The Importance of the Digestible Blog
Posted by Dave
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One of the most energetic blogs on today's web is something I hold as a beloved example of what blogging should be. Streetsblog USA has all this going for it:
- It is a grass-roots publishing effort (or at least appears to be)
- It covers transportation, and advocates car-free living - it aligns with my interests
- It doesn't muck up its desktop presentation (too much)
- It's updated regularly
- It has RSS available
And yet, I don't read it. Or at least most of it.
I subscribe to its RSS feed but inevitably when I land on its daily-refreshed article list in my RSS reader, I only pick through but a few of the articles at most, skimming for the gist, then moving on to someone else's content.
So, what's happening here? What is the seemingly perfect blog in my eyes doing wrong such that while I certainly appreciate and advocate its content, I keep it outside of my thorough field of daily online consumption?
We're supposed to respect blogs that build up their content engine as aggressively as Streetsblog USA. Even more so when that volume of output doesn't result in the diluting of the substance of that content, again as we can observe of Streetsblog USA.
Something just doesn't jive. I should really be eating Streetsblog USA up.
After some mulling I came to realize that, for a blog, it actually publishes too much for the moniker of "blog".
It's a firehose, and that's a problem. It seems to produce at least three articles a day, and when you factor in a missed day or two of purusing the RSS reader, this results in a wall of articles to wade through.
You might think I'm (Pea) Nuts
Pretend that it's 1975. You subscribe to a newspaper and inside the folds of its many sections back then, you open up to the daily funnies and look for your favorite strip. Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz was my favorite as a kid, so we'll pick that strip for this example.
What if on that funnies page there were not just one clean four-panel row of a Peanuts gag, but, say, there were 30 of them. 30 rows of different Peanuts strips taking up virtually the entire page.
You might read the first two before realizing that there isn't enough coffee in your cup to read all 30 separate cartoon strips of the same title, not to mention consume your other favorite strips and newspaper sections. I mean, you do have to be at work in an hour.
So, it's a great cartoon strip and you love it -- but even though you mechanically have all the capability in the world to indulge it, you simply don't have the luxury of that much time to do so. You didn't wake up looking to read a book. And that means you don't read most of what you love.
That would be comic strip fail. And in the same way, it's blog fail for publishing entities who crank out articles every 5 minutes. I should pause to mention it's not as if Streetsblog USA is the only example.
So, now, as far as I am concerned, blogs that do this, worthy as they are as conduits of information and viewpoints for niche subjects, are not actually consumable as blogs. They can be something else, "news sites" maybe, "repositories of data and commentary" about a topic, perhaps; but not a blog as long as we add the additional criterion for blogs as something that produces pointed content that can be digested in a single breezy pass. This pacing attribute turns out to be crucial.
My thinking here is certainly open to critique because of its subjective assertion. Maybe some people don't pan a list of blogs each day. Maybe some people are hardwired to consume more, faster, and might feel cheated not having a buffet of articles waiting for them each morning.
Many blogs are deemed failures when their producers under-produce and "wane away". But not much attention is given to the other extreme. To me, the blogging form feels most right when, whether weak or strong, a single impression is left before turning the page of a day to consume the next.
Earl Pin Astrology Launches
Posted by Dave
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The first real blog (aside from my personal blog, this one, which serves as the development iteration) to use Battle Blog 3.0 is Earl Pin Astrology.
I use it to talk about astrological topics which is a subject I've been interested in for years though, despite so, this interest has been rather dormant since about the time I was 20-something or so when chart analysis and interpretation were a daily thing for me.
Since about that time I quietly kept up on interesting articles and practices but didn't overtly carry on about it so much or offer to chart anyone other than the occasional love interest or family member.
My interest renewed in light of the apparent cultural resurgence in astrology, making it relevant again. At 50+ now, I find myself in social circles with an iota of something to say with any depth that actually impresses people when the topic comes up. Who'd have figured?
I am proud to marry my interest in blogging and astrology to produce the first real Battle Blog 3.0 presentation. Look it over, register, and also consider subscribing to the YouTube channel which I plan to use to address any commentary that arises from the discussion.
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Blogging Only Works, As Work
Posted by Dave
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As you know, I'm in the build phase of this blogging engine. Though it looks completely functional there are major functions still a work in progress. One of those is the archiving system.
To prep up with real content in which to actually test archiving with, and to keep up with a strategy of reflecting all of my online expressions synchronized between Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, I cross-posted most of my Facebook posts of recent months here.
The maneuver did help fill the tank for archive work, but I was surprised at what all that Facebook-ish inspired content wound up doing to the blog as a quality production stream. Rather than give the audience a predictable rhythm of emotion and topic as they read through the posts, the disjointed and wayward thought processes between them were more likely to give them a headache. Now, this blog has the production quality of bathroom graffiti. What happened?
To understand, one has to compare how content as it is drip-dropped into a (personal) Facebook feed versus how it is dropped (more like a brick than a drip) onto a blog like this one.
Facebook posts are spurred by the moment, and like Twitter, are meant to draw your impulsive remarks and shares as captures of the second. The resulting string of sentiments is an enjoyable cacophony of your mundane thoughts within a sophisticated framework where everyone is either doing, or at least knows that they can do, the same thing. Whether they do or not, the random screeds and shares as disconnected intellectual matter are tolerated and appreciated thanks to compositional empathy. Everyone gets that you might write about Aunt Maddie's tasteful potatoes in one post, then the impact of Trump's trade policies with China in the next.
That empathy doesn't exist with longer form platforms, such as a blog. Forget about the fact that a blog is not supposed to capture and cast impulsive thoughts in the first place, people can't relate to the process of feeding one as they do on a universal platform like Facebook. Loosely they understand that, well, first you have to build or customize a blog, then you have to log into it, then you have to "build a post". They imagine each post to be, what it is, which is work.
So, when a reader encounters spotty point-making and flippant ideas one by one on a blog, as my Facebook dump renders, it looks and sounds bad. It's just uncomfortable.
Hence, a consistent blog expression strategy will never be fulfilled by merely directly grafting content from your social media channels to your blog. The blog is too much of a production channel, and the content that needs to be on display there needs to be a reflection of focus and work. It has a voice to maintain, and it probably has a broader thesis to which each and every entry must be connected to.