So, yeah, setting up a blog is work. Why bother, given the stupifying number of platforms for self-publishing online? I won't bother to list them--if you are reading this, you can either figure it out, or you're probably looking for the wrong Alex Allain. The answer is, partly, because it's something to do--setting up a blog is, after all, the easiest part of blogging. The answer is partly because I manage to run a website that receives 1M+ monthly visitors, so it seems kind of awkward that my web presence boils down to some random profiles on other peoples websites. Part of it is that I like long form content (i.e. rambling). Part of it is that I want to have my own damn homepage, thank you very much, with my own suggestions for what you might like to know about me, as opposed to what my favorite movies are (as if you care).

But the real reason is that I hate symmetric platforms. If I friend you on Facebook, you're going to friend me back (or not--but then why are you reading this?) If I add you to a circle, chances are you'll be polite enough to put me into a circle too. And that, my friend, is what social pressure does. But it probably doesn't mean you want to read long-form content--or at least it's not a guarantee. Certainly if you go to Facebook looking for the latest news in the lives of your friends--or for entertaining cat photos--some wall of text that's abbreviated with 100 or so characters and a "More" link is not going to make your heart leap with excitement. Moreover, the audience is, well, everyone I ever friended (or added to a circle), which means that it's probably lots of people for whom their yearly quota of "words from Alex" would have been used up in the first paragraph of this post. The incentives--at least for me--are entirely skewed to short, pithy and infrequent. Short, pithy and infrequent is fine, but that's not the point of this blog (as you can see).

This is all not to say that Facebook (for example) doesn't have some benefits for content creators (ok, ok, I can hear you now: "you call this content??" Let's move on). For one thing, getting lots of likes is nice--it shows that someone is interested in what you wrote. When I publish to, I keep a close eye on the social feedback to see if I'm writing content that people are interested in--just like I look at Google Analytics data and email feedback. And it is indeed nice to have a built-in distribution mechanism for content--that's why has a Facebook page.

But it also means that I basically write nothing--or almost nothing--in any of those fora. Let's see how a blog does.

Alex is a software developer (as if the design didn't give it away!) based in the Boston area.