One month in English

The Blogvember challenge ends today. Here are the few thoughts I gathered doing it.

I decided to spend one month writing in English, one article a day, on a dare.

Writing every day is hard

Here are the articles I wrote during November:

  1. Symbols of capitalism (1 November)
  2. AMP, and why I don’t like it (2 November)
  3. Meaningful time (3 November)
  4. Digital legacy, so far (4 November)
  5. Boxes of books (5 November)
  6. X-Men: a mirror to society (6 November)
  7. Photographic glossary (7 November)
  8. Plane oil (8 November)
  9. Oh, the pain (9 November)
  10. Stop motion (10 November)
  11. The Winter Guest, Alan Rickman (11 November)
  12. “Enjoy it while they’re young” (12 November)
  13. Doing interviews (13 November)
  14. Fast typing (14 November)
  15. Crawling to pubs (15 November)
  16. Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg (16 November)
  17. (real-life hiatus)
  18. Accepting one’s disability (18 November)
  19. There was a time… (19 November)
  20. Firefox 57, from a demanding user’s point of view (that’s me) (20 November)
  21. What others know about us (21 November)
  22. Wiped (22 November)
  23. Friendships and respect (23 November)
  24. Reproduction (24 November)
  25. Another reason why I love Firefox (25 November)
  26. Instagramification (26 November)
  27. Writing an extension for Firefox (27 November)
  28. (real-life hiatus)
  29. WAI-Tools Open Meeting, 29 November 2017 (29 November)
  30. The article you’re reading now

(As you can see, I skipped two occurrences, both because of quality time. I decided that blogging is still a hobby even with a self-imposed constraint and spending time with people I love is more important.)

I pride myself as someone who usually writes a lot: every day I write personal and professional emails, I spend time on personal (Mastodon) and professional (Twitter, Jive) social networks, I chat (IRC for personal use, Mattermost and Skype for professional use). But writing articles every day? One has to be crazy. I know that Karl and David for instance managed to do it for a number of years (and Franck is still doing it), and I can’t figure out how they managed the stunt. I cheated a few times by writing 3 articles in advance because I knew I wouldn’t be available on said day.

Writing every day yields lower quality content (your mileage may vary)

I forced myself to write and sometimes took the shortest road: back to personal blogging! It was easily done but the final article was not interesting.

Regularity taxes quality, and you can’t be as inspired every day as you’d wish.

The main thing was, I hoped to hear about malaproprisms or better expressions in English. It’s a semi-success: I had to use a dictionary a few times, so I consolidated a few words [1]. Again here, laziness commands that you write with the tools you have at your disposal, so I didn’t find any astounding new way of saying something. Ah, too bad: the challenge is fulfilled by the simple fact that I did it.

I was also faced with the fact that English is not my native tongue, so my style is a bit lighter than in French for lack of fluency — and it’s not a bad thing either.

Did social networks kill blogging and RSS? Not so much, but weights shifted

I’ve added a few RSS feeds to my aggregator lately (liferea), and couldn’t help but note how sparse the landscape has become. Social networks and social writing platforms are easier: you write what’s on your mind and click, it’s live. No publishing process, no jumping through hoops to tag content (hash-and-go), and a guaranteed audience (on paper).

Did I mention a very high volatility and a very low-quality searchability, not to mention walled gardens and data harvesting?

Anyway. Pet peeve, don’t mind me.

Writing regularly still does the trick: the number of daily referrers slowly goes up (not much, mind you, and considering more than half are link spam bots or search engine spiders). Incoming links seemed to even up with porn spambots, for a change!

The big surprise comes from the RSS front:

  • several Tiny Tiny RSS;
  • apparently Netvibes and Feedly are still a thing for RSS reading;
  • there still must be a lot of desktop-based RSS readers at large, but I can’t count them through referrers, so you guess is as good as mine;
  • several other web-based and link-sharing clients appeared on my radar, like Shaarli and even plain old-style links from blogs! Would you believe it!


So, it was an interesting experience. It confirmed that I couldn’t write blog posts every day for more than a dozen of days, that I don’t handle well self-inflicted constraints, but it also forced me at times to become much more personal here than I had been for years. I wrote longer posts than I expected, and had to give my natural laziness a good kick in the butt, which is a very good thing.

I still have a few articles in draft mode in English that will pop up soon (sooner or later). It’s too early to decide if I’ll do another Blogvember next year (or October to stick to Austin Kleon [2]), or if I’ll go back to the early days of this blog when I wrote much more in English than nowadays.

(Also, read about Franck’s own take at Blogvember: bravo Franck! He notes his English may be sufficient to be able to survive anywhere where English is spoken, and that’s enough for most of us. Don’t ask me to blog in any other language than English, let alone survive anywhere where English is not spoken!)

(Also-also, Sophie decided to give it a try, but she told me that she would need a daily theme. Let’s think about it next time, if there is a next time.)

Oh and next March, this website will be twenty. Take that and cry, social networks!

And now Log off, mute all, and carry on.


[1I did learn that I use too many –ing and worked on that.

[2He wrote about his October blogging but I can’t lay my hands on his post right now. Too bad.


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