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26 May 2010

Blogging and Smoking
 Musings on the creation of a blog

I've never blogged before; I think that my particular need to share thoughts in writing manifests itself elsewhere. But I have toyed with the idea from time to time, utterly failing to come up with a unifying theme, assuming I'd just do it under my own name as a person, rather than as a company. I briefly considered documenting my culinary efforts (and failures, which would be far more entertaining), but the idea sputtered fairly quickly-- it was obvious it'd have three great posts and nothing further. As far as pipes go, it would have been terribly odd for me to blog about pipes outside of the context; my love for pipes and my life with pipes is so inextricably intertwined with this company that I couldn't see myself describing one without the other. Other ideas presented themselves, usually when I found something particularly clever and witty. Later, of course, I realized that I wasn't nearly as clever or witty as I'd thought to begin with and that a blog entitled "the woefully self-indulgent musings of a pipe retailer, student of history, and mediocre cook" was just not going to fly.

We'd also discussed a group blog for the website since the earliest days of blogging. In some respects, various iterations of the newsletter provided this, especially the introduction and various columns that have been included over the years. In recent months though, the newsletter has become less fluid. Some of that is a good thing-- we finally figured out what the newsletter should be-- though much of it is a function of the scale of the organizational task that is bringing you the newsletter and the need to regularize it some. Anyway, it's become abundantly clear that the sort of informal and semi-formal 'behind the scenes' commentary that we wanted to provide simply didn't fit the newsletter very well. We have all these different communication channels, but they're all very one-way and all fairly formal: articles on the site, pipe descriptions, newsletter content etc. What we wanted was a fairly informal, somewhat two-way avenue for communication.

So, we started this blog, of which this is the first post. It took a little longer than anticipated to implement because most of the off-the-shelf software out there didn't fit our needs (and long term plans for greater integration with the rest of the site), so we're using a heavily modified version of BlogCFM sitting atop our Postgresql database. Melissa did most of the work for this, so kudos to her.

So, what is this blog and what will it be? For starters, I don't really know. All good projects tend to take on a life of their own and develop characteristics different from what their originators predicted. Still, I do know that this won't be about new products on the site, though we may occasionally mention such. Mostly, I hope it'll serve as something of a backstage pass into life at and give us a place to share general pipe and tobacco thoughts in a less formal, less structured medium. When we sat altogether yesterday (the people I expect to participate most with the blog: Brian, Alyson, Bobby, Eric, Adam, Melissa and me) and discussed it, the only thing we concluded is that this shouldn't really be company communication, it should be communication from a bunch of individuals within the company. Bobby should talk about photography, Adam could talk about pipe making or esoteric estate pipes, Eric could write about, well, writing, Alyson about the process of organizing the update etc. In all, we'll just see what happens. I hope it flowers into something interesting and compelling over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Posted by sykes at 2:50 PM | Link | 5 comments

Re: Blogging and Smoking
I am interested in pipes and tobacco, am working at becoming a mediocre cook, am a tyro photographer; sometimes,when desperate, I write for money. Your crew of bloggers seems to be just the sort I'd enjoy vicariously paddling around with.

Posted by oxfordjoe on May 27, 2010 at 8:34 PM

Re: Blogging and Smoking
I have been very impressed with your company and I'm exicited to see what happens with this blog. Sorry to see Bear go. I'll just say I fit more in with him....LOL.

Posted by Smtghost on May 27, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Re: Blogging and Smoking
I wish you a great success with the blog. It will be great to read posts from people so close to the heartbeat of the pipe business. Goodness knows that you all can write well. And Sykes, I hope you'll write regularly. I really enjoy reading what you're up to and thinking about.

Posted by Neill on May 28, 2010 at 7:28 AM

Re: Blogging and Smoking
I have never been a fan on anyone just rambling on and on and eventually I loose the whole point of what they were talking about. Recently you had a change and I was glad to see someone different writing the newsletter. I could never follow the other guy.
The dangers of this blog to me is that I will never understand why one would spend so much time writing about things that are not interesting.
Good luck and don't get caught up in your own written word.

Posted by Michael Raposa on May 28, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Re: Blogging and Smoking
Hello all! I've never done any blogging but as an avid pipe smoker and frequent visitor and customer to this site I was excited to try something new. Not sure I have any enlightenments, epiphanies, or suggestions at this time, but look forward to reading....

Posted by andrew on May 28, 2010 at 10:47 PM

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