Start Blogging! In the Blogosphere!

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Posted by Andrew Cheungon January 30, 2015

Now for something completely different.

One of my resolutions for 2015 was to start a blog. Another, helpfully suggested by master blogger and senior team member Jewel Loree, was to get more involved with the online Tableau Public community.

Sharing my thought process about starting a blog seemed like a great way to help people who also want to start blogging *cough* fellow team member Sophie Sparkes *cough*, and help readers get to know me.

Perhaps this post will help guide you to a useful and convenient blogging service. Or maybe it will just be entertaining. Either way, read on to see one thought process on starting a blog.

Behold, the blogosphere.

Blogging. Blogosphere. I’ve always wanted to use the word blogosphere in a blog post, because it sounded so absurd every time I’d hear it. Turns out, the term was coined as a joke.

My first and only foray into blogging was a short-lived Tumblr created with friends, called Rich Idea Notebook. It is a record of ridiculous ideas we’d record to execute in the 0.001% chance that one of us made more money than we could possibly spend in a thousand lifetimes. Like many Tumblrs, we created it for our own amusement, with no intention to draw a significant audience, and then promptly forgot about it. Mission Accomplished.

“Continually repaint a prominent building such that its hue spans through the rainbow over time." Because everyone deserves a rainbow, rain or shine.

Blogging isn’t quite the novelty craze it used to be. When thinking about starting a Real Blog, I decided to look up LiveJournal, just for kicks. If you remember Life Before Internet, you may recall it was the first reknowned dumping ground for the daily life activities of teenagers across America. Excluding GeoCities.

Now, it’s a popular Russian social network service.

Websites evolve through time, often in unpredictable ways. Purchasing hosting and a domain is the best way to secure a dependable home in the blogosphere and escape the vagaries of blogging services.

But what if some time from now, despite the best intentions, this blog shares the same fate with Rich Idea Notebook?

Granted, hosting and a domain costs all of ~$70 per year, which to some isn’t a huge expense, but it can represent 28% of a winter climbing gym budget. Or 4 days of bluewater cruising aboard a boat share in Indonesia. Or 17.5% of the cost of the17’ sailing catamaran that’s our ride for the qualifying leg of the Race to Alaska:

This was totally worth $400.

All of these activities are ripe with opportunities to gather data and make sweet vizzes to share with folks like you. And I’d rather spend the winter darkness wired up with biometric sensors while pulling plastic than regretting purchasing unnecessary hosting.

Not wanting to put the cart before the horse, a free blogging service seemed like the middle ground. I can always upgrade to a paid hosting solution later. Besides, I haven’t thought of a catchy domain name yet.

After sifting through some search results, Medium stood out for 1) being free, 2) highlighting user content, and 3) having a relatively active community.

“Great, I can eat my free blog cake AND get free exposure without expending extra effort," I thought.

Happily, I signed up and created a test post. Then, there was only sadness.


Medium does not support general embeds--only videos and such from particular services.

I’ve tried both Wordpress and Blogger in the past and while they’re both great, embedding always required some small tweaking here and there to get anything that wasn’t a Youtube video to work right.

Medium was attractive because I didn’t want to spend time futzing around with making posts look pretty--I wanted to spend that effort writing. And of all the free options, the first one to embed a Tableau viz with no extra effort was--you guessed it--Tumblr.

Under the umbrella of Yahoo, I’ll make this my Internet home, until I decide to upgrayyed to a proper blogging service. Maybe it will be Ghost, a service looks promising--like a self-hosted version of Medium, and open source to boot.

Meanwhile, it’s back to contemplating catchy domain names while posing hard in the gym.

“That’s a super old photo of you, Andrew," you might say. Well, it’s really hard to take pictures of yourself while climbing. I’ve only two hands.

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