Four years at

Today is the fourth anniversary of my move to It’s become customary on this date to reflect on the “state of the blog”.

First, the statistics: 783 posts (about one every two days on average) and 1 550 comments. Not to mention the 96 722 “comments” that we’ve been saved from by Akismet! Thanks Akismet.

Of course, I’ve been around online longer than 4 years. Like many other people, I started with static HTML websites back in about 1996. I guess my life of online interaction began at Nodalpoint where, if you wish, you can find a terribly dull entry from me dated September 15 2001. Nodalpoint started out as more of a discussion forum than a blog network but at some stage, we reconfigured the site to display posts by users as the primary content and so it became a blogging collective.

My first personal blog experiment was an installation of Blosxom, on a work server. I had in mind a kind of online research diary – not one covering the specific details, more of a “general thoughts that occur to me as I go along” approach. It was not widely read (nor was it meant to be) – frankly, I was amazed whenever I discovered that someone read it and even more so when they left a comment. One of those early readers was, I believe, the one and only @mndoci.

From there I moved to a local WordPress installation which, inexplicably, I decided to integrate with a popular CMS of the time named Joomla. This ran for about three years, until changing jobs forced my move to hosted WordPress in 2006.

There’s currently a lot of online discussion around what it means to be a “science blogger” in 2010. I’m not a science blogger – I’m a scientist who has a blog. My style has altered over the years: it used to consist largely of “random thoughts”, which I don’t think works very well. I think I’ve settled on what I do best: the more technical article written as a “how-to” or tutorial, usually covering some aspect of programming as applied to a problem in bioinformatics. I think I’ve stayed close to my original idea of a blog as a research diary: not one that includes details of my day-to-day work, more of a voyage of discovery as I learn and apply new tools for the first time. I’ll add here that joining R-bloggers has been very helpful, both in developing that style and finding a whole new source of traffic.

Like everyone else, I find other outlets clamouring for my attention these days, particularly FriendFeed (because I like it) and Twitter (under duress). This year though, I’ve started to enjoy both writing blog posts and reading those of others – there is I think, something more substantial and satisfying about a piece of writing into which someone has put a lot of thought and effort. So I’ll be here, blogging “as and when”, for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to all of you who have read, commented and helped to improve posts over the years – you know who you are.

3 thoughts on “Four years at

  1. Ah how times fly. Reading your blog and getting to know you virtually (even if you don’t exist) has been one of the best parts of being online and reading the written word.

  2. Oh Lord – has it really been that long since nodalpoint? Slashdot for molecular biology was the original rallying cry, wasn’t it?

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