Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Art of the Blog


Beth and Trish asked me to write about the topic; what makes a blog good, what is interesting and what is uninteresting… Mo3 added a portion about good writing. I confess that I feel like somewhat of a douche bag for even writing this, because this is my opinion only and only the way I see things with my short attention span. So since blogs are places where one may say, "Me, Me, Me", I'll move ahead with todays post.

It seemed to me that blogging was created to give the unheard a place to sound their voices and possibly be recognized. It was a very personal medium where people would share their daily experiences and share their opinions. It is a web log, which is a personal log that one places on the web. There are millions of them now, and they have crawled above the technical horizon they were once beneath to become a new wow factor of the Internet.

I only started blogging last May. Before that I had heard of it, but it wasn’t even a blip on my Internet radar. I fell upon it because I was looking for a certain local photo, and somehow I ended up at http://astoria.mung.net/. It reminded me of web sites I’ve done in the past, so a few days later I opened Astoria Rust.

I visited a lot of blogs to see what it took to hold my attention. I quickly got tired of all the blogs with photos of happy groups of Asians at restaurant tables. I tired of the blogs about women’s shoes. Family pet blogs turned my stomach as did food blogs. Mom blogs were a big turn off as well, but I did read some of them and found that many of these moms were excellent writers. Yes, they featured tales and photos of their children whom I didn’t know or even care about, but under it all were some great ideas, some great personal feelings and often great angst. My eyes were open to the literate heart and the dreams of the mini-van mafia. I also saw the intense love these women have for their families. So for me, mom blogs were not attractive from the exterior, but once inside it was another story entirely. I felt at home.

Being a child of television I have a very short attention span. I like there to be a hook. A blog needs to come at me with good writing or at least a good photo. This is why I always try to get an interesting photo to accompany my articles. I also enjoy a blog that is reliable; one that I can count on reading weekly, daily or even a couple times a day. I used to post only five or six days a week, and then I saw how my stats sagged on the day after I didn’t post and how they often took several days to recover. It was like I had betrayed my readers, so now I post seven days a week and the stats show that there are generally 100 hits a day. The readers have a ritual that I don’t want to upset.

To me a good blog should include personal stuff about the writer. I see many blogs that just take stuff off the net and turn it around into a blog post. Sometimes this is interesting, but a good story from the writer about the writer seems to make it real. It exposes the heart and soul and sometimes the underbelly. These are the writers that want people to relate to them and are willing to go the extra mile while they reach out.

Mom of 3 stated that she is totally put off by bad writing in blogs, where I am not. I am put off by bad technical writing like poorly written manuals, and more so by signs that say “10 items or less” in the check out line. It should be “10 items or fewer.” I think of blogs as internet travel. If I visit a city I expect to hear the vernacular of the city. If I visit somewhere rural I expect the vernacular of that setting. I don’t mind so much that people use or abuse the language. If they have something good to say it will rise to the surface. It’s all about an attempt to communicate. Blogging is not a professional thing; it is one person wanting to be heard and to add some meaning to all the things that are processed by their grey matter. It does drive me nuts when I see the language abused by the print media or anything that is supposed to have professional writers on staff.

Finally, the comments; Bloggers love comments. I have my blog comments sent to my email address so I don’t miss any. I like to acknowledge that I have read them with a reply back to them. Sometimes people will reply to an article I did months earlier, and I always reply back. If it was important enough to them to make a statement, I want to tell them that I read what they had to say.

So in conclusion, the blogs I like and try to emulate have an interesting illustration, brief stories often of a personal nature, and comments that get a reply from the author.

By the way, this article is too long for what I would consider to be a good post for someone with a short attention span, such as myself.

13 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Good reading Guy. I know that I am still in my blogging infancy and I am trying to come up with things to write about on my blog. As my tenure on the county commission goes forth, I am sure that I will be able to write about many things.

Thanks for posting daily. You have become part of my morning routine!

