As of today, I’ve been blogging for 10 years! Yay! Time for a retrospective.
I first started reading blogs around 2006, when I started college. I was a fan of the Bad Astronomy website which had funny material debunking the claim that the moon landing was a hoax, and other skepticism-related stuff. At some point I found that there was an associated blog called Bad Astronomy Blog. From there I branched off to other blogs, including The Friendly Atheist, Memoirs of a Skepchick, Pharyngula, and the ScienceBlogs network.1 After reading these for a while, I decided to start my own skeptical/atheist blog. I called my blog Skeptic’s Play because I was bad at coming up with names.
I came bursting out of the gate, writing original content once per day. Obviously that wasn’t sustainable, but I think it goes to show that I always had a strong motivation to write, which is probably the most important determinant of long-term success in blogging.
However, it was immediately clear that I wasn’t cut out for skeptical blogging. To be a good skeptical content creator, you either have to know stuff, research stuff, or else you have to not give a shit and just be entertaining. I gave a shit, but didn’t give quite enough shit to spend significant amounts of time researching every bullshit claim. I ended up writing about a lot of low-hanging fruit, like logical fallacies and elementary philosophizing. I also wrote about physics, math puzzles, and atheism.
Blogging about skepticism encouraged me to get involved in skepticism IRL, and I joined the local skeptical/atheist student group in 2008. I became the leader of the group for one year, and my blogging experience made me really good at coming up with discussion topics–although it did not help me actually be a good leader. I continued to participate in student groups until this past year.
In 2009, I realized that I was ace, and I started writing about that. There were not many ace bloggers at the time, so I instantly became one of the most notable and experienced ace bloggers, even though my blog was primarily about other topics, and was not remotely notable otherwise. In 2012 I would use my unique position to create The Asexual Agenda, which is one of the best known blogs on asexuality.
Realizing I was ace also caused me to join the local queer student group, and that set me on this path of being a total social justice warrior. This became an issue when in 2011, there was ElevatorGate, and a long string of feminism-related controversies in the atheist community. I was always a bit of a contrarian and critic of the community, and that continued to be the case for a long time. But over many years there was a gradual shift where I came to despise the skeptical movement, and subsequently the atheist movement.
So there was a shift in topics where I talked less about skepticism and atheism, and more about queerness and social justice. I write somewhat less about physics on account of being burnt out by physics grad school. I continue to write about philosophy, but thanks to my robot boyfriend2 who studied philosophy, I write with the benefit of actually knowing things about philosophy. I stopped writing about puzzles at some point, but added origami.
In 2015, I moved to a different website and renamed my blog A Trivial Knot. I came up with a trivial tagline (“Everything is simple except when not”) and put a puzzle in my banner. And in 2016, I moved again, onto the FreeThoughtBlogs network. This came with a bit of a readership boost, and in theory I earn money, but my blog has seen bigger transformations in its time.
My blog has never been particularly marketable. I didn’t get to where I am by aiming to please a large audience. Instead, I have been motivated all these years by my own enjoyment. So here’s to ten years of enjoyable blogging.
1. A bunch of these blogs still exist, but have changed their names or locations. Bad Astronomy Blog still exists but is on Slate, and seems to have dropped “Blog” from the title. The Friendly Atheist later joined the Patheos network when that became a thing, and also dropped “The” from the title. Memoirs of a Skepchick became the Skepchick blogging network. Pharyngula is technically still on ScienceBlogs, but ScienceBlogs isn’t as relevant as it used to be. (return)
2. Fun facts: He’s called my robot boyfriend because there was a time he had great difficulty with the Captcha codes implemented by Blogspot. He also studied economics. (return)