Friday, December 25, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: My Blogging Methodology

Hello, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all.

I wanted to write a quick little note about how I blog, when I blog and why I blog; if you find this a bit repetitive please bare with me.

A few years back I was sitting in a hotel room at the Paris airport and I decided right then and there that I was going to be more open. But what did I mean by “more open”?

Well, I wanted to share. Share my experiences living in China. Share my experiences documenting China. Convey my experiences as a documentary photographer trying to eek out a living in this most competitive of environments. When I spoke with people I’d met during my travels everyone had always said that I should write a book, and while that my indeed happen one day, today I’d prefer to focus on the blog as less direction is needed and I have the chance to maintain an ongoing dialog about work and life in the Middle Kingdom.

So I had decided to be more open, but how. These are mighty questions. Obliviously I didn’t want to get too much in to my personal life, I’m happily married, and while my career causes certain stains in most of my close relationships there is no immanent threat of leading a long and lonely life.

What about my career, how open would I be about that? Well, this is a bit more hairy. No one likes someone who kisses and tells and no one likes to be singled out. So I decided that I would blog about jobs, after the fact, and never mention whom the client is. For those very curious blog readers it is easy enough to piece it all together if you really want to, but I am assuming that we all have better things to do. I also decided that while I may indeed write blogs while on assignments I wouldn’t publish them until at least a week or two later. My reasoning for this is because I don’t want my blog to be overly emotional or filled with too many minute details about working in China. I would like my blog to read like a smooth and somewhat sophisticated reflection on work and life in China. So even while I write sometimes on the road I often wait a few days and re-read and re-write some sections after some reflection. I don’t want to be in the business of writing news reports or reporting from the field. I would prefer something subtler and more well constructed, something that could perhaps be used for a book some day.

And, how would I blog? Well, I’ve chosen Blogspot as my blog host and this has both positives and negatives. Blogspot is owned by Google and seems to work seamlessly in to my workflow, being a Gmail junky, but the problem is that Blogspot is completely blocked in China. So in order to post I need to bypass the Great Firewall of China, and that means that I need to invest in a decent VPN that continually is improving their functions and features and allows me to post at will, for that I’ve turned to Witopia.

And when do I blog? Well, I’m married and I travel a ton. So my lovely wife and get a bit pissed if I come back from a 7 day trip and the first thing I want to do is avoid her and blog about my war stories. So I tend to blog most when on the road. I try to always write at least one blog each I am in an airport, I find it an incredibly good use of time given that most people think that time wasted in airport lounges kills efficiency. But it is amazing what I can get done with a pair of Noise Canceling headphone from Bose and my laptop. I also often write blogs that are not time sensitive, like this one, and pre-set the posting date for weeks in advance. I see this as a chance to continue to publish original material even though I may be incredibly busy or traveling in a remote place that week.

And lastly, how often to I blog? Well I’ve cut back to posting just one blog per week. But I often write several blogs a week add them to the cue to be published. Several months ago I was publishing 2-3 times a week but it wasn’t sustainable. I have a lot to say, but not that much. It’s important to note here that I try not to publish other people’s material on my blog, meaning that I rarely cut and paste or link to the work of others. I would like my blog to be as original as possible, my voice to the outside world only. But I often copy and link to work that I’m a co-collaborator in, such as my “New Work” notices, or articles and information that I find to be unbelievably interesting and important. Apart from that, I try to provide the narrative, and I think my life is interesting enough to generate content for that. I hope my readers approve. Upwards and onwards!

Ryan Pyle

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This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle