10 Years O’ Blogging

So Drew McManus beat me to it, Butts in the Seats turned 10 on Sunday. It was February 23, 2004 when I made my first post. Now here I am nearly 1500 posts later, still going pretty strong.  Back then there weren’t many people blogging about the arts. I actually took my initial inspiration from Andrew Taylor’s Artful Manager blog.

While I started blogging just as the activity and the term blog was starting to enter popular culture, I just came across an article on The Guardian that says blogging is actually 20 years old this year. Though back then, blogs were more akin to personal webpages and diaries where you had to make a conscious, and often complicated, effort to have your posts appear in some sort of chronological order on a webpage. The tools that made it easy to make posts without having to handcode HTML were still many years away.

My first few posts were made on space provided by Earthlink. But after two or three posts, I quickly realized that was not going to work at all and moved over to MovableType.  I joined the Inside the Arts family on December 13, 2007, but still maintained my blog independently on MovableType for some years before moving to WordPress with most of the rest of the Inside the Arts blogs.

There have been a lot of changes in the 10 years I have blogged, both in terms of the subject matter I tackle and my outlook about the arts. But also in terms of some of the metrics that are important to me as a blogger. At one time, I would watch my Technorati rating closely as well as the stock price of my blog on a blog stock exchange I can’t even find anymore. Now I check out trends on Google Analytics and reports via my blog desktop.

I had thought about doing a retrospective of my favorite posts or listing the top most visited posts but ultimately decided not to. I may do so in another context at a later date.

I did want to reflect on the value I think blogging has had relative to my initial motivation for starting the blog. Basically, I was looking for a job when I first started writing my blog. I thought that as an up and coming technology, it would be important for me as an arts professional to be involved in blogging.

Believe it or not, two days after starting my blog I got a call to interview at Wayne State University. I can’t attribute the interview to my starting the blog, though I think there were some people who were intrigued that I had started one. Even though I didn’t get the job, that experience convinced me that I should be blogging about arts management.  I know for a fact that my blogging got me my job in Hawaii and contributed to getting my current job and other interviews. (Spikes in Google Analytics frequently preceded a call, though some times a lack of a call.)

Really, the very act of blogging has helped me develop and evolve my thoughts about the arts and made me better at the jobs I have held, even if none one is reading the posts. It helps if people do read the posts and comment because they contribute their own thoughts and point out weaknesses in my philosophy.

A show just opened in the local museum featuring an artist from the region. He has held to a discipline that he will paint every day and continued to do so even during his honeymoon back in 1956. Looking at his work, you can easily see his technique evolve.

I think it is important for everyone to have that sort of discipline in order to become better at what they do. It isn’t enough to simply do your job day after day. I don’t have to tell you that because you are so closely involved in it, there is little time to stand back and reflect on how to do it better unless you carve the time out for yourself.

For me, part of the time I carve out is invested in writing this blog. Even though I only post about three times a week now, I employ time on other days reflecting, reading, or doing activities to continue my development.

I have no idea if I will still be blogging 10 years from now, but I do believe I will be involved in some sort of daily activity that is continuing my development in whatever area I value.

My thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog on a consistent basis whether you started 10 years ago or 10 days ago. I hope that you will find my writing valuable in the coming years.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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