Tinder for Blogs

I spent the greater part of last night on a damn fool crusade to find new and interesting blogs to read. The “very clever” plan I formed – or rather stumbled upon – was to find a few good blogs, and then look at every blog they said they were following. After some ninja level copying, pasting, sorting, and de-duplicating, I ended up with a list of about 600 blogs.

Here’s the thing. Aside from the blogs that weren’t there any more, and the blogs that hadn’t been posted to for several years, as I went on I became more and more choosy – almost to the point that I started laughing at what I was doing. I had turned my browser into a kind of “Tinder for Blogs” – lining up 10 tabs at a time, then taking a few seconds to look at each blog in turn, before deciding if I was going to swipe left or right on it.

To begin with I was quite flexible – reading recent posts, reading the author’s profile and so on. Before long that became far too time consuming though. Suddenly bad typography choices came into play. Any sign of comic sans caused instant dismissal. I closed quite a few within the first second because the profile of the author began “Christian…”. If any of the posts on the front page of a blog looked remotely like poetry I closed the tab before the secondary urge to set fire to the computer took hold.

I became a Blog snob in minutes. Bad grammar elicited similar short shrift. Eventually any blog with overt advertising became doomed too. Don’t even get me started on the fashion bloggers pedalling recycled content from their incestuous Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram content theft expeditions.

Towards the end, guilt began to set in. How many people had I thrown to the curb, purely because I didn’t want to hear them go on about their perfect children? Or their horse? Or their cat? How many people had I deleted from potential existence in my life, purely because they looked a bit shifty?

Except I don’t feel guilty at all. By the same token that anybody can publish whatever they like to the internet (within reason), the rest of us can choose what we consume. My blogroll is now filled to bursting with all manner of people I don’t know, but am hoping to learn more about over the coming months. Although the entire crusade took several hours, it actually restored my faith in the internet a little bit – certainly in the “blogosphere” (I hate the word, but can’t think of anything better). It’s nice to know there are still at least a few of us out here, emptying our head into the keyboard every few days. I had begun to suspect I was the last.

An entirely unexpected outcome of setting out on the path to discovery was that I would start to re-consider the design of my own blog. I had deliberately gone for something simple – something minimalist. I have quite deliberately *not* been adding photos to posts, because I’ve been there before. I know I’ll end up spending five minutes writing a post, and then half an hour searching Google Images for something to go with it – which of course I will have no rights to use.

At the moment I’m sitting on my hands. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to buggering around with CSS at 1am this morning though, figuring out how to make photos scale nicely in the blog posts. I guess it was around 1:30am when I spotted somebody using Instagram embeds to push photos into their posts. I tried it. It worked. Then I removed it – because I have an abject fear of connecting too many dots together. I’ve been there before.

If I just write words, there is nothing to go wrong. Words are easy. Words don’t have to look nice. Actually that’s a lie too – I won’t tell you how long I took picking fonts.

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