My best unpublished drafts of 2011

The way things go with kids and life and work and all that these days, I’m not having any sort of big “this year I’m going to get back to blogging” feeling right about now.

Too busy. Find me on Twitter. Maybe I’ll use Tumblr more. Maybe not.

Which brings us to a list, not of my most popular blog posts of last year (and really, who has the ego for that in 2012?) — but rather, of my best unpublished drafts.

Be inspired.

1. My ultimate journalism hacker masters program (April)

Looks like this was a response to a Dave Stanton survey of some sort. I might have responded in his form. Maybe. Here’s a key quote from the unpublished draft: “Media Theory for Online Journalism: Diffusion and adoption theory, organizational psychology, and the…” That’s really it. It trails off right there. Nothing after the “the.”

2. The thing about the redesigns nobody asks for (July)

Remember that unsolicited redesign of a few pages on that one guy posted with a lot of negative attitude tied to it? Yeah, people like me really loved that. (Pretend I wrote loved in that fancy new sarcasm reverse italic treatment, naturally.) If I could somehow find what I tweeted about back in July, I would embed it here. Somehow.

3. ONA11 takeaways and unpublished tweets (September)

ONA in, uh, wherever it was, was great this year. (Was that Boston? Seriously.) I took some great pen-and-paper notes while trying really hard to be physically and mentally present in sessions, and not burying my face in my laptop or phone until the Google News team announced something sort of interesting while standing right in front of me. (Standout.)

But really, I was having a great time, writing things down, and got the idea to write down some things I might want to tweet later. Never published. One fun bit involved sitting behind @nytjim and watching his workflow in Tweetdeck while a big news story of some sort was breaking during a keynote talk, or something.

4. The new cameras (October)


5. In which you help me prioritize some unnecessary home electronics purchases that likely won’t happen anytime soon (December)

In which I think better of publishing a plea for advice on our first high definition television, blu-ray thingie player enabled with some Internets so we can watch old TV on Netflix, and maybe some sort of Airplay speaker, but do we need that if the blu-ray thingie player with Internets gets Pandora? This stuff is hard, guys.

6. My best unpublished dra





I’m strongly leaning toward dropping the “Invisible Inkling” brand from this blog entirely, in an effort to appear moderately less pretentious.

I am fully aware that using three adverbs in the previous sentence — and writing it at all, not to mention this one, makes it difficult to make the “less pretentious” argument with any level of confidence, so let’s just pretend you didn’t read that part.

Reaching back into the archives of this here blog, it looks like the switch from “Ryan Sholin’s J-School Blog” to “Invisible Inkling” happened in September 2006 when I was done with most of my graduate school classes and had started looking for a full-time job. I suppose I wanted this thing to appear to be a bit *more* professional, and thus, dropped the j-school reference so I wouldn’t look like an undergraduate of some sort. (No offense.)

From the bit I wrote about “so what’s an inkling, anyway?” that day:

“The newspaper business is changing, and so is journalism education, and so are the technological paradigms that supposedly mark the boundaries of both. So, as the nineteenth-century rapid/mass communication method of ink-on-paper dries up, it’s time to go stand under the waterfall of clues, open your mouth and your ears, and see how the information flows.”

Writing! Yay. OK, so I think we’re all in agreement that I can drop the double-I brand, and put something succinct and to the point like, say, my name in the top-left corner of my blog.

Plus, I’m sure children’s book author Emily Jenkins and Harper Collins will be pleased.

A brief history of January

With all the blogging I’ve been doing so far this month, a few of you have given me strange looks or short notes to the effect of “Hey, didn’t know you were still writing on that thing, ha ha.”

Right. Well. Don’t get too excited.

Just before I completely corrupted the data by importing more than 2,500 Delicious links as blog posts, I took a quick count, by month, of all the posts on this blog since I started it way back in February 2005 as a freshly minted graduate student in Mass Communications at San Jose State University.

And lately, January is big deal. Clearly, I have a New Year’s resolution problem.

Onward to the data, visualized as the most boring Excel bar chart in the history of boring bar charts.

Aside from the obvious fact that 2009 and 2010 were pretty dark years around this URL, a few amusing data points:

  • January has been my most prolific month, historically, and the top month for 2010 and 2009. In 2010, this was definitely a resolution issue.
  • As for the other spikes: In May 2005, the last month of my first semester in graduate school, and first semester as a blogger, I just plain wrote a lot. This was definitely a phase where I would link to someone else’s post and express my own opinion as it related to the topic at hand. Pretty basic blogging stuff. But In February 2006, I was importing Delicious links automatically, grouped together in a single post per day if I had saved anything new. Some people still do this, but I don’t really care for it. So that month’s numbers are a bit padded.
  • In June 2007, the all-time page view champion on this here website, I only published 11 posts, making it a mid-range month, ranked 36 of 73.
  • The 15 months with the fewest posts were all in 2009 and 2010.
  • Other than January 2005, which I included here with a zero because I think that’s when I wrote my first post or two on the original Blogspot blog where this all originated, there are no zeroes on this list. That’s right, even in the throes of whatever overarching busy-ness was keeping me away from regular blogging, I managed to get one in every month. That was a surprise to me.

The real trick, of course, is keeping up the pace when January’s over.

We’ll see.

