The Blogs We Want, And Why We Want Them

Time to bring this forward again, after reading a really timely and excellent post @ Intellectuelle and further on @ Nicholas Carr’s blog, Roughtype. In fact, these posts are going into a new direction, enough that while bringing this forward, I think I will make a new post to collate my own thoughts on what blogging, and the good blog, is today. Because I need to know 🙂
Updating and then reposting … also linked permanently on the sidebar

The beginning of a compilation of thoughts from…anyone who wants to answer, but how nice to start out with poetic and insightful bloggers. ( which have dropped down in the list due to updates.)

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As blogging moves along its maturity cycle, I find things are changing in both styles and interest. Blogs are becoming more sophisticated, even though a huge substrata retains its rough edged diary look and feel. I predicted that this is the way blogs would evolve, following the steps of personal websites. I think the goal of creating a business environment contributes to this. That requires more of a polished presentation. But blogging is still wide open and there are lots of people who want to start…. anyone with opinions on what they like or dislike are welcome to add opinions in the comments- please do! Despite the spammers I keep this comments string open. Yes, spammers are a part of the blog experience, too- unfortunately.

To keep things interesting for those who have read this , but want the new material, I will start to add the updates from the top, OK?
UPDATE: 8/22/06
Written in counterputal style, Shel Israel,of Naked Conversations, writes this post, Open Letter to Nick Carr, which weights relevance heavily. This is a matter that will be impacted by your choice of niche, and probably the shifting interests of the times.

Shel: “Like the rest of us, if Seth wants to be an A-lister, he needs to not just do the right mechanical things, he needs to interest enough people enough of the time. He needs to have readers enthusiastic enough about what he has to say that they link to him and talk about him and catch his passion and get valuable information and insights on things they care about. In short, he needs to be relevant.”

UPDATE: 3/22/06
This time padawan.info
presents “David Weinberger about blogs”, with some interesting observations.
Some of the ones I liked best:

  • Our blog is ourself in the public space (our body in the new public space)
  • We write badly and it’s ok, it exposes more of us, you’re allowed to make mistakes (it’s human, adds intimacy with readers)
  • Journalists think that bloggers are narcissists, but they never make any links to other sites except for ads! On the contrary bloggers are very generous in giving lots of links-love (the net is about hyperlinks)
  • Brand < Reputation < Relationship
  • Blogs are here to stay, they’re co-creation, 2-way conversations
  • The blogosphere is a huge focus group (“a defocus group”)
  • PR should be Public Relationships
  • What to do? Listen, Audit, Engage, Give up control(*) (*)Blogging policy: 1. sound like a human being 2. be a human 3. engage, don’t defend 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. be transparent 10. link, link, link…
  • Do you want people to talk about you?

Ok, we got it:) I think everyone emphasizes the importance of linking. With the post “Stumbling Upon” the importance of understanding what “public” really means in the internet age ; highlighted by that thought, “Our blog is ourself in the public space”.

The fact that this is interpersonal action is what separates it from the Academic ways of writing. And opens us, and our writing style and ideas for public criticism. -Just good things to keep in mind when you ‘tryon’ blogging.

UPDATE: 9/11/05
I keep adding to the collection:) Greg Wallace reports on Blogger Survey Results. One of the findings was:

“Gender differences were located in many aspects of blogging. Men claim higher approval of information motivation while women endorse self-documentation, self-expression, and passing time more.”

I think that tends to be true just because I think women tend to get emotionally involved with information. So even when dealing with news, we get more into blogging it on the editorializing of its impact, or our view of it. Men want to see what each other is thinking, more. That sort of mirrors conversation styles that are used in comedy so much.

UPDATE: 9/09/05
UPDATE: 8/21/05
Irina @ The IgNoble Experiment has a list of desired blogging traits:

  1. To maintain an open environment.

    I can’t stand blogs where I don’t have an option to leave a comment, even if I really disagree with what is being said.

