Apr 28


Paul Scrivens over on 9rules Network recently advised prospective applicants for their network to maintain consistency in the frequency with which they post. I’ve seen this advice given elsewhere so I don’t mean to pick on Paul but I respectfully disagree with this. Blogging is not about informative journalism, it’s about taking what’s in your head and bubbling it up into a virtual playground which extends beyond the earshot of the people you normally share your ideas with and making them available for anyone on the playground to consume, synthesize, criticize, remix and respond. It’s not about grammatically-perfect language, absence of spelling errors or slick design (though those elements help the digestibility and transmissibility of your thoughts)- it’s about unadulterated expression of the things that are core to one’s being and it’s about connecting with other people on a very fundamental level. The term blog when used as a verb still feels hoaky to me because it seems to imply that you’re practicing a different art that involves customary practices. Dude, you’re not- you’re writing. Period. It just so happens that your publishing mechanism incorporates certain features that make it easy for people to monitor and respond to your words but there’s nothing inherent to this act of writing when it’s on a blog that should demand it occur on a certain schedule. I went 3wks this month focused on other things and now this is my 3rd post in the past 12hrs… If you’re looking for traditional journalism with regular frequency of publishing you pick up a trade publication or periodical (ahem, periodic-intervals…). Imposing artificial consistency and forcing regularity on one’s blog posts robs them of the characteristic that makes them interesting to begin with- their "raw-ness."

The critical thing to understand here is that the people writing the interesting blogs out there are not writers by trade- they are wacky people in weird professions doing bold things and chronicling what happens. It’s the realest of the reality shows- an uncut, from-the-source account of what is happening. Would you rather read the blog of a media journalist or the blog of a deep-sea treasure hunter? How about a forest fire smoke jumper? Or an arctic explorer who hiked to the North Pole on foot ? Call me crazy but a few weeks without posts from any of those people would be completely acceptable. I don’t proclaim to have nearly as sexy a job as any of those people but I’m extremely excited about the projects I’m part of right now and I’ll go stretches of several weeks without posting and instead focusing intensely on other pursuits. Being able to write at will and not adhere to any deadlines (I believe) is core to the proposition of what makes blog content compelling. If you have ever tried writing a piece of music by a schedule it’s the same effect. So "why do you write?" is the question my buddy Keith asked. It’s a stew of motivations for me, namely:

  1. expression: idea catharsis from all the things that pile up in one’s head
  2. connection: a basal desire everyone has of connecting more intimately with other human beings
  3. uncertainty: that "you-neva-know-whatchu-gonna-get" thrill of the random backflow of ideas and people you meet
  4. archival: consolidation of insights and techniques and references in a spot you know you can come back to and refer others to
  5. credibility: hosting a living resume that anyone can traverse to learn your capabilities
  6. encoding: writing helps with retention and recall of concepts later on
  7. exposure: shameless self-promo for whatever you do and a way of reaching new potential customers

Running your raw observations through any purification process dillutes the effect of each of the above and removes the edginess – at that point you’re not truly L-I-V-I-N as Wooderson would say. Google’s blog as useful as the info is, has the distinct flavor of being run through five approval layers and tweaked by marketing folks until all the impurities are gone and it "meets criteria for alignment with corporate vision" or whatever. What’s funny is getting syndicated by 9Rules is on my laundry list of goals – arguably criticizing the advice of their founder is counterproductive to the realization of that goal and yet reserving one’s honest opinion for the sake of advancing is an empty win and in doing so you trash the validity of what you’re you’re trying to get syndicated. And therein lies the rub…but that’s just my non-journalism-major take on this subject. Oh and I swore I would never fall into the trap of blogging about the act of blogging like Dennis but here I am doing it- I suppose it’s inevitable at some point.

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One Response to “Pasteurized homogenized grade-A thought”

  1. James Britt says:

    "The term blog when used as a verb still feels hoaky to me because it seems to imply that you’re practicing a different art that involves customary practices. Dude, you’re not- you’re writing. Period. "

    Thank you. This is a point I, too, try to get across to people; saying how you "blogged about [something]", as if the tool used inferred some magical state, is as about as silly as saying, "I cell-phoned about [something]." The technology is not the important factor; it’s the content that counts.

    (On a side note, those who wish to see "bloggers" given the same accord as journalists should stop emphasizing the tool. If you describe what you do as *writing*, and call yourself a *writer*, then people may start treating you as, maybe, a *writer*.)

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