Build a Better Blog

Joi Ito has a link to this post by Rebecca Blood (what a name, she sounds like a pirate!) about how to blog effectively. I found her list useful and sensible, focussed on the pragmatic and the process more than the content. It includes tips such as “Know your audience, be real, and write about what you love.” I found her list entirely more useful and sensible than the one that was getting lots of play last week, the full of shit one from the Gothamist. The Gothamist list is much snarkier (note it’s goal is what to not do) and includes advice such as:

Therefore, for the love of God, do not write about yourself . Do not write about your friends . Do not write about your family . Do not write about your pets . Or airport travels .

That’s a pantsload. This medium is all about expression, so express what you feel like expressing, not what any stuck-up oh-so-precious blogerati tell you that you should be writing. Those who don’t want to read it won’t, those who do will. It’s a highly self-regulating system. Suggesting that no one should write from their own perspective is just crap. There are plenty of valid forms of expression beyond the hipster ironic impersonal commentary. If you want to write about yourself in a highly personal voice, do it. If you want to write from a detached, non-personal voice, do it. If anyone tells you either is wrong and you should be doing it differently, ignore them.

I typically, even when presenting predominantly a list of links, tend to interject a lot of myself into it. I present the links, possibly some commentary, and usually at least a little statement about why this link is important to me. That’s why I bring to the table – myself. Otherwise, it’s all just a group of links that overlap everyone else’s groups of links, presented in dry isolation. That’s not fun for me, not how I do it, and mostly not the kind of weblogs I read. I’m highly interested in how Ku-Yuo and Collen spend their weekend. I want to know Doc Searls’ take on events. I keep up with Joi Ito and Seth Godin and Loic Le Meur, none of whom are shy about writing about themselves if that’s what they feel. What I like about these people is their perspective, something that each has that no one else can duplicate. Sure, every single blogger in the world could present third-person lists of links. Me, I’m as much interested in the person as the link and knowing the person helps me understand why this link and not a different one. Sorry, Gothamist folks, I think your advice is crap.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.