  2. To post regularly:
    Not necessarily daily…
  3. To practice intellectual honesty:
    By remaining open-minded, listening to other points of views, reevaluating one’s own position, arguing one’s real position or perhaps playing the devil’s advocate, but avoiding hypocrisy and flattery. And of course, admitting one’s mistakes.
  4. Keeping the balance:
    Between remembering one’s audience and writing for oneself.
  5. A good blogger is able to find a right tone and to avoid raising unnecessary passions.

~these were some of the hilights…like all good bloggers she had more to say. this one found via Carl , an example of an EXCELLENT blogger.
UPDATE: 8/05/05
Newest update for improving your blog or the understanding of blogging is:
A Suggested Protocol for Blog Communication from Info Theory. Basic overview which links to articles on blog etiquette. Info says “Trackbacked sites and posts should conform to the source blog’s sourcing policy” which I find difficult to understand how to implement properly. Lots of us are low-tech and imprecise enough that we don’t keep track of each bloggers personal policy. I think this is only a problem that would grow given that the blogosphere is growing so fast with such easy entry. I viewed this piece of advice as something sophisticated semi-professional bloggers would follow. You never know when you might become serious about your blogging, though, and in the event that you are using it as a journalistic platform this is probably something to keep in mind.

Of course, that was only one point on the list. One main point was “The role of the author is as a host to a party. The role of the commenter is to be a respectful guest.” which garnered the attention of Cao, who is due a H/T.

UPDATE: 7/17
It is time to update again. I have new sources thanks to Julie.
Julie Leung and her husband are accomplished bloggers. She regularly writes on the subject of blogging with expertise and enjoyable enthusiasm. This post,”set of guidelines for parents and children interested in blogging “, takes you beyond the basics, and leads into exploring many aspects of blogging that you probably haven’t considered. It is also a helpful guide to blogging etiquette. Which you might want to know about before you break the rules. Just so no one is surprised.

UPDATE: 7/12
The Evangelical Outpost addresses statistics and behavior in blogging. He quotes David Bayley: “It’s amazing how a ranking instrument such as Truth Laid Bear or Technorati or Site Meter almost automatically turns us into statistics-addicted influence seekers.”
Is this the dark side of blogging, or merely natural human response to checking on one’s progress?
UPDATE: 6/04
Coding Horror: Blogging about Blogging feels :
* you have to want to write
* you have to believe you have something to say
* you have to have an interesting way of saying it

and then makes the observation,”Blogs are interesting because they are honest windows into other people’s interests and passions.” These he quotes from Rory who has a good deal to say on it, while making some additions of his own including the need for comments.

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First, on the list, was Bernard Higgins of Certain Slant of Light because he inspired this post. His post should be added to your _must read_ , he gives you his full heart. What Makes a Blog Interesting To You
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John Ballard fit some thoughts on what he thinks about blogs on this Morning Reading and Rant
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UPDATE: 4/16

No Oil For Pacifists has concise rundown: Blog Audience
Extremely well thought out and helpful from a rather good blogger.
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Keely wonders why people like her blog and gets some comments:

“your blog is interesting because it is real.- Hailey”

” I look for writing, humorous or not,-Tish”

“I only regularly read blogs that I can relate to in some way…either the person or the subject matter of the writing. – Izzy”

” Content would be the 2nd thing that would interest me. the first would be layout. – Lisa”
and finally, there’s Pablo: “It’s the ying you your yang my dear.”
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UPDATE: 5/28
Dust my Broom – Just us Bloggers eh! has two main points, but lots of detailed info:
1. Links Links Links
2. Good Research which includes looking at the other side.
I would say his view applies especially to news and political opinion blogs.

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So …what are we coming up with? Content, yes, but there are now some additional details … topics, something people can generally relate to, the personality of the blogger coming through.

