Tag Archives: blogging

Blogging’s 8 Commandments

I confess to sometimes forgetting that I am still, in relative terms, a newcomer to blogging (notwithstanding a respectable post count, between fledgling‘s archive and Makurrah’s Blog).  More precisely, blogging has been part of my writing life for less than a year, coming on the heels of decades of work in other contexts and formats.  This becomes an issue, for example, when I undertake to write here about matters that have, in the past, generated essays, articles and books, most of them published by academic journals and university presses.  These endeavors have, more often than not, taken many months to see the light of day, given the typical interval between submission and publication in the sphere of academic presses (before the advents of electronic journals and ebooks, at least). 

So as I contemplate a short series of posts (already begun) reprising my “epistemology of media lag argument” (so dubbed by a friend and fellow traveller,  Tom Levin of Princeton University) in the context of the sometimes extravagant claims currently being made for the “real-time” Web, I feel the need of an effective reminder of the differences (they are multiple) between conducting this effort on Makurrah’s Blog and writing with the idea of a book as the horizon.

To this end, I returned just now to a text that I found helpful as I began blogging last fall:  The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging (I would recommend it to anyone starting out in the medium, or finding themselves at a loss once they’ve launched).  I was seeking a citation from another old friend, David Bromwich, a Yale prof who also blogs for HuffPo, about the post as form.  I found it in Chapter 4, “Finding Your Voice,” which contains a sidebar that lists “The Huffington Post Rules for Great Blogging.”

1.  Blog often.

2.  Perfect is the enemy of done.  [Where have I heard that one before?  Was it the Wall St. bailout, or health care reform?]

3.  Write like you speak.

4.  Focus on specific details.

5.  Own your topic.

6.  Know your audience.

7.  Write short.

8.  Become part of the conversation with like-minded bloggers.

Bromwich (known in overlapping writerly circles for his mastery of the long form) is cited under Rule #7:  Write short.  Here is the full paragraph in which the quotation appears.

We live in an ADD culture.  Though you can write as much as you want on the web, we know from experience that unless the reader can see the end of your post eight hundred words in, a good portion of them will stop scrolling down.  [Are you still with me? – Ed.]  Even eight hundred words is an intimidating block of text.  Break it up with a picture or pull quote, and definitely with some links.  If you find that you can’t do justice to your point in eight hundred to a thousand words, consider breaking the thought up into two or more posts.  David Bromwich, a professor of English at Yale and HuffPost blogger says, “A good post is a single thought or observation or anecdote, clearly expressed and directly conveyed.  An essay may cover several topics; a post easily grows tiresome if it aims for more than one.”  [emphasis added]

Thanks, David, and point taken.  Now if I could just come up with a mnemonic device to help me recall all 8 rules (I’ve never done well at internalizing rules – please don’t ask me to recite the 10 commandments).

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Media, Reading and writing, Tech, Weblogs

The serendipity factor

Here I write with reference to my earlier post on “Chris Brogan’s throwdown,” which cited his challenge to his readers and fellow bloggers:  What is the focus and purpose of your blog? 

I’ve been mulling this question off and on ever since, testing various formulations against current posts and my triple archive (Makurrah’s Blog, fledgling, and makurrah’s posterous).  But when I returned to my “About” page and re-read the brief lines there, I realized that they constitute an answer to CB’s question.

Pages from the notebooks and archives of a practitioner and critic of blogging in all its manifestations, who is attentive to media, new and old, and their relations to journalism and to historiography.

However, I have run across a few tweets and links that have brought into focus an important aspect of this blog, and an ongoing impetus for me to continue working in the medium.  I refer here to the possibilities, afforded by blogging in particular, for serendipity.

For the moment I will limit myself to providing a few links that got me thinking about this concept and its implications for the practice of blogging in all its manifestations. 

