my favorite blogs

The blogging portion of our workshop has really been interesting. I have been fascinated to hear people talk about their impressions of online communication, about how much they do or do not want to share, about how it feels to them when they read other people’s blogs.

Personally, I have little interest in most blogs that are determinedly upbeat, chipper, always inoffensive, and always trying to sell me something. There is no reason for me to read those unless they offer serious content. Retro Renovation is a good example of a blog that is admittedly like that, but that I do like, and read every day.

It’s got ads, EBay carousels, and it is relentlessly chipper, but hey. No one pulls the mid-century mod together like Pam Kueber, and she’s full of great links and has a really organized, easy to read web presence. I love the way that she adds in Twitter and Facebook. It’s simple to have your blog automatically post to Facebook; all you have to do is sign on to Networked Blogs on the Facebook site.

Pam Kueber from RetroRenovation.com

the adorable Pam Kueber of RetroRenovation.com

Andrew Thornton’s blog is another example of what I think is a very nice balance between original, meaningful personal content, paid content, ads, and shoutouts. I always get enough Andrew that anything else he chooses to present is simply additional; I can click it if I’m interested or skip it if I’m not. And I’ve found literally hundreds of fascinating things and people and events and artworks over the years, following him on Twitter and bookmarking his blog.

Neil Gaiman and David Byrne are two artists and writers whose blogs I read every time they update; I don’t think I’ve missed a single entry from either one. It’s easy to keep up this way if you subscribe to a blog (most people have some type of “Blog In Your Email” type of link, or a feed that you can sign on to.) Neil uses Twitter well and often, and I am a part of his daily life through his Twitter feed. I don’t mind if their blogs update once a day or once a month. I know that I won’t miss anything, if I subscribe. I also rely on my Top Sites window in Safari to let me know if there is an update on my selection of most visited sites. It’s easy to see if there is, because when you click on the overview window, all sites that have updated since you last visited show a blue star. In this photo, you can see that the New York Times has a star. I’m current on everyone else.

Using this feature, I can lock in sites I want to monitor constantly, or let them self-arrange based on my frequency of viewing. I lock in my top three bars, and let the bottom float.

How and where you set up your blog will have a significant impact on how easy it is to load, read, and update. Some people choose to make their blogs a function of their own website, hosted either on their own servers, or those of a service provider. Self-hosted blogs may have the down side that (depending on your own personal connectivity and web-savvy) they may need to be updated from your home computer, and if you don’t have enough server space, and you get a rush of traffic, they could go dark. Neil Gaiman breaks web sites all of the time by linking to them. We call it neilwebfail. If your site can’t handle 500,000 people clicking on it all at once, you could easily miss your moment of fame if a celebrity or news site links to you.

Neil’s blog has a charming feature- it gives you a random photo of Neil in the upper right every time you log on or refresh. I love that! Keep things moving to keep people interested.

I don’t ever want my blog down, and I don’t want it hosted or updated from my own servers, and so I have moved my entire web presence to WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter. Cloud-hosted blogs, like those written on Blogger or WordPress, can be updated from anywhere, don’t crash when traffic spikes, and are easy to format and use. WordPress is significantly more sophisticated than Blogger, and can be more confusing to a first-time blogger, but I prefer the range of features it offers.

Other blogs I like and read regularly are Marcia DeCoster, Allison Shock, Patty Lakinsmith, Ken Thomas, Ruth Reichl, Lysa Schloesser, and Kyle Cassidy. Those people are all quite different, and the reason I read them is that I like them as people, their blogs are clean and easy to deal with, they don’t annoy me senselessly with a lot of Captcha code (please, Lord, take it off of your comment screen if you have it on there) and they update regularly.

coffee roasters, photo by Lysa Schloesser

Nothing leaves me colder than a blog that is hard to read (careful with those black backgrounds) and rarely updated. I find Ken’s black background and light font almost impossible to read, but his content is worth it, and so I click Command-Plus to enlarge the font, put on my readrers, and wade in. David Byrne writes only once a month or so, but when he does, holy moly. It’s good. Lysa’s photos are so stunning that she earns a spot in my Top Sites window even though she updates so rarely that I could have her on Feed. I want to see those photos all of the time, and the little window she occupies makes me happy with it’s beauty. Allison Shock is simply fascinating. I want to hear everything she has to say, and I never want to forget she exists, not even for an hour. Having her little window there gives me joy.

Doriot’s new blog is stunning- I would have thought that the busy background and transparent window of scrolling text would be hard to read, but it isn’t. It’s gorgeous. I wish half of what I saw in life was half that pretty.

Which blogs out there in the world are your favorite to read? Why?

Please leave a comment, and give us a link or two.

17 thoughts on “my favorite blogs

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention my favorite blogs « Kate McKinnon -- Topsy.com

  2. Three or four years ago when I did the original version of my site, I went with a black background as kind of a deliberate throwback. I get a little sick of the incessant parade of Web 2.0-style sites, with their whites, primary colors, soft edges, transparencies and spare design. Everybody trying to look like Google and Apple, basically. I missed the old web when everybody was experimenting with different looks – most of them, I admit, pretty damned ugly, but at least they expressed some individuality.