Reintroducing Newstangle, or How I learned to stop worrying and love my blog

Let’s skip the usual rambling, expository introduction and get to the lists:

  1. Delicious is dying. Or it isn’t. Or it is. Depends on who you ask, I suppose.
  2. I like saving and tagging and sharing links. You may have noticed I worked for a company that made some tools to do that sort of thing.
  3. I’m having a hard time trusting any of the also-ran social bookmarking sites with my data.
  4. For a long time now, I’ve had intentions to implement some form of WordPress “Asides” on my blog, to use in conjunction with the “Press This” bookmarklet for light linkblogging.

The desired outcome:

  1. A handsome little way to display Asides on my blog. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just call all the “Asides” posts something like “Newstangle.”
  2. All of my Delicious links, minus some outdated stuff, imported to WordPress as posts with their tags intact.
  3. Some light repair and merging of tags.
  4. A page displaying all my Newstangle posts and tags in some sort of useful, browsable way.
  5. Perhaps a search box just for the Newstangle content.
  6. To send out automatic-ish tweets when I post a Newstangle link that lead to the link in question, and not my blog post about it.
  7. To point at the Newstangle links over here.

So far: I’m done with steps 1, 2, 3, and 7. Halfway done with 4, really.

Not bad for an over-coffee-and-breakfast project, right?


  • AsideShop for a pretty easy way to implement a version of Asides without messing around with templates. I’m a sucker for any plugin that lets me use tokens like %post_permalink% with my own markup, rather than getting too deep into PHP copy/paste missions.
  • The particular Delicious to WordPress Importer I used was an updated version of this one, and predated this other one, which even comes with a handy theme to make it more like Delicious. Your mileage will definitely vary.
  • Batch Cat to help clean up some of the damage I did importing more than 2,500 links to my default post category, which I actually use.
  • Tag Managing Thing, an oldie-but-a-goodie plugin for editing, merging, and deleting post tags.
  • And when I get around to adding some interesting tag listing ont he Newstangle category page, I might use some variation of the cool back-of-the-book index-style Archives template that came with my new Basic Maths theme.

It remains to be seen, of course, if I can stick with it, posting short links and notes on a regular basis, mixing in longer posts — perhaps about something other than this blog at some point — more frequently than I have of late.

Now then. What’s all this I hear about Flickr?

Basic Maths for Invisible Inkling

Believe it or not, I’ve redesigned this blog, yet again.

Well, sort of.

Ahem, more accurate:

Believe it or not, I purchased the Basic Maths WordPress theme by Khoi Vinh and Allan Cole.

So here’s the deal. I’m tired of redesigning this blog. For more than five years, yes, it’s been my primary — albeit periodic — sandbox to learn and practice my thin layer of front-end skills. But that process also became an excuse not to write.

“Oh, yes, I’ll definitely get back to blogging lots as soon as I finish the redesign! It’s going to be awesome!”

No. It might have been “awesome” in some theoretical corner of my mind, but what it would never be was “finished.”

So rather than fool myself yet again, as I had started to do with a modified Twenty-Ten theme that I was not nimble enough to set up as a child theme, leading to the tearing of garments and gnashing of the teeth when a recent WordPress update included updates to Twenty-Ten’s stylesheet… I have opted to drop a really small number of dollars for a wildly valuable and handsome theme.

Which I have already begun to customize, but not much. And as a child theme. Lesson learned.

For those of you too lazy to click through from Google Reader, a glance:

There are still plenty of tweaks I want to make, one at a time, over my morning coffee, for the most part, but I like where this is going.

I have a rough notion of how to use WordPress/PressThis/Asides/widgets to produce an interesting stream of the sort of short link-and-comment posts that I’ve used Delicious/Publish2/Instapaper for over the last several years, so stay tuned for a barrage of little things along those lines.

And honest, more actual writing.

With any luck, this blog post is the first in a series on some stuff I’m doing as 2011 starts, to reduce the amount of guilt I let orbit around my skull and the Internets. Actually, it’s the second post in the series, which includes the bit about shutting down ReportingOn.

Where we write, where we blog, where we share

Yes, this is going to be one of the posts where the person writing says something along the lines of: “Gee, I don’t really blog much anymore. You should follow me on Twitter.”

Sorry about that in advance.

At the beginning of this year, I resolved to “write more, but not here,” where “here” equalled Twitter.

Didn’t really happen.

Efforts to blog every day trailed off and failed, and in all honesty, I’ve had plenty of good excuses, given the busy-ness of buying a house, having another kid, and switching jobs, in that order.

When I started this blog, in its first incarnation, days after starting grad school, I followed a simple formula that lasted for a long time: Read blogs, link to them, react to them. I’ve done some original writing from time to time, sure, but so much of what I think of as “blogging” is about the read-link-react/debate/dispute/fisk space.

And that’s fine and good and necessary and conversational.

But I do most of that on Twitter these days.

And when it comes to sharing personal stuff (we moved! we had a kid! we bought the house!), most of that lives on Facebook, where I have more control (believe it or not) over who sees what.

Throw Foursquare and Instagram into the mix — and for legacy photo sharing from my dSLR workflow, Flickr — and I’m able to pretty selectively share what I’m doing, what it looks like, who I’m with, and how I feel about it.

So what’s this blog for?

I suppose its best remaining purpose is as a professional-looking archive of everything I’m thinking about next. More about the future, less about the present. Not engaging in the daily volleys of what passes for current future-of-news events (Wikileaks, #3 on your list is wrong/right/different, it’s a paywall/not a paywall, etc.) but writing now and then about the advances and movements in media and technology that seem to be just past the horizon.

That’s a goal, anyway. I won’t call it a resolution, but it’s a direction.

Now if I could just find some time to write…

…or maybe you should just follow me on Twitter.