7:09 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Yesterday I discovered the most interesting blog in my life. Yes, it's done by a mom. Check it out and see if you agree: http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/confessions_of_a_pioneer_/

7:36 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

I have always kept a journal to try and sort out ideas and emotions about how I really felt about things, but when I went back to re-read my entries they were such downers they made me cringe. I wanted to record my thoughts and feelings in a different way, a way that was still therapeutic but also readable. So turning to blogs was a way for me to try something new.
I enjoy reading auto-biographies and essays and blogs by everyday people. I like to know what goes on in their heads, how they figure things out. And if they can do it with a funny spin then that’s even better. Even books by and about exceptional people are interesting for me to read because often they have fears and insecurities like everyone else but have found a way to overcome them and excel at their particular pursuits.
I also think that blogs are retribution for people who like to write but got so turned off by their school experiences where every written piece of work was critiqued and graded. Writing is so riddled with rules whereas it could really be quite enjoyable, therapeutic and interesting. Blogs are like an artists sketch pad.
And yes some are very “me” oriented but so what? There is so much published literary work out there about every subject under the sun that reading blogs is refreshing...I find. Like I say in my sidebar “I’m just trying to make sense of life”.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like the sign in the grocery store to read:

≤10 Items

8:38 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Jeff, I subscribe to your blog through bloglines, so I get your updates as soon as you make them. Being in your position, blogging could be a disaster as it tends to be for others in office, but dang, I really think you've got it right. You call it as you see it and you aren't owned and you aren't self promoting. So though I may not reply to every post, I am reading, as I hope others are doing as well.

Donna, that blog is a lot like yours. Which, by the way, I will be on the buying end of your most recent story today.

Trish, it is cheaper than therapy, and it's amazing how quickly people will tell you when your thinking isn't right.

Oh, an anonymous math head, eh? I like it, too.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Like mine? Well, she's in the country. But dang, I only WISH I could be that funny. Of course, I don't have a retarded brother to write about, and I'm not the type to talk about my husband making my "hiney tingle".

9:08 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, you are so almost there. The word "hiney" is a funny word, just like P-Ditty.

Remember the rules of comedy:
Tragedy plus time=Comedy
Irony=Comedy
Obsession=Comedy
Misunderstanding=Comedy
Misunderstanding may be the best because it can lead to tragedy, irony, obsession, and even more misunderstanding. Feel the force Donna, feel the force...

9:24 AM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

I actually really do love your images, and have been toying with making more of an effort to add quality images to mine because I enjoy it so much.

I don't dislike regional colloquialisms per se, however, I think what bothers me is all of this internet newspeak like CU2 for see you too! Things like that. I'm just too old to be hip.

You've definitely got me hooked!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Wonderful read, a big help.

Thanks.

1:56 PM  
Blogger CB said...

~Showoff~
;P

Doubledog dare you. Post two blogs, one under your real name with your other real passion and then you could (really mean this) give a class up at the college under your real name.

I am SOOOOOO tired of seeing classes up at the college that list the class as being given by "staff" or only being offered "online". OH! Then again, you could give this class online and we could send you $$ via paypal to take it!

7:43 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

Right on, as usual. I think the best blogs are blogs that are personal yet universal. And honest, you've got to be honest. I've got a short attention span, so you better fucking hook me in the first couple of sentences. And if you write a long post then you better be funny or interesting. There is an art to story telling. But who am I to criticize.

9:10 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mo3, I cruise flickr.com and if I see something cool I save it and store it. I have tons of photos I'm waiting to use, and sometimes I just go there for a topic.

Beth, remember my opinion only, and maybe some others, like Zoe, but she and I have a lot in common, both being recovering Catholics.

CB, double dog dares only work in Jean Shepherd movies and books. I write under my real name all the time, just not here. Mostly on agricultural issues. Funny you should mention teaching writing at the college because I just wrote an article last night about English and Writing majors, which I will post here in the next week or two.
As for selling a class on blogging, "everyone needs to find their one voice and vehicle." How's that for annoying artsy teacher talk?

Zoe, Right on as usual? I'm digging you, girl. Way to make my head swell ; )

9:22 PM  
Blogger CB said...

;P
Crap, and I've been falling for it all these years! Who is Jean Shepherd? Ok, googled and its author of Christmas Story. Since I am one of the original children trapped behind a picket fence double dog dare was a part of my life. Hahaha! Three words that made so much trouble in Seaside.

10:03 PM  

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