    When I redesigned the whole thing two years ago, I stuck with black because I’d started to get into photography to a much greater degree, and I just think photographs look infinitely better against a dark background. I look at a photo I’ve uploaded to Wikimedia (white background) and then look at it on my site and it just seems to have so much more pop and clarity. I don’t understand why it looks different, but at this point I’m kind of hooked on the idea that it does.

    But you’re the 3rd or 4th person to say the black background makes the content hard to read, and that really bothers me. The writing is, at this point, just as important as the pictures, and although I don’t find it difficult to read, it’s becoming clear that other people do.

    Hmmm… I don’t know. This is going to require some thought.

    Anyway, I read most of the blogs you listed, except the ones that are almost entirely craft-specific. Here are some other favorites.
    A Dark Topography is, as the name would imply, a moody, artsy, photographer’s blog, but the content is interesting enough to keep me reading.
    Tiny Nibbles (definitely NSFW) is the blog of sex expert, columnist, author, and outspoken porn advocate Violet Blue. A lot of what she posts are links to interesting porn, which I don’t really need, but her writing on sex and alternative lifestyles is fascinating.
    Dan Savage writes a sex advice column for The Onion AV Club that I’ve been reading for years. I just started reading his blog recently, but I enjoy it.
    Steven Brust is one of my favorite authors. His blog is called Words, Words, Words and reminds me of David Byrne’s in that he updates it very rarely, but when he does it’s a good read.
    Walter Jon Williams is another favorite author. His blog tends to be oriented more towards tech and geopolitics, but he’s got some interesting opinions.

  3. http://barbarasfernald.com Self promotion. If I can’t do it myself, why am I trying to blog daily for 2011? But, this entry from last March is still one of my favorites. http://barbarasfernald.com/?s=my+good+friend+holly
    I also like Trevor Corson’s blog because he writes almost exclusively about lobsters and sushi. http://trevorcorson.tumblr.com/
    I love Pink Sea http://montserratlacomba.blogspot.com/ for the ongoing visual feast that is mostly jewelry.

  4. Golly gee, Kate, thanks for the shout-out! I determined early on that I would not use the blog to push my political agenda. At least not overtly. It’s about DECORATING for gosh sake. But you know, it goes much deeper than that, once you’re into the vortex.

    The ads: So far, required, to help float the blog boat, which starts to get very expensive once you need a standalone server and need tech help because you require beyond-the-box technical solutions, especially as it relates to navigation. Not to mention all the time involved. I didn’t even start ads until well into year 3 of the blog, I was so trepidatious about them. Ultimately, I had to do it — too much time, too much money invested not to try and make it all work financially. I now have some other ideas up my sleeve to bring in revenue in a value-added way for readers, especially since I do not push or promote “gut it and buy new”.

    Question: Would you “pay” for the content you like, in the blogs you list? Like, a yearly subscription fee? $10 or $12. I fear most people are not ready for that — as evidenced by numerous newspapaers failing in their trials of this model.

    Thanks for the list of other blogs — I will spend some time with them, as I value you opinion!

    • I think you make it work beautifully, with the ads. I LIKE your ads, because they are relevant. And I LIKE your EBay carousels, because you pick fabulous things. In fact, like many of your readers, I have some of the things you featured. A mint in box Roytex man’s robe, some hardware.

      I would much rather see and interact with your ads (because they are good ones) than pay a subscription fee.

      Love the word “trepidatious.”

      • Thanks, Kate, for the feedback. Interestingly, I am reading this evening about newspapers instituting “paywalls.” Read 10 pageviews a month for free (or something like that) then you have to pay. Like: $35/month. I’m thinkin’: It ain’t gonna work. that said, anyone investing in creating unique content — journalism, or a blog like I do — MUST figure out a way to make it work financially. I am still not there.

        • Hmm. If you aren’t there yet, you probably are very close, with the hits on your site expanding exponentially.

          Personally, I would not be willing to subscribe to a news service or a blog, but I would be willing to support the site with purchases. I always suggest doing things like making a calendar, a book, or a set of fridge magnets, or some kind of kit that people can buy. Many of us will buy things like that because we love you, and want to support you, and we are getting something nifty for it. Paying for content is so… 1990. You know?

  5. My favorite blogs to ready vary with my mood. I love 15 Minute Lunch for a laugh, same with Hyperbole and a Half, and I read Maire Dodd regularly to feed my spiritual side. And of course Kate nearly every day.

    Thanks to Ken for the Mindful Carnivore recommendation. It’s now clear that I live with a man afflicted with Adult Onset Hunting. Could be worse…

  6. Such a thoughtful post. It’s taken a while to comment because I’ve been clicking on and reading your favorite blogs. Some are already in my RSS feeder.

    Here are some of my favorites:
    18KT – not a lot of text, but they feature beautiful contemporary jewelry design, and they are bilingual

    Pretty Things by Lori Anderson – http://lorianderson.blogspot.com/

    The Beading Gem – http://www.beadinggem.com/

    Thomasin Durgin – http://metalriot.blogspot.com/
    She had me at – Chilean Miner’s Ring – hello
    http://metalriot.blogspot.com/2010/10/286365-chilean-miner.html

    Notes from the VooDoo Cafe – http://voodoonotes.blogspot.com/

    Lorelei – http://lorelei1141.blogspot.com/

    And of course Kate and Andrew.

    Is this too many?????

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