In the beginning was the blog

Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents, has a number of insights on blogging and engaging online. I have been blogging here for eight years and before that experimented with a few other blogs. I thought I’d compare my experience with Brogan’s recent 21 point primer for blogging.

First of all, I strongly agree with the first 14 points, which basically say that you should focus on a topic/theme, write regularly and develop your own style through practice. At Rule #15, Brogan says that, “My best (most popular) posts were the ones I spent the least time writing“. I have had the opposite experience. My popular posts are the long detailed ones that can double as white papers. For example, one of my most popular posts for 2012 is Three Principles for Net Work (1,500 words). My most visited post last year was Learning, Complexity and the Enterprise (5,300 words). Each of these took a while to write. They were not done in half an hour.

This reinforces Brogan’s Rule #21, “There’s not a single rule on this list that isn’t breakable. Break all the rules you want and enjoy yourself.” As we start the Personal Knowledge Mastery workshop this week, the topic of blogs has already come up. For me, this blog is a central part of my online sense-making. I know that for others, a blog is not the best medium. However, you will never know until you try. Social media are like languages; they take practice to develop mastery.

My experience shows that only a small percentage of the population will take to blogging. When the only online social media were blogs, we all thought they were wonderful; and they are. But other media, like Twitter, have shown greater participation levels. I usually recommend micro-blogging as a start to online sense-making. The benefits are visible quicker and the effort is not as great. No single medium is best for everyone and today people have many choices. As much as I value blogging, I would not try to get everyone doing it. There are a lot of dead blogs floating around the Web. I hope their owners are still engaging online, perhaps with videos, slideshows, or podcasts. On the Internet, the written word is no longer our only option, and that’s a good thing.

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