A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

[META] What other blogs do you read?

with 3 comments

What other blogs do you read?

I’m curious, and also hungry for new blogs to add to my blogroll.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 13, 2015 at 3:59 am

Posted in Meta, Popular Culture

Tagged with , ,

[META] What do you want out of a blog?

The question in the subject line of the post is it. Do you want more original comment? Do you want more links? Do you want something else?

Please, discuss and suggest away.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 4, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Meta, Writing

Tagged with ,

[WRITING] On the transience of blogging, or, is that all there is?

A well-written post  by Jim Belshaw that he posted to his blog Personal Reflections yesterday really made me think. There, he considered a post of his written in 2007. He remembered where he was and what he was doing at the time; he recognized that the sad situation he had described then had not changed in any of its particulars, sadly; he noted that changing HTML standards and link rot required a revision.

WordPress lets me know, whenever I have successfully uploaded a post, how many I have made in total. Lately it has been hovering around 16 thousand or so, stretching back to the very first posts I made back in 2002 on my LiveJournal. How much of what I wrote has lasted in anything like as good a form as Belshaw’s post? What have these posts led to, if anything? What might they yet lead to? Or, what can they not become, not now and perhaps not ever?

I am wondering, thinking. I admit to being afraid as to what I might conclude.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 10, 2015 at 3:45 am

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO shows the scope of the construction at College and Spadina, as streetcar track work continues.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the evidence for a subsurface ocean on Ganymede.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining a very early Sun-like star and its debris belt, noting evidence that massive collisions are quite common.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the thickness of the ice covering Europa’s ocean, suggesting it might be 28 kilometres.
  • Mathew Ingram notes how he and other GigaOM writers are now writing for Fortune.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money places the Germanwings mass murder in the context of the precarious nature of airplane pilots’ careers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the very thin atmospheres of Io and Callisto.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog celebrates 100 thousand page views.
  • Towleroad notes how pro-gay ads help normalize depictions of queer lives.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy is concerned about the impact of ignorant voters.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian interest in making participation in censuses mandatory, observes fragile leadership in post-Soviet countries, and notes virtual republics declared by pro-Russians in southern Ukraine.

[WRITING] “In Celebration of Old-School LiveJournal”

Via Nicholas Whyte I found Lindsay Gates-Markel’s essay at The Toast. It’s a sensitive essay, about the importance of LiveJournal to her–as a person, as a writer–and one that evoked substantial amounts of nostalgia for me.

(Oh, if only the platform hadn’t been left to decay! My friends page is still populated but it is no longer what it was.)

Reading back, of course, it’s all a little precious, all a little LiveJournal. I was figuring out that I was a writer, but I was also young, I was very sure about many incorrect things, I felt ready for life without having any realistic idea of what life was actually like. In short, I was a teenage girl. It reassured me to filter everything, as it happened, through words. The best way for me to comprehend my own life was to read it back to myself.

And I knew I wasn’t alone. The girls who read my LJ, and vice versa, were doing the same; they, too, believed their lives were at least worth documenting, and so we were hungry together, reaching out toward the details in one another’s lives like vines toward the sun; we loved each other, celebrated surprise joys and consoled atomic hurt. We joined communities to learn to knit and to share poetry and to post photos of ourselves. We created new usernames to symbolize new directions in our lives–one for college, one for poetry, one for only extra-secret secrets. LiveJournal was a neverending sleepover for us sentimental storytellers, teenagers who were feeling every feeling. The sun was just about to come up. We had plenty of snacks. We passed our diaries around the circle.

In the LJ archives of my dear friend Courtney, there’s a post she made in 2002, as a teenage girl:

man this thing works. its like all the badness escapes when you write it down.

I stopped using LiveJournal years ago, though I gave it up in fits, came crawling back to create temporary friends-only journals that now sit dormant with only four or five posts. LiveJournal ended with a whisper; all the other girls I’d gotten to know over nearly a decade on the site stopped using it, too, seemingly within the same few months. Many of us moved to Tumblr, where there was no comment function, and our personal posts became rarer and rarer and—in my case, anyway—eventually stopped.

