Matthew David Rodgers


The Logbook

Recently, I’ve taken a lot of joy in reading the personal weekly notes that I see authors on the web publishing. I’m not sure if it’s a recent fad in blogging, or if I’m only just getting exposed to a common practice.

Look at the weaknotes from Monica Dinculescu, which is one of my favorite examples. She talks about what’s been going on in her life recently– sometimes it has to do with generative art and machine learning, sometimes it’s books she’s reading or cooking habits, and sometimes it’s just a paragraph to say that life is hard and she’s feeling low. It’s interesting, it’s honest expression, but it’s mediated as much as she needs it to be.

And Monica’s is nothing like Julia’s, or anyone else’s. There’s no real consistency in the content, other than centering around “updates”, but that’s one of the real charms of the format!

Here’s what I see as some shared criteria among these weekly notes:

  • intensly informal, with as little pretension or construction in the writing as possible
  • consistently published, with most being weekly
  • unafraid to wander into any territory– simply sharing what shows were binged that week is enough

They feel like a happy middle ground between more traditional blogging (which, for our purposes, I’ll define as a bit more long-form and focused) and the garden hose of ephemeral blurbs that is Twitter.

Twitter is great, but… ok, it’s frequently not so great. But I can’t deny that I love the digital intimacy that it provides when it’s at its best. The criss-crossing of retweets and shared links and subtweeted replies that trickles in from the web of people that I follow and that follow me has shown me so much. There are many reasons that I would like to spend less time on Twitter. None of the social media platforms are the digital town squares that they insisted they were, but I still hold onto hope that the web can give us something like it.

A key piece to that hope is decentralization, which is at the heart of the whole blogging endeavour. But a lot of my favorite blogs, the ones that I try to ape most obviously, are a lot of work. I like to put in that work, but not always– as I’m sure is evidenced by the single post I’ve previously published.

It doesn’t have to be that way, I know. But a discipline helps me a lot when finishing things, and so far, there’s no form or rules driving my attempts to write here. Without it, I’ll fiddle and tweak and abandon at will.

Which– don’t get me wrong– I don’t want to change! I am not a captial-w “Writer”, I don’t need this to be anything but fun. But I do like to lowercase-w write, and I need to do it more often.

And so: here’s where I over-commit. I’m going to start publishing my own weekly notes, dubbed the logs. The very general guiding principles of the logs are:

  • they’ll be published (hopefully) weekly. Even though I’m looking forward to the discipline of publishing regularly, shit happens, and I don’t want to view it as a failure if I miss a week.
  • they’ll be about things that were on my mind over the week, whether it’s ideas that I’ve been consciously working through, things I discovered and enjoyed across the web, or just that show I binged this week, I want to write about them.
  • they’ll be written with minimal editing– kind of like I’d write a tweet– and composed in less than an hour.

I’m excited! The logs await!