Yes, you guessed it right, these are the times that my blogging frequency dips. I had this before, Scoble had it, everybody else did. Be it work schedule, a new toy to play with, or just plain laziness, blogging doesn’t seem to be hip anymore. I no longer enjoy reading most blogs, but those which I do enjoy keep going strong. So, close to the fifth birthday of my blog, I’m rethinking the whole concept of blogging.
Combination of Courier New (introduced on Windows 3.1) and
Consolas (introduced on Windows Vista, 15 years later)
The main thing about blogging is the content, as always. You write stuff. This kept it unique from other means of self-expression on the web. A long time ago, blogging is a cost-effective way of moving information around. Text is small in size and easy to digest. But when bandwidth price went down, people suddenly have the ability to start uploading terabytes of multimedia.
The iPod came and podcasts too. Then Youtube took off, consuming even more bandwidth. Then smartphones and iPhone , then Twitter and other micro-blogging clones, then their derivatives. I’ve tried almost all of them. Nothing feels more home then a blog.
Podcasts took too long to listen, and the idea of multitasking while listening is totally absurd. You can either do one or the other, not both. Youtube took too long to stream, and if you actually do have proper bandwidth, it’ll be in the location where too many people can take a peek at what’s playing (think the office’s unlimited 24Mbps line). Micro-blogs were cool, you can blast whatever you’re doing to the world in an instant, but then information overload happened.
What’s good from the blogs that I like is that it actually uses multimedia coolness without being dependent on it. Some pictures are good (think Flickr blog), one video per post is a bit too much, and podcast can be done on weekends to recap over what happened (think Engadget podcasts). A lot other put tweets on sidebar as an easy solution to keep the “always updated” look.
Conclusion, text-only is boring, but too little text is cheesy (think Friendster and Myspace). Balance them out.
One of the value propositions of blogging was being able to solicit public opinion over what you have written. They will agree, then disagree, then flame each other, then realizing that the whole conversation was just useless, they died down without resolution. Even worse, the commentators did it anonymously.
While commenting was a good driving force behind the popularity of blogging, after some time, some people hated it. They said, commenting on a blog is an irresponsible behavior due to the lack of attribution/reputation (citation needed). Sure you can allow comments only from a reputable group, but that’s not the point of having the textbox there in the first place, right? So those people advocates you to write your own blog post on your own blog instead of writing a comment, and then create a trackback to the original post. By being written on your blog, you explicitly state that this is your own opinion and not some randomly smart bystander-Joe. Some did this, some not.
Now we have Twitter. And Facebook. You can, basically, put a link to someone’s blog and comment about it. My gut feeling says that this is an acceptable behavior, as you will be putting those comments together with all of your other stuff (not with other junk comments written by a spambot on the said blog post). Was thinking about a way to extend trackback to incorporate these, found out Scoble did it with his “Reactions” feature. Note to self: copy, no, steal that feature.
If required, create a follow up post addressing the comments. More quality content your way.
Conclusion, no direct comment under the post, but provide other means (including e-mail feedback). Keep your posts clean.
Open ended categorization, what an oxymoron! Tags are good if you have a lot more content than your tags. If you have more tags than content, well, that’s not a categorization is it?
I fancy how StackOverflow use tags. You may pick any, but not more than five, and only from a predefined list, unless you’ve gained enough experience to understand how tags work, only then you can create a new one. There were even occasions where a certain tag or tags are combined into one, more general and popular, tag. On the other hand, Flickr has open tags, but the amount of content is just overwhelming. They just hit 4,000,000,000 images on mid-October 2009.
Conclusion, if you’re the only one producing your content, don’t bother with tag. Stick with age-old categorization instead.
They are more relevant than ever. RSS was huge, but now that everyone has it, why not provide JSON?
The question then: do we syndicate full text or just some partial, teaser text? This is a very sensitive issue for content producers which depends on advertising income. Provide full text and there will be no page view. Provide partial text and people get annoyed. Even worse, provide only title. For this time being, I tend to side with those who provides partial text, but not without reservation. The partial text should be written well enough to imply the real content without revealing too much (lest your reader will not read it wholly), like writing an abstract for a paper, or like the first paragraph of this post.
Conclusion, more format is always welcome, carefully constructed content is win.
If I forgot any element, then that element is either too small to care about or is just a gimmick that won’t have any real effect on your blog. Disagree with me? Post your own set of criteria.
Now given my criteria for a blog, any engine worth trying?