kottke.org posts about blogging

Indoor Voices, A Quarantine Group Blog Just Like The Old Days

posted by Aaron Cohen   Mar 27, 2020

A few weeks ago, writer Kyle Chayka Tweeted “I predict a great Blogging Renaissance,” to which also writer Kevin Nguyen responded, “i kinda wanna do a weird free-for-all quarantine blog.” Then they added other writer Bijan Stephen and started Indoor Voices, a group blog which has now grown to about 80 members, all of whom miss what the internet used to be like AND happen to be home quite a bit at the moment. (To cement old school credentials, Indoor Voices is hosted on ancient blogging platform Blogspot, the place I got my blogging start in 2004. (Out of an abundance of shame, I absolutely will not be linking to this first blog.))

From the Indoor Voices about page:

Blogging is not a substitute for direct action. Direct action in this case involves staying home. Blogging is one thing to do while staying at home. Please wash your hands. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time where the internet was just full of casual websites posting random stuff. And you’d go to them maybe even multiple times a day to see if they had posted any new stories. It was something we all did when we were bored at our desks, at our jobs. Now there are no more desks. But there are still blogs.

There’s no theme, except quarantine. There’s no schedule, except people post every day whenever they want. As you might expect from a group of 80 people, post subjects vary. There are beauty tips, missives to Deadwood and Steven Universe, strategies to get through your pile of New Yorkers, and a regularly featured What Should You Do Tonight? I myself have posted about working from home with kids (it’s…fine), what help small businesses need right now, and Quarantine, an anthem sung to the tune of Dolly Parton’s, Jolene. (This level of blogging productivity hasn’t been seen by me since 2014.)

In a brief interview, cofounder Kevin Nguyen had this to say about Indoor Voices:

We started Indoor Voices because we were nostalgic for classic days of blogging, and partly as an inside joke. Then we realized that the blogs we missed felt like an inside joke that a small community was in on. So far, we’ve been really thrilled with the creative, chaotic energy that people have been putting forward. It’s writing for writing’s sake, and we’ve enjoyed seeing just how diverse and funny and strange that’s been. Probably helps that we’re all slowly going stir crazy.

Note also, Kevin’s first novel, New Waves, is finally out. It’s my most anticipated read of the year, but don’t take my word for it. Almost every publication that writes about books regularly listed it as anticipated as well.

Three-step dance

posted by Tim Carmody   May 06, 2011

In my last post for the week, I want to talk a little bit about what Kottke.org means to me: why I’ve loved reading Jason’s blog for years, and why I love writing for the site whenever he asks me to fill in.

Part of it is the content. Liberal arts 2.0, an idea I take seriously enough that my friends and I wrote a whole book about it two years ago.

And a big part of it is the audience and credibility Jason’s built up over the years. I’ve written for a lot of big-name websites, but nothing sends ripples through the blogosphere and Twitter (at least the corners I care about) more than a post on Kottke.org. Jason once wrote a two-sentence post complimenting my writing on Twitter. 48 hours later, I’d gone from 500 followers to 2500.

But really, if I had to pick my favorite thing I love about Kottke.org, it’s the structure.

The structure of a Kottke post is totally elemental:

And that’s it. It’s the five basic units that blogs were built on, distilled to their essence. And titles and comments are important, but Jason’s done without them both. They’re paratext. The real core is link, pull, response.

If you read Andrew Sullivan or Ta-Nehisi Coates, their posts are structured almost exactly the same way. Jason does it with artful minimalism, while I usually wind up pushing two or three of them together like Legos. But it’s really the same idea.

These are also the elements that help establish bloggers’ identity as readers in conversation with other readers: I have seen something that I feel strongly enough to think and write about, and what would make me happiest is if you look at it, then think and write about it too.

It’s one reason I like using enigmatic titles (like the one above) rather than spelling everything out. It’s like, if you’re a Kottke.org reader who’s ready to read, then read. And trust me that I’ll make it worth your while.

Traditional print journalism doesn’t do this — but really, it can’t. Twitter rarely does it, because there just isn’t enough room. (You can usually do exactly one, maybe two, of the big five above.)

The vast majority of professional, corporate-owned blogs have rejected it, too, in favor of SEO-approved heds, totally predictable story lines, strict divorce between news and commentary, and pretending like their competitors — even their colleagues at the same organization — don’t exist.

Instead, we’ve got officially-approved categorial mantras like curation and community engagement — as if what mattered in great blogs was their arty taste, skill at embedding viral videos, or pushing out tweets to their followers. Rather than watching an agile mind at work, one attached to a living, breathing person, and feeling like you were tapped into a discussion that was bringing together the most vital parts of the web.

That’s what you can do with blogs. That’s how they work. That’s what we shouldn’t forget, even as we add more tools and figure out how to use them. And what I think of Kottke.org, that’s what I think about.

Let’s keep this thing moving, citizens.

Agnes Martin is one of my favorite

posted by Deron Bauman   Mar 03, 2008

Agnes Martin is one of my favorite painters. Her advice for how to make progress in life ties in nicely with the articles I posted on options, gusto, and blogging.

To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind.

How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 08, 2005

How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else). I can hear Dooce now…JUST WHERE WAS THIS TWO YEARS AGO?