For some the visuals are quite important, for others, not so much. I personally want a good visual. It doesn’t have to be artistic or unique, but I find some so ugly as to be painful. If they are a blogger I like, I read them anyway. Some I link to just because they are visually beautiful.

Linking is an issue for some- it is ‘added value’ as Carl, No Oil for Pacifists, puts it.

more inspired by Carl:

The defining difference is made between linking and thinking blogs, with the addition of ‘theme’ blogs. If this trend follows the pathway of static webpages, the linking blogs will give way to the thinking which in turn will lose audience to theme blogs. The way this goes is that the demand for links will create huge portal blogs, that are too much to be manned by one person. People, who stop being enamored with the fun of surfing through, will relegate their time to favored important sites. The thinking blogs will continue to have their content draw traffic, but eventually single themes will dominate over the eclectic.

I am not sure why it works that way. I think it is the pressure from the increase in commercial interests. You can more easily target an audience and gain readership when you solidify your focus. This is something I learned in making my website. I was eclectic- the old style, which branched off into interrelated ‘sites’ on specific themes. Besides being hard to maintain, the search engines favor the single thematic approach… and people who are short on time favor that to find their information.

We’ll have to see if blogging follows this pattern. I think some of it will, it is hard to predict if there will be a sector that stays in the idiosyncratic eclecticism you often see still. I hope so…it is something that has always interested me about the internet.

14 thoughts on “The Blogs We Want, And Why We Want Them”

  1. I think the first thing that needs to be identified is why a writer is writing what they write.

    I read this blog and then contemplated — should I comment BEFORE I read Higgins? — you know to ensure freedom from contamination. I sat here with finger posed over my mouse mentally considering what to do. And then I said to myself. Aww, I don’t think so. After all Ilona didn’t tell me what she wants and why she wants it.

    So without considering what I want and why I want it, right off the cuff, I do have blurt out that I want a blog to give a blog writer’s perspective – whatever it may be. That’s what makes a blog as personal as a one-to-one conversation. Now because I’m an incredibly curious soul, I’m now going to go read Higgins and Ballard.

  2. I want, as I wrote in a prior comment, a blogger to write about his or her true interests rather than writing to please an audience. I want the genuine article.

  3. Your right about the content – there has to be fun in there somewhere or something unusual and I’m with Mama – the person needs to be writing about what they know about.

  4. I got hooked during Rathergate. I like the insight into the news stories that some obscure blogger always seems to have. Everyone out there is an “expert” in some miniscule slice of science, industry, history, technology, politics, etc, and it seems so often when a MSM story breaks, blogs are where the story behind the story first comes together.

    The whole concept of the citizen- journalist having the opportunity to add (and check) facts and details as well as making comments on news stories is what makes blogs addictive. However, I don’t like when blogs turn into chat rooms.

    And a splash of humor is good too. And simple web page design. BTW, nice site. I linked to it from “nooilforpacifists”.

  5. Hey, Mich:) glad you linked and put in your comment.

    You are right, one of the draws of blogs is the voice of the people, instead of a guess about what people want to investigate and discuss.

    And there is a certain reveling in the idea of ability to influence.

    The chat room phenom. might result from the discomfort bloggers have with moderation powers. Don’t know.

    Thanks for the compliment.

  6. I clarified my coding to direct bloggers to the actual page. What seems clear to me, sometimes isn’t to the visitor.

  7. I have to maintain variety because what drives me is
    1) An opportunity to give insight into the life of a passionate Christian who is also human. A lot of people have a pre-formed image of Christians that people tell me I don’t meet, but in a good way.

    2) The need to bring truth to light. Truth in Scripture, truth in everyday events, the fact that ketchup really is good on eggs…whatever.

    I do understand the need for targeted presentations when one wants to reach a specific audience, and if the goal is building numbers.

    My goal is to avoid going to far in any direction. I want to present my life as honestly as possible, success and failure, and hopefully inspire somebody else to know Christ too.

    Does this have anything to do with the subject? 😉

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