January 4, 2018

Happy New Year, 2018

Happy new year, friends! Insert obligatory statement about how time passes really quickly. I swear it was just 2016 and I was swearing to write one article per month for this blog. Looking at the archive, I see I posted six articles in four non-contiguous months. Much better than 2016, where I wrote one article and made one (bad) video. What lies ahead for 2018?

Well, I started this blog in my last year of college because I was worried nobody would hire me upon graduation and I needed a portfolio. I wrote ten articles and ideas for articles and published one of them. My notion for the blog was very vague - I was going to write about linguistics... in "real life." Gretchen McCullough of All Things Linguistic (great person, wonderful blog, please check it out) had cornered the market on "fun linguistics for linguists," but I thought linguistics could be made understandable for the layman while still being enjoyable for the expert. I also wanted each one of my articles to be long and in-depth, like "Oh Babih, Babay" and "The Deal with Daddy." This clashed with the notion that I could put out an article every month, because it took me several months to do all the research for that article, condense it into a readable length, and select relevant multimedia clips. If I could have done both those things - make a broad, pop linguistics blog with relatively frequent long-form articles, I would have created my dream blog.

Unfortunately this is not a very realistic goal. The practical realization of my resolution was "do a lot of research on these topics every month and tweak the article." I have forty-something drafts right now and am sitting on another long-form article that I'm putting bells and whistles on. You can't get an audience without consistent content production, and my goals were directly counterproductive to that. Realistic concession number one - do shorter articles (like whomst and Amewican Teen). Realistic concession number two - limit my scope. The linguistics of everyday life requires knowledge in many subfields of linguistics and I am not equally versed in all of them. It also requires knowledge about, well, everyday life, which is so broad a topic as to be meaningless. The actual result was "blog about whatever curio crosses your mind." I've decided to narrow the focus significantly for now onto a field I'm pretty confident in - music and linguistics. As this blog finds its identity, the focus will undoubtedly shift. I think this is a good place for now.

I've been creating content online for thirteen years, but I've never been able to get a following. Part of this is that I would erase all my old material and old identities due to them being old shame, which prevented the few people who liked each thing from following me. Another is that I didn't interact with other creators for various silly reasons. Did you know that good content will not automatically attract consumers? Tell that to teenage me, who wrote pages upon pages of material on some pseudonymous blog and was frustrated people did not magically show up. My goal, then, is to interact with other creators and learn about the community (yes, there is a lingblogging community!), and to promote my work and be proud of it even if it's not absolutely positively perfect.

Finally, writing a bunch and talking to people does not mean a lot if what I'm saying isn't useful or correct. To this end, I also want to improve my knowledge and skills. That means reading more in-depth material on linguistics and music. That means a lot of practice and re-writing to make well-written articles. That means learning skills to analyze more interesting data or present it in a more readable way. I'm already well on my way with this in that I have a ton of books on articles I want to write ;) but I also have to read them and then write write write about them.

2017 had a lot of behind the scenes work on this blog. I hope 2018 can be the year that work becomes visible and public. I'd get more specific (after all, specific goals are better than nebulous ones), but I'd prefer to keep that a secret for now. Just keep in mind that this blog will get busier this coming year. I'm serving long-form multimedia articles. I'm serving short observations. I'm serving social media (follow me on Twitter, @kbr_tweets). I hope you'll join me on this journey and learn some cool linguistics stuff in the meanwhile.

- Karen

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