Last fall, after hearing about TinyLetter, a personal newsletter service, I signed up for an account. For several weeks, I sent out letters that were bad versions of other people’s fascinating TinyLetters. Finally, after some weeks of floundering, I sat down at the end of a hard day at work and wrote a letter about how I felt—very scared and lost at thirty-one. I stared out my office windows. I cried a little. I just feel like I see these lives I imagined for myself all over the place sometimes, walking around, being real. Where I’d normally sent several draft iterations to my inbox, I barely even proofread this letter. “Are you sure?” TinyLetter asked. I wasn’t. I clicked Yes, send it now and went home.

More, much more, at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm

[WRITING] “Fast Writing: Ethnography in the Digital Age”

Savage Minds features an essay by Yarimar Bonilla that takes a look at th interesting question of how to write texts of enduring relevance at speed.

In a recent contribution to this writers’ series, Michael Lambek offered some reflections on the virtues of “slow reading.” In an era of rapid-fire online communication, when images increasingly substitute for text, Lambek argues we would be well served to revel in the quiet interiority and reflective subjectivity made possible by long-form reading.

In this post I would like to think more carefully about this claim and to consider whether we might want to make a similar argument regarding the shifting pace of academic writing. If, as Lambek and others suggest, the temporality of reading has been altered by the digital age, can the same be said for research and writing? How have new digital tools, platforms, and shifts in technological access transformed the temporality of ethnographic writing, and is this something we necessarily wish to slow down?

I recently had occasion to experiment with sped-up academic pacing when offered the opportunity to contribute a piece to American Ethnologist about the protests surrounding the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In brainstorming our article, my co-author Jonathan Rosa and I asked ourselves hard questions about what we could contribute to the unfolding discussion about Ferguson. Both of us had produced academic “slow writing”— the product of years of careful research, analysis, drafting and editing. We had also engaged in some forms of “fast writing.” For example, I had published journalistic pieces on social movements in Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe. But these pieces focused on events not being covered in the mainstream media and for which informed journalism was necessary. The same could not be said of Ferguson. Despite an initial lag in journalistic coverage, by the time we were drafting our article, Ferguson had reached a point of media saturation, indeed it had become a challenge to keep apace with the numerous thought pieces and editorial columns emerging at a feverish pace during this time.

In plotting our article we thus asked ourselves: how can we contribute to this fast moving conversation while still producing a piece that might hold up over time? That is, how could we produce something fast but not ephemeral?

The result was an exercise in mid-tempo research and writing. It was not the product of long-sustained fieldwork, and was very much written “in the heat of the moment,” but it nonetheless tried to anticipate how anthropologists might look back on Ferguson over time—how they might use this event to teach and write about broader issues of racialization, longer histories of race-based violence, the racial politics of social media, and the shifting terrain of contemporary activism.

This process forced us to think about the challenges of being not just fast writers but fast ethnographers. How can we speak to fast moving stories while still retaining the contextualization, historical perspective, and attention to individual experiences characteristic of a fieldworker? Also, how can we engage with emerging digital platforms like Twitter with the comparative and ethnographic perspective characteristic of our discipline?

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2015 at 7:34 pm

[META] On technical problems and the future


Unfortunately, due to technical issues–a laptop that was sent back to the manufacturer for repairs, a desktop that is no longer working, a tablet that is a bit wonky–the frequency and nature of my posts here may be limited. I’ll try to keep things up, but I can’t make any promises.

For technical reasons, posting to my WordPress account is likely to be rather easier than posting to my Livejournal. A Bit More Detail’s address there is


In the meantime, if you have any suggestions as to future content at A Bit More Detail, please leave them in the comments field. Thanks!


Written by Randy McDonald

March 23, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Meta, Non Blog, Writing

Tagged with , , ,


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