Is there a possible connection? Only in my blog, my mind.

In a series on blogging (what a whacky idea in 2017), Doug Belshaw outlined ideas on Deciding what to write about in your blog post. I left a 2-3 paragraph comment that seems to have fallen into the cracks.

I think we agree that one should just try all kinds of topic, not aiming to be “inspirational” or academic, or doing more than trying out some ideas. Like many, I have lavished energy on blog posts I thought were important, that might generate response, rebuttal, something, and after publishing…. crickets.

In a comment that did get through on Mike Caulfield’s fab post on Attention Economies, I tried to make a case that audience, reads, re-whatevers ought never be the primary motivator, but to be honest, it is rewarding when it happens. It should be the bonus, not the goal.

If you have been at it a while, you may have the experience that something silly you toss off without much thought somehow resonates with people. I submit as my own stories… pickles and shoe tying.

In twitter, I feel like I toss out some really well honed political commentary or criticisms of higher education, often to no ripples at all (I do keep in mind the words of founder Biz Stone at a 2008 conference that Twitter was like email without the expectation of a reply) (that’s old).

Maybe a week ago, I looked at the sparse amount of food in my fridge, especially devoice of vegetables, I spotted a lonely pickle jar with two dills left. This inspired:

I don’t think I’ve gotten more replies on a tweet in a year, yeah 8 replies, I am like so trending. By the way, the consensus = “yes”, thank you eight people on twitter.

Often I find ideas to write / tweet about just in every day occurrences. I cannot go outside and not trip on a metaphor. If you stay focused within just a topic or discipline, you are are wearing a Cone of Missed Possibilities.

Back in April, I wrote a blog post about something I might have never thought of, how all my life I have been tying my shoes wrong. I did not open the WordPress editor and say, “I know what I am going to write about! Shoe Tying!”

Not whopping, and I thought there were more comments than the 5 I see there, but it seemed like people responded to a shoe-tying blog post more than the usual fare.

No, I had earlier that day read a blog post from Bud Hunt about a TED talk on shoe tying, and later that day or the next on the radio I heard a news story how grad students were studying the physics of why shoes come untied. Both of those disparate sources happening in proximity spawned my own memories.

Patterns of information, common ideas between different domains, that’s where I sometimes find ideas.

And that memory of how I learned to toe my shoes wrong, led to more metaphorical musings, as starting to change the way I did something by reflex was done first by doing the opposite (basically my shoe tying problem seemed to be fixed by changing the over under of my first crossing, yeah I know, that’s startling).

Once I started changing my habit, the approach of doing the opposite of my tendency got confusing, because I started to unlearn that tendency…. hmm where might that apply?

In pondering whether my silly throwaway posts are what gets noticed led me last night to play with pulling out my web stats in a public place.

I’ve not crunched the data, but I am not seeing pickles, shoe-tying, or other throwaways at the top of the list (though Sandy Jensen Brown might lump animated GIFs in the throwaway pile).

This is bubbling as my MA thesis seminar at Kean University class starts tomorrow. I want, expect my students to blog a lot about their ideas, questions, process in starting and finishing a thesis. What I’d like to emphasize that these kinds of blogs ought to be more of a notebook than a publication; that what they write may not seem directly related to their project.

What I think is worth writing about are things in your day that nibble at your attention. That make you pause, ever so briefly. You never know when pickles and shoe tying may lead to a thesis chapter.

It’s part of the appreciation of the adjacent possible as well as the notion of structured serendipity I still find valuable.

And now when I click publish, I should be high on the list of search results on “pickles” and “shoe tying” (because that is like so important).

Featured Image: Composite image from Dill pickles – Ready for the basement flickr photo by grongar shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license and Pixabay shoe tying photo by PublicDomainPictures shared into public domain using Creative Commons CC0

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Well, #TrueFriend Alan @cogdog, I read all of the blog posts that you make on your blog pretty much every day, even the days when you do three of them, but I don’t always make a comment on them.

    But I did say an answer about pickles.

    I think it is a good time every time somebody writes a blog post, and just like making more gifts, people need to make more comments, too. Like you said other times, people are lazy but it is maybe just being used to just pushing a like button makes them not stop and make a comment most of the time.

    Nowadays, with technology like talk-into-textwords on your phone, it is an easy time to make a blog post, and where ever you are without even having to touch the keyboard that you don’t even have on a phone.

    So I will try to make more comments. Plus, did you get pickles beets vegetables to go in your fridge?

  2. Biggest article I ever had on my blog for readership/sharing/linkage was an absconded, “shared” recipe for Chili that I linked to on another site. People luv food related linkage it seems. And readership would always spike in November, during football season.

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