On Starting Again, Earth-Scorching, and Legacy

You’re familiar with the scorched earth concept, right? Wikipedia says it’s a military strategy where a retreating force destroys anything in their path that might be useful to the enemy. It’s this idea that if the enemy captures that territory, it’ll be useless to them. The scorched earth concept is mostly applied to retreating forces since there’s a higher likelihood the enemy will capture that land anyway, but here’s the rub: it can also be used for advancing forces, too.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of starting an entirely new blog in my head over the past week. Not just “Benny Ling’s Bling 2.0”, but something entirely new and fresh.

On the one hand, the idea of starting again is exciting. Leaving all the old stuff behind so there’s no baggage, nothing tying me down or holding me back. Free to explore new horizons, a place to write about stuff I find exciting and things I’m enthusiastic about, and so on.

On the other hand, I’m the kind of person that would feel extremely sentimental about all the old stuff I’m leaving behind. I mean, I get sad throwing away parts of my childhood, even stuff that I have absolutely no rational use for today or in the future, stuff that I haven’t touched for years. There’s quite a number of posts here that are nothing more than short sentences on a particular topic — which is great, sure, but compared to some of my longer pieces?

When I first started this blog I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be a Tumblr-style reblog-fest where I’d repost any old trash from my social network, or whether I wanted it to be only about my writing. At first it was the former, and for a little while, I wrote a few bits here and there about cool things. But somewhere along the way I must have decided that maintaining such a blog was either daunting/exhausting/too-much-work or all of the above, because I soon stopped posting about stuff I had written and simply linked to stuff online that I thought was cool.

And don’t get me wrong, I still think most of that stuff is cool and/or worth your time, it’s just that, well, is my blog the right place for it?1 Do I want that stuff to have the same permanence as the stuff I’m proud of, the stuff that I’ve written personally? Stuff like my gaming reviews, pieces on why iOS is kicking Android’s butt, and putting together home servers.

Which is why I’m drawn back to this idea of starting again, and having a place for just my writing. It’ll mean less updates, even more sporadically than they currently are, but maybe — hopefully — it’ll mean an increase in quality.

There’s only a few questions that remain to be answered: where does all the cool stuff go? The stuff that perhaps isn’t worthy of a 1800-word introspective on why you should be playing The Walking Dead, but maybe just a link to a cool page on Wikipedia, or maybe a cool video. I doubt there’s any good answer to this question: maybe a Tumblr is a good idea, maybe just posting links on Twitter is a good option, too.

Secondly, if I was to start again, what would happen to this blog? I’d want to take at least the pieces I’m proud to have my name on, for example, the longer pieces on technology and gadgets, the Pokémon renaissance, and whatever else.

There’s no way I’d be able to throw it all away, employing the scorched earth concept and nuke it from orbit, because I’m attached to that stuff. A lot of it might be complete trash, but it’s my trash — and throwing it all out would be heartbreaking. It’s my legacy. Like I said, I’m a pretty sentimental guy.

Which brings us to the last point: I’ve also been thinking about the stuff that I’ve written thus far. I don’t have a copy of all my writings on my computer — I can backup my blog, but what about stuff I’ve posted to MacTalk? Not forum posts, but the news, reviews, and opinion pieces? I’ve started thinking about ways to back that stuff up — it’s mostly the actual words I’m concerned with, but there has to be some automated way for that to be backed up someplace that isn’t MacTalk. Backing it up online is fine, as long asI can get to it easily enough.

Same goes for my writings in other places. What about those? Perhaps it’s just some of my OCD tendencies rising to the surface, but having a separate copy of everything I’ve ever published or written online would be nice. Not essential, but it would be nice — for historical purposes, to see how better (or worse) I’ve become as a writer over the years.

I mean, think about it: I’d be genuinely upset if all my “work” suddenly disappeared overnight. It isn’t likely to happen, but what if it does? People delete blogs all the time, and someone out there is probably only a mis-click away from losing a good chunk of my online self.

It’s this legacy I’m concerned with. That online stuff is my legacy, and there’s got to be an easy way to back it all up. I’ve got a few ideas about backing up any new stuff, but what about the old? Do I have to manually hunt down old URLs and put them into Evernote, or what?


For the record, I’m not sure I’ll be starting a new blog any time soon, but the idea is appealing on a number of different levels. I enjoy the feeling of getting my thoughts on a particular subject down, and writing is great for that — it’s just that I just need to do more of it. Now that Uni is over for another year (ah yes, a topic for another time), maybe I’ll get more of a chance to do so.

  1. Then there’s the small voice on my shoulder that says “it’s my blog, I can do whatever the hell I want, publish whatever I want, and post about all the attractive girls I want”. I ignore that voice for the most part, but sometimes, just sometimes, it does make a lot of sense. 

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