Monday, September 28, 2009

Some Thought about the How

For a long time, especially during the run of Lose an Eye, most of my blogger navel-gazing was focus on the "why". "Why" am I blogging? Is it in an attempt to sway policy? To increase page views? For others? For myself? Interesting questions that all focus on the "why" of blogging. One thing that I never contemplated (but probably should have) was "how".

How am I structuring posts? How am I getting my content? Is it original, or mainly cribbed from outside sources? In the early days of my blog most posts relied strongly on extensive blockquotes from outside sources. (usually As time passed I noticed that I moved away from blockquoting and toward a format that was more driven by original content with hyperlinks back to source material, but only in passing with limited (or no) blockquoting.

As the blog matured the attribution improved as well. This is something that I think is vital to blogs going forward: providing full and complete attribution to quoted text. This is especially important if you have a tendency to refer back to past blockquotes as "your blogging" in current posts (Something I see done quite often, and used to be very guilty of myself). All of which raises a larger question: If you are a cut n' paste blog, can it really be said that you "blogged" an issue? Or did you just highlight someone else's point, a la a feed reader etc.?

These are the questions of "how" that bloggers don't often ask themselves. Questions that probably need to be asked if blogging is to ever mature beyond its current state. This doesn't mean that any model is right/wrong, superior/inferior or preferable over another, but it does imply that bloggers need to have some idea of how they are doing what they do in order to accentuate the why that they are doing it.

Because, most of us, know why we blog, even if we don't want to admit it. There's a certain ego-stroke associated with having your thoughts put out there and then to have them given credence by others, no matter how small the audience. Even those of us who primarily blog for ourselves know this to be true. In short: We all know why.

What we don't think about is "how?" How to get that message across? How to have my ego stroked at a sufficient level to keep me from going off on other people constantly? Some bloggers have figured this out, and some haven't. Have I? Probably not. One thing that the Almanac was created for is to allow me some further flexibility of form than I had with LaE. That's why the "Houston Area Asides" is now my Diigo feed. This also allows me to incorporate news of the Nation, World and whimsy alongside that of Houston and Texas. The food blog and sports blog are linked here as well. For all of the teasing about my number of blogs, in reality I only have one, with different sections to help me organize. I find it cleaner and easier to maintain that way, but my output has not significantly increased or decreased, I'm just placing the same amount of posts in different places.

As far as content goes the evolution of blogging (in my opinion) is moving more toward original content and away from heavy blockquoting with no value add.* I also think that multi-media is going to the new norm. Look for changes in that area coming soon to the Almanac, especially cross-platform with other bloggers. From podcasts to videocasts all of the major blogs will have these features in the future.

One things for sure in almost any medium: The one constant is change. Just like Isolated Desolation ran its course and passed on so did LaE and I'm sure there will be a time in the future that the Almanac will as well. I foresee a time in the future when I'll stop blogging, moving to another medium entirely.

These are the 'how' questions that need to be asked, and they have been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I'm moving forward with this blog, and wrapping up some unfinished business from LaE. (Read: the Houston Political Dictionary)

With that in mind I'm going to create a simple poll to the side of this to get input from my small readership. Very simply: How do you structure your blog? The poll closes on October 5th. If you answer "other" please put your explenation in the comments, they will be approved for publication as soon as possible.

Think about it and answer.

*When I speak of blogs I mean blogs that are not Party Blogs. Those blogs will always be driven by outside content because they are nothing more than a reflection of how a party feels about issues that affect them. The role of the Party blog is not to drive conversation, nor is it to examine arguments. Their role is to dutifully regurgitate the argument of the side with which they disagree despite the fact that the labels they are using are outdated, or just blatantly false.

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