Why Do I Bother?

Last week it came up in conversation at my work during a lunch table get-together that I have a Web site that I post to. Half of the people within hearing range already knew this but it was news to a few. I further mentioned that after almost two years of posting I am only averaging about 50 to 60 unique visitors per day.

After the standard responses like “Oh! You have a site” and “What’s the address I will have a look at it?”, one of the group asked “If you only have 50 visitors per day after two years then why do you bother?”

It’s a good question. Why do I bother?

After thinking about it I think the answer has three components.

Firstly, the way my life has worked out, about the only passionate interest I have left is photography. But, as it happens, even though I now own the best camera I have ever owned and I seem to have more ‘spare’ time than I have ever had, other extremely powerful (mental) factors stop me from doing very much photography—other than to take ‘snaps’ of things so I can post a picture of them here. Such as the ‘snaps’ taken for the Coffee Condoms posting (here).

It is a sad fact that while I have been working away, which has been for about 15 months now, I have taken my camera with me on almost every trip. There is heaps I see that I think would make an amazing picture if captured right. However I have not taken one single photograph on any of these trips. Not one.

When I started this site a big part of my thinking was that I would use it to post some of my photography work, and in a very small way this has happened. There was the shoot involving seriously cute niece back in September 2010. For those that missed these postings the pictures are now all in the gallery section (here). There were also my pictures of the Woodbridge Coal Dam (here) even though these were taken some time previous.

So I sort of keep the site going thinking that at some point I will get around to taking more pictures and will start posting them.

Secondly, sort of following along from the first reason, with all this ‘spare’ time (nobody really has any spare time in their life which is why I keep putting spare in single quotes) I needed to find something stimulating and absorbing to do with it. Otherwise I would go mad thinking about the futility of life and the eventual outcome.

Crafting up site postings keeps the brain ticking over and keeps one’s thoughts away from darker zones (sometimes).

It is kind of hard involved work putting together reasonably easy-to-read articles without too many grammatical or punctuation errors in them. After all, they are going to be ‘published’; in a way, sort of.

Also most postings involve preparing images to be included and I love doing raster editing work. Cropping, adjusting the levels and curves for the best colour impact, resampling and sizing the image just right to fit where it needs to go in the posting while maintaining maximum impact, and putting borders around each image. The best period of my working life was when I was more heavily involved in producing technical documentation and user guides as part of my job.

I have attended many training courses in my time, most of them funded by my employer, but one of the most riveting was a one day course that I paid for myself that was called “Image Preparation for Publishing”. Even though this was back around 1995 and many of the image editing tools have improved beyond belief since then (just look at how Adobe Photoshop has changed since version 7, and CorelDraw, and InDesign) the basics of preparing image for publication are still the same. Rules like always resize/resample your images for your publication before putting them into the publication—never allow the publishing tool, even if it is PowerPoint or Word—to do the resizing itself. Link to images, never embed them. This means when you ‘copy’ your publication you have to copy the linked images as well, but the paybacks are huge. And there are many more but this is not the place to go into all of that.

There is not a single image that goes into one of my posts that has not been ‘optimised’ in some way—with the possible exception of posts done using my notebook when I am travelling. But that would only be about five posts in total. This is because I don’t have useful raster editing tools installed on my notebook because I don’t want to buy additional licenses (for Adobe Photoshop Elements). It is a pity Adobe don’t have some kind of licensing model where you can buy a two-pack or three-pack of licenses for home use computers at a discounted price.

Thirdly, I come across stuff and think of stuff that I just feel the need to share, even if I am only sharing it with about 50 or 60 readers—assuming they/you are evening reading what I post. While the SquareSpace ticker can detect a new visitor, it has no way of knowing if the visitor actually read anything. All the ticker knows is that someone hit the site. They might have just clicked in, read the banner or the heading of the most current post, and then clicked away without reading any content.

Regardless, I get some small satisfaction from from sharing a thought or two here and there. By posting it up it is not only there for people who check it out now but it is there for anyone who does a Web search at any time in the future (assuming Bing and Google continue to index my site). Well at least in the future up until I stop paying SquareSpace to host the site and they close it down. Which could happen sooner rather than later if there really is a GFC version 2 heading our way—as some of the financial experts seem to think.

So I guess that is why I bother … at this stage anyway. It is marginally depressing sometimes that only 50 to 60 very smart and astute people out there in the land of the World Wide Web have discovered my site. I do sometimes have bouts of “why the Sam Hill am I doing this” but I guess until I find something more exciting to do with the time I will probably keep sitting down for hours at a time punching up postings.