Art by Hannah Dear
Well it’s finally happened! Blogger in Middle-earth has had to go back to basics.
My home PC died over the weekend and I’m finding out how it is to blog without a PC! Any comments I post on other blogs will have to be real quick jobs at tea-break and lunch on my work laptop. So I’ll be up-skilling on the art of brevity. Perhaps I need to. As for my RSS Reader, I’m going to rely on doing a lot of skim dive skim, so Tony Karrer’s technique is going to come in very useful. You could say that this is the ‘back again’ bit, from my 100th post title, “There And Back Again”.
I still have my blog – thank goodness for cloud computing! My first blog post drafted with pen (I used a quill) on refill, was typed, formatted and posted at lunch. It is a look at some features of blogs that interest me from the point of view of their appearance and function, rather than just their content and literary significance.
I’m no expert at blogging, but I think I’m getting an eye for recognising those who are. Of course, it’s only by getting to know the writers in my RSS Reader, and by visiting their blogs regularly, that I can sense some of the characteristics that show me their writing is likely to be authentic.
It’s not all to be found in the diction, ‘tone of voice’, sub-headings, paragraphing, and text layout either, so I have to go further than what’s displayed in my RSS Reader. What I’ve been looking at recently is really complimentary to all that makes for good reading in a blog post.
There are several telltale features that I’m learning to recognise. Though not all of these are present in every valued blog, noteworthy combinations of these can often point to the quality and genuineness of the writings.
Paint jobs and other renovations:
A significant number of my favourite bloggers have brought a fresh new look to their blogs recently – perhaps a new blog header or colour scheme, or in some cases a complete new template. Invariably they have announced the changes, and asked followers for their opinion. This shows me that the blogger is thinking of how the blog is coming across to the viewer - reflective practice, if you like.
Threads and follow-ups:
It’s always refreshing to read a post about something new and innovative, but it is also invigorating to follow how an idea develops in the mind of the writer.
Carrying a train of thought from an earlier post to the next over a series of posts is not uncommon among bloggers. The progression of thoughts expressed and how the blogger’s beliefs, feelings and point of view develop through discussion, however, is a clear sign of an active mind, willing to learn and be enlightened.
Visitors following such series of posts stand a better chance of being introduced to new ideas, and forming their own opinions by reading the debate of others, than if they are following a progressive series that simply introduces a particular theory or principle.
Updated blog roll in the side bar:
It’s always good to be introduced to the writing of bloggers new to me. One of the ways I expand the scope of my reading in this area is by examining the blog rolls of other bloggers. In doing this I have become aware that good bloggers ring the changes by introducing new sites to their blog rolls. I see the alternative to this as analogous to the notice board that’s seldom updated. People get so tired looking at the same old postings that they miss the new notice when it appears.
Relevant, appropriate and novel illustrations:
The blogger who selects images, animations and videos that deliver the message of the post, uses a first class elearning design technique. Using pictures and diagrams specifically and only to assist with the content of the post avoids the flippancy of distraction. The word ‘engagement’ springs to mind and this is exactly why the technique is so successful in elearning.
Awakening the dream:
Bloggers who try something different show creativity and a desire to experiment.
Jonathan Mead of Zen Habits explains that trying something, anything, not just doing what works, is the way to go. He explains that doing what works every time ‘is the number one dream killer’.
Don’t kill your dreams. Try something different.