Blogs suck, and absolute blogs suck absolutely

Now that I have your attention: A fellow Tech Writer (Tina—I mean Holly Harkness) turned me onto a Wired magazine article about how blogging has lost the spontaneous, personal feel, now that there are so many of them out there. According to the writer, Paul Boutin, one would have more success being heard by contributing to the Facebook-, Twitter-, Flickr-, or YouTube-ospheres, rather than the blogosphere.

Paul Boutin’s justification:

Scroll down Technorati‘s Mike Wallagher’s list of the top 100 blogs* and you’ll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can’t keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.

*Edit: Technorati’s list is long gone. Mike asked that I redirect y’all to his enhanced recreation of the post.

30 posts a day. Wow. I’d like to be able to generate enough ideas to write 30 posts a day. But if the only reason to do so is to drive content to my site in the hopes of increasing my ad revenue, then I  might as well quit now. I have a feeling that bloggers write for other purposes than making money. In fact, even a local dot-com mogul, John Chow, whose blog title says, “I Make Money Online by Telling People How Much Money I Make Online” wrote in his eBook that “People who blog only for money seldom succeed.”

Different approaches to the same subjectFrom the beginning, blogs have always been about conversation and sharing. Yes, several have advertisements on them. Yes, several have hired pro writers (for instance, Duo Consulting hired me). And yes, many do read more like online magazines than personal observations from the field. But nobody’s forcing you to read them. You can select what you want to read.

I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds through Bloglines, recommended through my friend and fellow Duo blogger, Anne Gentle. While the sheer volume of posts can be difficult to manage, I don’t have to read all of them in one sitting, only the ones I want. And Bloglines links back to the original post so I can still offer comments to be part of the community.

John Chow continues:

Blogging is about forming relationships… between you and the readers… and other blogs in your niche. It is up to you to get to know them and form this relationship. Many readers have stated that when they’re reading my blog, it’s like a one-on-one [conversation]. That was not done by accident. It’s all part of relationship blogging.

Holly Harkness’s post supports this argument. As a TechCom niche blog, her readers include other Technical Writers like Anne, Tom Johnson, and myself. She reminds us that not all TechCom’s will approach the same subject matter the same way. She uses the example of writing about oysters as a subject:

In the blogosphere—even the narrow tech comm corner of the blogosphere—there is room for two, or even five or ten simultaneous oyster diatribes because we all have different audiences with some overlapping on the edges. If we are truly speaking in our own voice, we won’t be talking about oysters in exactly the same way. This may or may not be useful to our audience.

There is some truth in what Paul said. As the web expands, it incorporates more rich media, and text-only sites are losing popularity. Heck, my seven-year-old surfs YouTube, and my five-year-old mashes up Transformers videos, so I know what he’s talking about when he says:

Social multimedia sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook have since made publishing pics and video as easy as typing text. Easier, if you consider the time most bloggers spend fretting over their words.

From my perspective, rich media and microblogging applications complement, rather than replace, a well-written blog. That’s the subject of this post. A blog should be well-written, and well-managed. I wrote a post for Duo about how nobody wants to read a stupid blog. The concept is that your content should have meaning to you and to your audience, and put a personal face on an otherwise sterile business website.

Also, a self-hosted blog can be customized more easily than the well-used rich media sites. I may share the story of how I’ve hacked the theme to play with the meta tags and the Google search box. In addition to learning how to hack a WordPress theme, I want to improve your experience when reading my blog. I wasn’t able to customize my pages to this extent using blogger or wordpress.com.