave.

So what did you learn in this post? Absolutely nothing. Isn’t it great to occasionally read something and learn nothing?


Please like if you want more of the same in the future.

Below, you can share about your own history as a blogger. You could also tell me what you’d like me to cover in upcoming posts. Or talk about the weather.

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2 comments on “2nd Anniversary

  1. heretherebespiders
    February 27, 2014

    I learned a shed-load! I had no idea you had such a long history of mucking about online. I had/have a .com address (my real first name, it used to have stuff but I haven’t a clue, so while I still own it, I do nothing with it. I’m just glad to own it, because by the time Gmail rolled out and was invite-only, my real first name was already taken! Bastards. Anyhoo.

    I have to say I don’t care for ‘I think therefore I harm.’ It makes me think of people who self-harm, and I wonder if you get people here that are looking for help with that. Sorry I thought I had more to say but I have to go….

    • Tom Duhamel
      February 28, 2014

      Yep, that’s a real problem with popular free email systems, you can’t really get a good name. The one I have was the best I could get back then, and it was in the early Beta stage, like for you, when you needed an invite. All possible variants of my name were taken. I’m glad I at least got my name correctly printed for my G+ account, I was ahead of others by the same name for this one!

      I thought it was obvious enough that it wasn’t necessary to explain it. I’ll do it just now. An obvious mock of Descartes’ “I think therefore I am”, it’s what a free thinker is from the point of view of governments, or any other person/organization who wants to control you. I think, therefore I harm governments, I harm people that would like to control me. They can’t control me because I know, because I think. Clearer now? 🙂 I didn’t come up with this one, people have used them for a while. But the friend in the post is the one that pointed it to me, I wasn’t aware of it before. I’d prefer that you interpret it the same way I do, your interpretation isn’t positive enough to me.

      “Spring break” in QC, took a week off to spend it with my son. If you’d like to chat a bit, I’ll be available.

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2014 by in Personal and tagged , , , , , .
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