Now, my background is that I build web pages and have been a programmer since I was a kid, so people making pages that are just filled with whatever pops into their head at the moment seems like a very alien if not insulting practise. How is it useful? What purpose does it serve, other than to make yourself feel important, posting about yourself?
Yet, here I am, with my own blog now. Why?
I seem to have done things in reverse. I started by creating a large site, filling it with systems, resources and content. To help people find it, I created the usual social media connections with a Facebook page and Twitter account. I created a blog as well… twice, in fact… on Tumblr, but I only used it to mirror the announcements I was already posting on Facebook and the site’s main news feed. Writing about what I was doing seemed like a waste of my time and energy that could better be used in adding more materials or advertising more.
Then, over a year ago, I got the urge to go ahead with a project I had started long ago and really wanted to have, but had kept in the background: a magazine. I loved the idea of having a publication about languages, linguistics, and culture, which others could read as well as contribute to. I had actually created simple magazines before, with two versions of “Babel Babble” during my time with UniLang. But this time, I wanted it bigger and more professional, with a web version that people could comment on and share with others as well as a PDF version which would look like a printed magazine.
I am not sure exactly how I made that leap, because writing for a magazine takes a lot of time and creative energy, different from what is needed for programming web pages They are practically at opposite ends of the mental spectrum. Yet one of my strange realities is that once I get an idea in my head and I am able to do it, I have to do it.
Anyway, I built the magazine, dubbed it “Parrot Time”, and put it online, freely available to everyone. That forced me to drag the writer in me, kicking and screaming, to the front and make him earn his keep in my brain. This actually helped in a way, because it gave me a way to balance out my activities; when I was sick of programming, I could write; when I was sick of writing, I could add language resources; when I was sick of that, I could do programming.
But then, why stop there? During the writing for the magazine, I created a series of articles on a topic that had been in my head for a few years: the methods people use to languages. I took these articles and reformed them into a single document, which I planned to release as PDFs in the same channels as the magazine. Sean L Young, a language teacher and blogger, suggested publishing it as an ebook, like he had done for some of his writings. Brilliant! So I went ahead and did that, creating “Finding Your Way to Languages: Six Methods of Language Learning”.
Still, I hadn’t explored all mediums, and after a discussion about the cover of the book on Facebook, I was reminded of another project I had started a few years ago and had put aside due to time constraints: a Zazzle store, which would sell promotional materials, such as t-shirts and mugs for the website. So I went back to that, dived in creating new designs and putting several hundred fun languages items on sale.
So what does all this have to do with starting a blog?
I was getting to that! I realized that I was tossing up projects left and right and was having a hard time keeping track of them. I had more, smaller projects I had to expand as well as ideas for other new projects, and, referring back to what I said above about when something gets in my head: I need to get it out there.
So my brain went back to a conversation I had had a few weeks ago with the brilliant Brian Powers, who runs the “Languages Around the Globe” Facebook page and blog. We had talked about a number of technical stuff in the past, comparing notes and trying to figure out the best ways to reach people. He had suggested to me that I start a blog, and I had mentally retreated. One of those things? I knew many people that had very good blogs, well written and inspiring, such as Ellen Jovin’s “Words and Worlds of New York”, Amy Estrada’s “Language Boat”, Brian’s “Languages Around the Globe” and Chris Broholm’s “Actual Fluency”, just to name a few. And, of course, I knew of Benny Lewis’s “Fluent in 3 Months”. But blogs! They just weren’t my thing, as I told Brian. I couldn’t see how I could write on a regular basis when I was already writing in so many other areas. For me, doing a blog would be crazy.
Well, I have never denied being crazy, and now the idea was in my head. It had to come out.
Is there a purpose to all this?
I have learned over the years that most of the time, people don’t look at facts and come to a conclusion. Instead, they make a decision about what they want to believe, then look for the facts to justify what they do. Humans are not reasoning creatures. We are rationalizing beings.
So, I have built this blog with the rationalization that I can use it to update about my various projects, hoping to make people aware of them and allow them to better utilize them. Otherwise, they are useless.
I also want to help promote other’s works here. There are so many projects from various language lovers around that I have found recently, yet they all seem to be largely struggling themselves to be found. We can do better than this!
Finally, I want to be able to talk about languages, including examining language situations in the world news.
Will this blog be successful in attaining the goals I have attached to it?
I will do my best to make it so!