Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogging - interview with Toby Cryns

Toby Cryns is an avid blogger. I have known him for, well, since the day he first saw the light of day. Toby is my son after all. He was born at home. That was not an accident. We planned a home birth.

Toby has strong musical talent. He recently finished a three week west coast tour on his own appearing in clubs from San Diego to San Francisco. He is the only one of our seven children who did not migrate to California. Toby lives in Minneapolis.

We are pretty much in sync about website issues especially on useability. Like me, Toby loves the Internet. We saw it for the first time one night when we signed up for Hotmail in 1998. We had an awful connection by phone modem back then (as did everyone else) and I remember watching a single graphic load on the screen. It took at least 15 seconds for that one graphic. But we were amazed by what we were seeing on the old monitor. Toby started putting together websites on Geocities (one of the first free places to make websites) and I followed suit soon after.

Toby now earns a good living building and maintaining websites. He is an expert in both Flash and WordPress.


Q: How long have you been blogging?

A: I started my first blog back in 2000. There was no blogging software, so I had to create or edit html pages each time I posted. Here is an example of one of my first blogs:

Q: Tell us about your blogs

A: Lunch of Champions (, Confessions of a Former Political Junkie (, What it's like to be Cryns #3 (" target="_blank"), The Mighty Mo! (

Q: Which blog do you enjoy posting on the most? Why?

A: My personal blog, Confessions of a Former Political Junkie, is the most fun, and I post 2-5 times daily. It is where I go to let my political opinions run wild, share funny email forwards, and post links to interviews I do. ;)

Q: Why do you blog?

A: Blogging is a creative outlet for me. It combines my love of writing, politics, and the internet all in one creative place. I hold onto this dream that one day people will be influenced by the writings on my blog.

Q: Does blogging come easy to you?

A: Sometimes. I have about 30 half-written posts in my "Drafts" folder right now. Sometimes I will start an article and get bored writing it half-way through. I see that as a sign that I should move on to another topic. Most of my blog posts are some form of political commentary of which I am well-versed and passionate about.

Q: Do you want to make money on your blogs?

A: I would LOVE to make a living by blogging. Right now I make a modest living building websites. Blogging is strictly a passion at this time in my life. But I would love to get to a point where I could supplement or supplant my website-building income with a blogging income. I love writing.

Q: You prefer WordPress fan?

A: I have installed and tried to use Joomla, Drupal, and Wordpress. Wordpress was, by far, the easiest of those three to get up and blogging. With Wordpress, it is much easier to create and manage pages and blog posts. You can also more easily control how the urls of your posts are displayed. Finally, editing your themes in Wordpress is a breeze. As far as usability, it is right up there with Blogger (and better than Moveable Type), but with the range of features and hacks that you can utilize with the open-source Wordpress code, there is absolutely no reason that I see to use any of the proprietary options (Blogger, Moveable Type, etc.).

Q: What do you like best about WordPress?

A: I have a ball editing and creating new themes and functionality for my blog. Wordpress plugin developers have a culture of openness, and mostly give away all the cool stuff for free. So, you can integrate Flash slideshows, video skins, rotating banners, Google Adsense, SEO Optimization, Flickr feeds, Twitter, and pretty much anything else all for $0.

Q: Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

A: With a few notable exceptions, I don't regularly follow blogs. The ones that I do follow are Green Threat (, Adastra Per Aspera (, Found Magazine (, and Strobist (

Q: Your view on the future of blogging?

A: I think about this a lot, and it's really a big question mark right now. I worry that the old model of copyright infringement enforcement might cause people to shy away from the medium. It will be really interesting to see how the old corporate guard deals with all these young bloggers. For example, will my rants today disqualify me from a job later? I worry about that. People should be allowed to opine in public without fear of retribution by our corporate masters.

Q: How have blogs impacted the real world?

A: Blogs have allowed people to express themselves in new ways - this is always a good thing. You have the high school social outcast who finds an audience for his crazy thoughts online, which allows him to grow and form a more complete understanding of the world than was previously possible. On the political front, it seems that bloggers have exerted some degree of influence. It seems that the extreme and ridiculous positions are tolerated less on internet bulletin boards than they are on cable and network news shows. When I am online, I can just sift through and ignore the personal attacks and ridiculous assertions that drive daily news coverage in print and broadcast media.

Q: How have you used online social networking?

A: Twitter, blog, Flickr, Facebook, mySpace, and participate in MeetUp and other online user groups. Facebook, in particular has helped me to strengthen many of my personal relationships with friends locally and out-of-state through Facebook-grounded games such as Scrabble and Chess. I'm not sure that Web 2.0 technologies offer the world in terms of bottom lines for most companies, however, they certainly are fun!

Thank you, Toby Cryns, for your time putting together this interview with me.

Greg Cryns

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