Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lessons learned

    This is not a typical blog post. Well, maybe for me it is. Then again, this isn't a typical blog. When I first started this particular blog I had some fairly high hopes for it. It is fair to say that I have let this blog down a bit. So, this post is all about the lessons I learned from trying to blog.

    Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. This blog has been very deficient in purpose and direction. No matter how motivated or driven I was to write something, it never really felt like any one post was the "defining post" or that one post should naturally follow the previous post. Most blogs have a "theme" or at the very least a rather broad topic. This blog, lacking any real purpose or direction has become more or less a dumping ground for things I occasionally found interesting or happened to be bored enough to write about. Not something that will keep people coming back to read your latest post.

    Being personable without being personal. This is a balancing act that most people who write for public reading often wrestle with. While in a "blog" it is quite normal to write about your personal opinion on a given subject, it should never be made personal. Recently in the news a blogger was sued for some $250 million dollars. She used her 100+ blogs to slander a man and accuse him of everything from tax fraud to embezzlement. Try as she might, she was unable to use the protections that are afforded to members of the press. Bloggers are, generally speaking, not journalists. The judge decided that since she (the blogger in question) had no journalism training, had shown no means of fact checking, had often posted the same story re-written across multiple blogs and under different pseudo names that she was in fact liable for damages, and thus not protected as a journalist. I think this is an important distinction that many bloggers just don't or refuse to accept. If you are going call yourself an independent journalist, you need to hold yourself to the same standards as a "real" journalist. If you want to find out more about the case mentioned, Google is your friend.

    Editing counts. I cannot tell you how many blogs I follow.  I really don't know. However, what surprises me the most is the misuse of words. Incorrect spelling is on the decline, but I do think people should actually read what they have written. Auto correct can kill it for me. One blog in particular has finally driven me away. While it was a good source of tech news, the sheer number of misused words made each "article" not only annoying to read, but forced me to focus what the author was trying to say rather than just read the article and be done with it. The biggest is offenders are"to, too and two;" with "by, bye and buy" coming in a close second. Personally, this really drives me nuts. If you are going to write for public reading, at least have more than a tenuous grasp on your chosen profession.

    Style is nothing without substance. There is no way to count the number of blogs that have a good or bad style. It really is rather subjective. However, there is such a thing as too much. Bright neon pink should never border lime green. I am sure you have seen them. It's not just blogs that are guilty of this, many "legitimate" sites do this as well. I myself played around with the templates here on blogger.com. In the end, I settled on the current "template" because it was easy to look at allowed me to focus on the content. Granted, the content is more of a mashup of random ideas that would and could easily be seen as a feng-shui nightmare, but it is what it has become.

    With all of these lessons learned I now have to make a choice; reshape my current work or start fresh and try again. Blogging requires commitment, focus, direction and skill. Well, to do it correctly it does. I have many demands on my time, and many more that I should put ahead of a "hobby." Then again, everyone needs a hobby. That's their one escape to forget about the rest of the world, at least for a little while.

    This then, is the end.