– Inside guardian.co.uk blog, March 26, 2010:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/help/insideguardian/2010/mar/26/random-guardian

– jaggeree blog, March 26, 2010:  http://blog.jaggeree.com/post/475027012/newspapers-as-serendipity-bundles-and-chatroulette-for

– Matthew Ingram at gigaom, March 29, 2010:  http://gigaom.com/2010/03/29/forget-paywalls-how-about-more-serendipity/  

I’ll have more to say on the serendipity factor as time allows.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Journalism, Media, Reading and writing, Weblogs

fledgling’s archive, january 2010

 1/06/2010  Motivational reading: Clay Shirky’s ‘Here Comes Everybody’

I finally made the time to embark on Clay Shirky’s first book, which I’ve been wanting to read for months.  Having consistently come away from various blog posts and videos that he’s shared a bit wiser than I was going in, I opened the volume with high expectations, which were met in the first few paragraphs.  His anecdotal example of the stolen phone, and his analysis of the extent to which it “demonstrates the ways in which the information we give off about ourselves, in photos and e-mails and MySpace pages and all the rest of it, has dramatically increased our social visibility and made it easier for us to find each other but also to be scrutinized in public,” gets to at least one crux of our historical present.  What I like most in what I’ve read so far, however, is an unattributed quotation that serves as a section header on page 6:  “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.”  For me, this stunning imperative provides a modicum of hope for the future, from the standpoint of a present that reads, all too often, as grim.  I recognize here the topos of the Archimedean point, but I can’t recall the source of this “moving” (motivational?) citation.  Can anybody help me out? Clay, are you there? (You shouldn’t be all that hard to find, right?)

Posted at 02:23 PM in Books, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) 

Technorati Tags: , ,  

 

01/04/2010   Before the fact: Walter Benjamin on blogging

Today’s brief offering transcribes another scrawled entry in my notebook, one that records more of Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street (which had its own origins in barely-legible notes).  In the context of the year-and-decade-end inbox avalanche of advice on how to optimize, maximize and monetize one’s blog, this comes, to me at least, as sweet relief and bracing reminder.

“Standard Clock”

To great writers, finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they work throughout their lives.  For only the more feeble and distracted take an inimitable pleasure in closure, feeling that their lives have thereby been given back to them.  For the genius each caesura, and the heavy blows of fate, fall like gentle sleep itself into his workshop labor.  Around it he draws a charmed circle of fragments.  “Genius is application.” 

 (Selected Writings, vol. 1, 446)

 Posted at 09:49 AM in Books, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Technorati Tags: , ,

 

01/02/2010  @Biz on “A year in the life of Twitter”

A link in the Twitter blog post by @Biz (December 29, 2009) connects the reader to his recent article “Why we can never rest:  a year in the life of Twitter.” 

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry-sectors/technology/article6968440.ece 

The article’s closing lines are perhaps worth citing, for the record. 

Many people have assumed that Twitter is just another social network, some kind of micro-blogging service, or both.  It can be these things but primarily Twitter serves as a real-time information network powered by people around the world discovering what’s happening and sharing the news.  The Iranian election was the most discussed issue on Twitter in the final year of a decade defined by advancements in information access. 

In the new year, Twitter will begin supporting a billion search queries a day.  We will be delivering several billion tweets per hour to users around the world.  These are figures we did not anticipate when we founded the company in 2007. 

Posted at 09:48 AM in Journalism, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,  

 

01/01/2010  Walter Benjamin on the virtues of blogging

The new year appears to be off to a fine start. I’m fortunate enough to be blogging from a gorgeous small hotel in Toronto, where I’m ensconced as the snow falls softly on the other side of the windows and I embark on my first post of 2010. This time last year I wasn’t yet a blogger; with nearly 100 posts under my belt, I’m feeling at least legit.  As I mentioned two or three posts back, my idea is to take as a point of departure for the next several posts the question of what Walter Benjamin has to teach us, in our time – for example, about blogging.  For the most part, I’ll simply quote his writings, adding commentary where appropriate. 

I begin by returning to a work that I cited recently:  One-Way Street, which is translated and collected in Selected Writings, ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Harvard University Press, 1996, vol. 1, 444).  This is the first section of the text, entitled “Filling Station.”  Its pertinence to blogging seems to me self-evident. 

The construction of life is at present in the power far more of facts than of convictions, and of such facts as have scarcely ever become the basis of convictions.  Under these circumstances, true literary activity cannot aspire to take place within a literary framework; this is, rather, the habitual expression of its sterility.  Significant literary effectiveness can come into being only in a strict alternation between action and writing; it must nurture the inconspicuous forms that fit its influence in active communities better than does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book – in leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards [and blog posts, and tweets… – Ed.].   Only this prompt language shows itself actively equal to the moment.  Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines:  one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know.

Posted at 04:24 PM in Books, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Culture, Current events, Journalism, Media, Reading and writing, Tech, Weblogs