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A New Look for an Old Blog

I’m not one of those serial-blog-appearance-changers, but every year or so I like to shake things up. I thought that for 2009 I might try something a bit more minimalistic and professional looking. Please share away if you have feelings about how my blog should look.

And while we’re on the subject of blogging here’s a couple quotes about the problems of blogging from Alan Jacobs’ now famous article in Books and Culture:

All in all, a blog is no place for the misanthropically inclined. Charlie Brown used to say, “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand,” and I have discovered that in the blogosphere, people—in Mr. Brown’s subtle sense of the word—are pretty much inescapable. Many’s the time I have found myself hunched over my keyboard, my hands frozen above it, trying to decide which of two replies to make: the one assuming that my interlocutor is morally compromised, or the one assuming that he is invincibly ignorant. In such circumstances it’s always best just to get up and walk away, not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or without charity anyway.

. . .

There is no privacy: all conversations are utterly public. The arrogant, the ignorant, and the bullheaded constantly threaten to drown out the saintly, and for that matter the merely knowledgeable, or at least overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And the architecture of the blog (and its associated technologies like rss), with its constant emphasis on novelty, militates against leisurely conversations. It is no insult to the recent, but already cherished, institution of the blogosphere to say that blogs cannot do everything well. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought.

Well, here’s to being friends of information then, and hopefully maybe a little bit more.

25 Comments

  1. Roger Flyer wrote:

    I disagree with this. I have found life and some transformational theology on this blog and a few select others that have helped me find a community of life in the ‘virtual’ woods.I’m grateful for the ignorant, the bullheaded and the saints and somedays I couldn’t tell you who is who.

    Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
    mi retrovai per una selva oscura,
    che la diritta via era smarrita.

    In the middle of the journey of our life
    I found myself in a dark wood,
    for the straight way was lost.

    -Dante

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    I agree, Roger. In fact I think there might be a tinge of elitism to Jacobs’ article. But its still good stuff for bloggers to think about on some levels.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Jason wrote:

    Jacobs is right. With regard to theoblogs, they may work for the theobloggers, but not those making comments. The blogger gets to take time to think about topics before posting, but we who merely comment on other blogs only have a short time in which to digest the argument and offer a response. If we did take the requisite time to do justice to a post we would have to search the archives in order to make our comments. As a result we offer ill-construed (first draft!) comments, we misread the thoughts of others and respond with unnecessary fire. If blogs are meant to make room for conversation something needs to change. We converse solely with and thus lose the ability to nuance our untidy words with a grin or a wink they way we would if we were conversing in person. But we also lack the time to inject that nuance into our naked words. I hope that the shape of blogs changes a little so that we can converse, and not just stutter our misreadings, misrepresentations, and misinformation.

    On the layout, I have to admit that I preferred the old layout. This one looks too much like a newspaper and not enough like a website.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  4. Jason wrote:

    Argh. I cannot edit my comment. Above should read “We converse solely with text…”

    … I’m going to go read a book.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  5. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Very “professional looking.”:) Perhaps you could shrink the massive header down a bit?

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  6. Roger Flyer wrote:

    Jason. Insert emoticons to nuance your posts… like this ;)

    see then everything is sympatico.

    I hear what you are saying, though.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  7. Dale wrote:

    good clean design! though I agree the header size could possibly be reduced a bit – always enjoy the posts – cheers

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  8. Hill wrote:

    I have to chime in in protest. It’s much more difficult to see the useful information. For instance, I can’t even tell if there are new comments to a post without clicking on it and I have to scroll down 3 miles to get to the “recent comments” section (my favorite). Aesthetically, I like the new look a lot, but it is a lot more difficult to use and wastes a lot of space. You could probably stand to increase the size of the Inhabitatio Dei header by at least 200%.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  9. I think it looks nice but is much less intuitive than the old one. But whatever works!

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  10. Brad E. wrote:

    I’m a new reader and was blown away by the old look when I came upon it just last week. So for my take, while I understand the change-up and how it does look more professional, the lack of art and color, with all of the links at the bottom, doesn’t stand out the way the older look did.

    Or maybe I’m just slow to change. Either way, the blog is great.

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  11. Chris Donato wrote:

    Yes. Header reduced a notch or two. And something about three entries facing me all at the top — I’m not comfortable with that. But the general feel is great. Neat and tidy.

    Also, I think I get Jacobs’ point. I’ve never read anything in the blogosphere (that hasn’t been published [and thus vetted] or is going to be published) that I’ve found even remotely necessary for life in any serious sense. Helpful only occasionally. Fun and pleasurable, absolutely (but this can be found in numerous other places).

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  12. Bobby Grow wrote:

    Halden said:

    I’m not one of those serial-blog-appearance-changers, . . .

    Hey, watch it, I don’t like your tone ;-) !

    I like this template, I was actually going to use it at one time, but my wife changed my mind (maybe if you had one of those you wouldn’t have this template either . . . I don’t know ;-) .

    I think the content is the most important thing on a blog anyway, and that the shape, color, style, etc. etc. isn’t all that important (as long as you like it — i.e. the narcissism that makes the blogosphere go round and round). Keep up the thought provoking posts, Halden . . . even though I often disagree with you, you’re still one of my favorite bloggers, and the disagreements are probably why you’re one of my favorites . . . so keep it up, you gnostic :-) !

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 3:16 am | Permalink
  13. Phil Sumpter wrote:

    If I may … I preferred the older format. I found it more aesthetic and it gave me a better overview. Not that this format will stop me reading, however!

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 3:46 am | Permalink
  14. David wrote:

    I like the new design, although the bottom half of the page is extremely busy and adds little value. Could you do separate pages for ‘Archives/Articles’, ‘Links’, and ‘Resources’?

    That would be much easier to navigate, and have the added bonus of making your blog much cleaner.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:41 am | Permalink
  15. Roger Flyer wrote:

    I do like speaking in bubbles. It’s appropriate for most of our comments. Do you think you could find one that has thought bubbles instead of the speech template? I was just thinking…

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  16. Halden wrote:

    You guys are right. Screw this. I’m going to find something else or go back to the old one.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  17. Halden wrote:

    Ok, now we can breath easy. No more feeling like we’re in an alternate universe.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  18. Hill wrote:

    So much better. Sometimes change is good, but this layout is a wonderful blend of great aesthetics and high information density.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  19. Halden wrote:

    Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to find a better one until I get one of my programming-savvy friends to make me my own.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  20. Roger Flyer wrote:

    Change is hard. Status quo good.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  21. bobby grow wrote:

    Oh man . . . I think change (dynamism) is good, and status quo (static) is just that — but hey, I understand, it’s your blog.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink
  22. Halden wrote:

    I like the dynamism on my blog to be derived from the frequent production of posts. :)

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  23. bobby grow wrote:

    Touche’, Halden . . . so then you’re saying that your theme is the ousia, and your posts are the hypostasis that give shape to the ousia (and vice versa)?

    Sorry, just trying to stay on the “theoblogging” theme of this thread ;-) .

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
  24. This is better :)

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  25. Roger Flyer wrote:

    I feel safe in the womb now.

    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

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