How I Blog

I’m carrying forward something I saw on Jason Kottke’s blog last week. In a post called “How I Blog” he quoted a post from Seth Godin on “What makes an idea viral?” and broke down how Seth’s 7 points factor into his thought process when blogging – I’m going to do the same for this blog. Here are Seth’s points:

For an idea to spread, it needs to be sent and received.

No one “sends” an idea unless:
a. they understand it –
b. they want it to spread
c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one “gets” an idea unless:
a. the first impression demands further investigation
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

a. they understand it
When I started this blog, it was because I felt I understood the wiki well enough to talk about it in a public forum. I feel very passionate about what the wiki, and social software in general, can do for people and I want to spread that message.

b. they want it to spread
I also want to do it in a representative way – in other words, trying to extol the virtues of easy, fast knowledge gathering and publication on a static website would deny people the opportunity to see the right tools in action. Therefore, a blog makes the most sense for me to regularly publish my message, and the attached wiki gives people a place to see and interact with the tool that I’m promoting.

c. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
My millions are coming…any day now…
Seriously, I do well with this blog in multiple ways.
d. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits
Some posts are my own ideas and suggestions, and in others I carry forward what I’ve seen on the blogs I read regularly. My audience might not read all the blogs I do, so I point them to what others in the wiki and social software world are writing. Time, practicality, and variety are important factors here – some days (er…nights) I have something to say and enough time to write posts of my own creation, and other days I only have time to assemble a collection of relevant links. Different post types are good for keeping readers interested – if I only used a blog as a soapbox I’d probably get very boring, and my message wouldn’t benefit from the influence of other writers I read, quote, and point to.

a. the first impression demands further investigation
The visual design of my blog is meant to do this – it is kept as simple, clean and uses an unusual color to grab peoples’ attention. Most blogs use a light background; mine uses a dark background to infuse a little drama and a serious nature to the information it contains.
b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
Educators reading this blog understand the foundation ideas of their disciplines and of teaching, and this blog builds on the need to make sure those ideas are placed in today’s context – one in which students need to participate to be engaged, feel that what they’re learning is relevant and connected to the world around them, and apply to their own lives and career plans.
c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time
In a post about the publishing company Holtzbrinck starting a blogging initiative, bestselling author M.J. Rose writes that blogging to sell a book won’t work, and it actually has to happen the other way around:

“…Blogs don’t sell books when that is their intent. They sell books as a by-product when we engage the reader and the reader gets to know us. Eventually, in time, over months, we build a relationship.

Readers are savvy. They see the difference between a blog and a flog – my word for blogs that exist to flog a product/book.”

I’m here to build a relationship with my readers, and to make my blog better as more people read it and tell me what they want from it. If you have something to add, please leave a comment – I promise to read it.

Apologies, for this post the comments are closed.