Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blogging and the Fourth Dimension

The fourth dimension being time, of course. The most important thing about comedy.

In this case, it is certainly an important element of blogging - but certainly not the most important. Far and away the most important element of blogging is the quality of published material. Whether it's a recipe, a personal experience, or commentary; engagingly and well-written content will help your blog to be successful.

Obviously timing plays a role in that.

A recipe for Christmas cookies in April, or for a Thanksgiving Turkey in February will not be viewed as particularly salient or timely and thus as unimportant.

A personal experience will probably be conveyed with more clarity and emotion if it happened this morning than if it happened 20 years ago - however much you were able to ruminate upon it in the interim.

Commentary - unless a novel take on a historic event - is also unlikely to turn heads if the event is no longer interesting.

I think that there is an important caveat to that third point. There are some blogs, by virtue of persistence, luck, or what have you, are newsbreakers. They get their hands on a story immediately and share it with the world. The other newsbreaking sites - if they haven't already received the information from the source, will quickly take your hint and repurpose it for themselves. There aren't a whole lot of sites that can do this.

For example, if five minutes from now, aliens landed in Detroit and started having conversations with people on the street (let's assume that they have vocal chords capable of producing a range of sounds audible to humans and that they have somehow learned English and that the atmospheric conditions of Earth are not fatal to their alien biologies, etc.).

People would go to CNN, MSNBC, Fox, etc. for their news. They would also go to the equivalently well-regarded online news sites. News-seekers would also likely pay attention to a blogger who credibly claims to have spoken to the aliens or was there when it happened. Perhaps he is even Twittering his encounters in real time from his cell phone.

The point is that you either have to have pre-existing credibility, the product of consistently breaking meaningful news in a timely manner, or you have to have an amazing angle.

That was an extreme example.

Let's say that there is an acquisition that has been in the works for nearly a week. It is no longer extremely new when it finally occurs, but it is still being discussed because it real. It has manifested. This is like being inundated for weeks by the scientific and trivial explanations of an upcoming lunar eclipse. It's not particularly novel but people write about it the next day anyways.

As I said before, it takes a certain degree of credibility to break these stories, both new and "old" news. Credibility that many of us - myself included - lack.

The best thing that we can do is to comment on the commentators. React to the reactors. In short: blog the bloggers.

By commenting on the blogs and articles of credible sources, you add to your own credibility - assuming, of course, that your comments are meaningful.

Doing this puts yourself and - more importantly - your ideas in front of the influencers and the people being influenced. If your ideas are valid, that audience might be convinced to go to you first. Gradually your role will change from a commentator to more of a reactionary.

In a sense, this evolution is a testament to the conversational - that is to say - reciprocal nature of new media. The readers not only determine what is written, but who writes it and from what perspective.

Power to the people.

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