What This Website Is Not
Brian Gongol

Of the many things that Gongol.com is, it is not a blog.

It differs in genesis

I started Gongol.com (and its predecessors leading back as far as 1998) for four reasons:
  1. Much of my class time between 1997 and 2001 in the undergraduate Electronic Media program at UNI was spent in computer labs. Since that period was also the initial heyday of the Internet, there were plenty of sites with fantastic content available for free. I wanted a place to store my links, and I couldn't do that if I was never sure to use the same computer twice. The first generation of links were saved on the Best Links page until it just grew too large.

  2. I had a dot-matrix printer attached to my personal computer. The University had laser printers which I could use for free. Given the choice, I wanted to print my papers on the better printer. The Research Section started this way. In fact, much of what I learned about search-engine optimization came from watching accidental traffic drive visitors to my paper on the Clayton Anti-Trust Act. That paper is still singlehandedly responsible for 5% of all traffic to Gongol.com.

  3. I needed a method for preparing class presentations. I didn't want to pay for PowerPoint, and I didn't think it was that effective a presentation tool, anyway. So I learned HTML and some basic Flash animation and put my presentations on my website. My senior thesis on radio industry consolidation was the biggest event of that sort.

  4. Recall that in 2000, there were no free e-mail services offering 250 Mb inboxes. I needed a place to put large files, and the website's FTP capabilities were just what the doctor ordered.
It differs in form

You will note that this is one of the few pages anywhere on Gongol.com written in the first person. Whereas most blogs are intensely personal, this website has never been about "me" communicating to "you." It has always been a place for the rest of the world to quietly look over my shoulder. Site enhancements like the Gongol.com RSS feed have been added strictly by specific demand.

Someone else has said it vastly better than I: Even the most popular bloggers often fail the "boring man in a bar" test, and it's a trap created by communicating in the first person.

In an effort not to be boring, many bloggers pad their content with an outrageous habit: Stealing other people's work, especially news content and images. Anything more than a couple of sentences is intellectual-property theft. Since the purpose of this site is to satisfy me alone, I have no compulsion to thieve other people's work.

It differs in function

No trackbacks. No comment threads. Just a simple contact page. Other people are fine with sharing their space. I'm not. I like comments, but those are for me to appreciate personally. I want to be able to say that I am completely responsible for every byte of content on this site. In fact, when I started this site in 2000, those technologies weren't even available. Since they weren't needed in the beginning, and since they don't suit the present vision, there will be no change on the horizon.

For the record, the prospects for anything resembling public feedback are actually getting worse, since China is apparently turning to active propaganda techniques in comment-spam (follow the comment thread in the link and guess the Communist party hack). And when free-riders come along and complain about what you write about, even when you're someone like Greg Mankiw, well, why open the door to that kind of anonymous criticism? The Internet is already full of places where anonymous cowards can misspell my name and call me a "fascist."

It differs in purpose

I may no longer be in school, but I still drift among lots of different computers, so the original link archive retains its purpose. And while I'm no longer writing papers for graded classes, I am writing a book. Some of the book's content is in public sections of this website, some of it is not. You'll have to buy it when it comes out. And though I don't give presentations for grades anymore, I do have to prepare for a Sunday-night talk show and a Saturday-afternoon technology showcase. This site is the primary way in which I organize my thoughts for each of those shows week after week.

More than anything, though, I use what I write here to help refine how I think about things. When I start from a premise, the essay usually ends up in the Opinion Section. When I start from a question, it lands in the Research Section. Naturally, no such system is perfect, but it's by far the best I have to work with.

So, in conclusion...

Some blogs are good. Some are great. Others outstanding. Many are practically worthless. But this is not a blog.