The 4 Things I Learned About Technology Adoption by Being an Early Blogger

Spydergrrl on the Web turned 6 last week. This hasn't been my only blog, but it is the one with the most staying power. As I was approaching this anniversary, I did a bit of reflection and realized that the process of researching and writing about technology and culture has taught me a lot about the way people perceive emerging trends, as well as the adoption of new ideas and new tools.

How did it all start?

Spydergrrl on the Web is a passion project that has been through several iterations before it became the blog you see before you (or the feed you read in your RSS reader).

Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, I had a very simple website that my brother-in-law hosted on his own personal server. It was static HTML and the homepage featured a GIF of a girl in a business suit spinning and turning into "spydergrrl". The site was simple, mostly to showcase projects I was working on, and to give me a place to try out simple web code as I learned it. And there was a section which was essentially a blog: I used to write monthly updates about things we saw and did, for family who was living hours away. I would send them email updates when new posts went up and the same few dozen people would read them.

Eventually, I killed the site and went on my merry way. I figured that I did enough coding and design at work that I would be better off spending my spare time learning new technologies and immersing myself in general nerd culture that was becoming such a fixture of the World Wide Web.

3 things I learned about technology adoption from blogging so early

As I enter my 7th year of writing about all things tech and geeky, here are some of the observations I've made along the way.
  1. In tech, only people who do what you're doing, understand what you're doing.
    (And most of them are so busy with their own projects, they're probably uninterested in what you're doing. Or they're doing it way better.)
  2. The cutting edge has no permanence. Everything you do eventually becomes embarrassing.
    (It doesn't matter how cutting edge you are right then and there, eventually it will be quaint and adorable.)
  3. Tech doesn't need to be complicated to work.
    (Whatever solution works for you when you need it is the right solution.)
On that last one: case in point, this is a Blogger blog. (Gasp) I customized the design by hand and continue to quietly tweak the layout, categories and design regularly, but ultimately, all I want to do is write. I could mess around with more complicated "real" blogging platforms, but this has been working for 6 years and I am not about to change what works.

The 4th Thing I learned

4. Perception is reality in the Distraction Age. The truth is what everyone else believes it to be.
(The attention deficit of always-on, always connected tech has people sharing content without reading and also has the effect of making people jump to conclusions. Write about a topic a few times and it can become your only message, if you're not careful.)
I had a couple of posts take off in the last year and they started skewing people's perception of my message and my focus. And even worse: of me. Certain topics have bigger online audiences and tend to result in more reach.

Being known for a very small portion of my total content was frustrating. I was starting to feel pigeon-holed despite my efforts.

And then I remembered that if I choose to share my thoughts publicly, I have to be willing to let go: Once my words are in the ether, I have to let go and allow people to interpret them with their own experiences, knowledge and biases. Regardless the outcomes.

And that's probably the scariest lesson to learn. But deep down I already knew: I'm in. I'm all in.

It's amazing what an obsession a hobby can teach you about yourself and other people. Here's to more discovery!