Friday, May 2, 2008

Write Like A Blogger, Though Not Necessarily Like This Blogger

It has been almost a week since I did a post for this weblog. The real life/day job reality has been more demanding. It has not only meant a decrease in the number of posts, but it has served to make hollow my resolution about improving my writing. To be honest, my problem is that I often write these posts late at night after work and my internal self-editor often works on a 2 to 3 day delay. So looking over past posts after a week or so, I find "advise" instead of "advice" or "principals" instead of "principles" and other errors. Past posts attempting to justify typos don't really resolve anything.

This though raises the question, why even worry about it? As this is not a professional weblog serving any viable business enterprise and it has limited range within the blogosphere compared to so many others, why worry?

For me, what is of importance is that this weblog is a learning tool and one means of demonstrating understanding is being able to communicate that understanding.

Seth Godin's Blog back on On April 7th provided some other insights. I am, however, going to start with the questions he ended with.

What would happen if every single high school student had to have a blog? Or every employee in your company? Or every one of your customers?

I would imagine that many would look like this one, not in terms of the details, but as thousands of small pools connecting to others with 4 to 6 active readers, 1 or 2 clicking a link or 3 or 4 visitors a day. Others would be far more socially-oriented than this blog or have particular expertise but the vast majority would have limited reach and be linked together through multiple degrees of separation. They would though be connected. This weblog's best used link, which was to the World Health Organization website on children's health issues, got 128 clicks according to FeedBurner. While a minor number in world wide web statistics, what happened to those connections, was there a cascading benefits effect? If every high school student had a blog could the voting age be lowered to 16? So while the writing of this weblog has only minor effect by itself, it does add to a larger conversation that can have great impact.

Seth Godin provides a number of ways of achieving this through his advice to write like a blogger. Only bulleted summations of his main ideas are here (which are pretty much bullet-oriented already) along with my comments, more can be found at the original link.

You can improve your writing (your business writing, your ad writing, your thank you notes and your essays) if you start thinking like a blogger:

  1. Use headlines. Which I do, coming up with them is part of the fun. I don't know really know how well they work though.
  2. Realize that people have choices. blog writing shorter and faster and more exciting.
  3. I can agree with this for the most part, but it all writing is summarized and bulleted how does anyone get any depth of knowledge from the Internet?
  4. Drip, drip, drip. Bloggers don't have to say everything at once. We can add a new idea every day, piling on a thesis over time.
  5. This one I definitely agree with especially using the Internet as a learning tool. I am continuously building upon what was written before
  6. It's okay if you leave, include links
  7. For this weblog the focus is on the links. The weblog posts are intended as a narrative thread to organize the knowledge in an understandable manner.
  8. Interactivity is a great shortcut, reading your email or your comments makes it easy to stay relevant.
  9. This weblog claims no expertise, only the offer of sharing what is discovered and hopefully learned from.
  10. Gimmicks aren't as useful as insight. If you're going to blog successfully for months or years, sooner or later you need to actually say something. Same goes for your writing.
  11. Meaning that blogging and writing are two different things. This is something I want to explore more.
  12. Don't be afraid of lists. People like lists.
  13. Like this one?
  14. Show up, waiting for perfect is a lousy strategy.
  15. Say it. Don't hide, don't embellish.

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