April 1, 2013

Why have we returned, when we were doing such a good job of staying away?

But, really, were we, really?

Uborka started in July 2003 as a Movable Type installation on erzsebel.com, which was Karen’s vanity domain at the time. Originally named “Into The Wild” and then rechristened “Uborka”, we eventually migrated it to uborka.nu in September 2003. Early posts are archived but are somewhat marooned, as on April 2004 I accidentally deleted the database and did not have a backup. Fortunately, because of the way that MT generated pages and served them as static HTML, the viewable content was not lost, and can still be seen to this day (between https://uborka.nu/ubi/000004.html and https://uborka.nu/ubi/000625.html).

On 11 October 2005 we pulled the shutters down on Uborka for an indefinite hiatus, but soon afterwards we restarted our own individual blogs and went back to sporadically posting on them, where we felt free to post as often or infrequently as we liked. These then gradually dwindled down to nothing, and Twitter took over. Bloody Twitter.

There used to be a oft-repeated shibboleth “I’m blogging this.” Granted, it was an annoying turn of phrase at the time, but it hindsight it was full of promise. What it would mean was “I intend to write a blog post about this event. I may not get round to starting it. I may abandon it half way through. If I do complete it, it may be about this event, or it may go off onto a tangent and be about something else entirely. But what matters is that I’m inspired by what I am witnessing here.” What do we have now? We have Twitter, for the tl;dr generation. Blogs in bitesize. To me, “I’m tweeting this” means “Let’s see if I can boil this experience down to 140 characters without utterly destroying its appeal.” It’s evident that some people take well to this form of constrained writing, and produce some superb moinsgrossbyte nuggets. But for me, I find myself too-often frustrated by the fact that I don’t have the freedom to yibber and yabber and bimble and bumble and waffle and weffle.

So here we are. The period between our decision to relaunch Uborka, and last Friday (which by now is probably cemented in your memories as one of the great highlights of 2013), was about two weeks. I discovered two things early on in that interval. Firstly, that allowing two weeks was overly generous, as I managed to get most of the required technical tasks done in the first two days, and have been twiddling my thumbs ever since. Secondly, that Uborka was a much more short-lived phenomenon than I recalled. Here’s a graph of my entire life, and boy it’s a doozy.

My Life

The green section represents Uborka. The blue section represents my main personal weblog. Other obscure/private weblogs are not included. This chart was not what I expected to see, and given how the end of Uborka coincided with the beginning of Bernard, it’s a startling reminder of how brief that pre-Bernard period of our relationship was ((And yes, it’s true that she forced me into becoming a dad because her biological clock was ticking, and I’ve resented her for it ever since. As soon as he reaches 18, I’m outta here to hook up with some floozy who is half my age.)). I was expecting to see a decent-sized blue chunk at the start (my blogging pre-Uborka), a meaty green wedge (the good old days, ah them, yes you’re right there with me aren’t you) and then a pathetic blue dribble. And if memorableness linearly correlated with elapsed time, then that’s how it would be.

And this proves my point which I announced right back at the start of the post, but then pretended to have forgotten about. Does it make any sense to say “we’re back” when, as far as I can deduce, we haven’t really been far from here all this time?

Incidentally, it’s been a fun couple of weeks getting the old templates and tricks across from Movable Type to WordPress, and if you find anything questionable then drop me a line. I’m aware of the fact that on mobile phones the search box obscures the masthead image – I’ll see what I can do about that.

Pete

13 thoughts on “Why have we returned, when we were doing such a good job of staying away?

  1. I still to this day get confused between the code name and real name for your kid.

    I hope you’re happy.

  2. I have a great deal of…smugness…over conversations I had with people during the green wedge of blogging.

    “You put *what* online?”
    “Well, you know, whatever I want. Write stuff about how I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life.”
    “That’s weird.”

    UH-HUH, REST OF WORLD?

  3. Yeah, it’s just not weird enough anymore, is it? Let’s bring back the weird!

  4. “Does it make any sense to say “we’re back” when, as far as I can deduce, we haven’t really been far from here all this time?”

    Gosh, that’s a deep philosophical point to read on a Monday morning. But I certainly get what you mean. I think it’s probably a hangover from our experience of the internet only a few short years ago. Back in 2005 it was, still, just about possible to withdraw from it to a large degree – oddly, it was also in 2005 that I took my longest break from blogging between that first blog I had and then An Unreliable Witness. For a year I pretty much only used the net for work and email. In 2005, shutting down a site or saying “I’m on hiatus” in a grandiloquent manner was a big deal – now, blogs come and blogs go and social media has made everyone’s personal experience so fast-moving that one would feel a bit of a knob coming out with statements like that. Though it doesn’t stop some people – including me, of course, since I’m frequently a knob – doing so, but then I’m old school. Ver kidz would probably think I was nutz, innit. “You what, Grandad – you’re going ‘on hiatus’? Isn’t that a Caribbean country on the island of Hispaniola? I learned that in me geography, y’know.”

  5. It actually makes me feel a bit inadequate. Like I did a really shameful job of hiating. I’m a big old fake.

  6. It’s okay, Pete. Go back into your archives and create a post from shortly after your last one in 2005, in which you both pretend to strop off into an ‘indefinite hiatus’ because “blogging isn’t what it was”, etc. We’ll pretend not to notice that it wasn’t there before.

  7. From what you say, Vaughan, it seems the one thing the internet is lacking at the moment is some good hiatuses. I can’t see any of these Facebook young’uns pulling off a half-decent hiatus.

  8. Well, it’s true that I’ve been struggling with inspiration lately.

  9. And there was me thinking that you restarted the blog because you were so inspired by my “10 years of blogging” bash that you wanted one of your own.

    FYI, I didn’t pause the counter for my 18 month haitus so, by those rules, you can soon claim 10 years of blogging too 😉

  10. I claimed 10 years from the start of my first blog in 2011, but failed to have such an awesome party.

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