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The Evolving Blogger

August 9, 2011

What is it to blog?  To communicate to an audience?  To exchange with your peers?  To express?  To rant?   Or to rave?

Well, it’s all of these things and more.  And the concept of blogging is given a beautiful treatment by Bora Zivkovic, Scientific American’s blog editor.

Zivkovic’s piece really got me thinking on two aspects of my own blogging: Personality, and the Big, Fat Period.

Personality.  I’ve wondered, “what tone is best for presenting my ideas?”  I’ve long thought that by appearing objective, academic, and – let’s be honest – a little flat,  that I’d build more trust with the reader.  That I’d appear more “worth reading” on a issue.  But what if this is wrong?  Zivkovic suggests that a blogger will be far more read if he writes with a voice, offers a view of himself that people can judge to be real and credible.

[O]ur brains are attuned to listening to other people, and to evaluate how trustworthy they are by listening to their voice, their personality. The 20th century media style forces the writers to assume the impersonal form, which in the age of the Web is disconcerting – where is the voice, where is the personality, how can I possibly trust the writing of a person I cannot quite figure out? So in such cases we have to fall back on trusting the brand, the banner up on top.

And I agree.  I find this in the blogs that I follow, and I find this in other areas of my life.  Friends.  Salesmen.  Possible new hires at work.  More personality, more information to work with.

The big, fat period.  I’ve also long thought that I should only put out there ideas that are ‘rock solid’.  That are well researched, comprehensive, and exhaustive.  But how many comments have I gotten?  (39 + more on Facebook)   Or how many emails have been generated?  (20 or so)  This is far below what I’ve been looking for.

So maybe I need to work less with the big, fat period? And more with the open and unfinished? Zivkovic thinks so.

[G]ood bloggers know that, if they want to get comments and a vigorous discussion, they need to have some I’s undotted and some T’s uncrossed. They purposefully leave openings, leave stuff unfinished, some lines uncolored, there for the commenters to fill in with their own crayons.

Over the past 8 months, I’ve learned that blogging as an art and letter takes time, consideration, passion, and evolution.  It’s that last part that I’ll be trying to take forward today by putting my personality more out there, and by putting up more posts facilitating discussion.

So what do you think?  Any suggestions on how I can make my blogging better?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2011 9:22 am

    I enjoyed this blogpost, mainly because it gives me another dimension with which to appreciate how blogs are written. More importantly, to me at least, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog around whole health and nutrition (with some emphasis on paleo). My trouble is that I want to offer something different than what is already out there. Tons of paleo blogs offer recipes, testimonies, reiterate the studies and post links to articles. What would set mine apart, if I start one?

    I suppose the answer is just what Zivkovic is recommending: by inserting personality. You’re a pretty funny dude, Mark! Perhaps it may help to approach your blog as if you’re having a casual conversation with your friends. Make it lighthearted, tell a joke, or insert a sci-fi reference (I’m a big fan of those). I think that’s what makes Robb Wolf’s blog and podcast so successful – he writes the way he talks and its unfiltered.

    I also like what Zivkovic says about how a good blogger leaves “some lines uncolored” so that commenters can “fill in with their own crayons”. I’ve always been a color-outside-the-lines chick. Life’s just more fun that way. Although I find that when writing, this is easier said than done. But art, and anything beautiful in life, takes a hell of a lot of practice and sweat. And it won’t happen over night, but in little steps. And don’t be afraid to take a risk or be daring, either.

    Hope that’s helpful!

    • August 10, 2011 9:58 am

      Thanks, Rachel! I appreciate the support on this change up. And you really pointed out a great example with Robb Wolf. He’s got a great personality, a very approachable, down-to-earth guy who just so happens to have a paleo encyclopedia rolling around his noggin. Definitely something to aspire to.

      I hear you on the paleo blog. Honestly, I think what’s missing is the individual perspective in all of this. The paleo blogs try to speak for everyone, getting the studies out, providing recipes. But what about a blog, ideologically unfiltered, about how the paleo lifestyle affects you? For example, write on falling off the wagon, or how easy/hard it was to switch, or how what health benefits you’ve found. If I were to do it, I’d also throw in a bit of self experimentation. For example, a solo-3 day hiking trip, a foray into freediving, a long fast, a month without artificial light. Yep…sure as heck I’d read that!

      Probably the only paleo blog that has done this personal angle well is this one:

      Btw, I really enjoyed your Gravatar bio. Nice writing.

  2. August 10, 2011 8:52 pm

    you’re welcome mark! i thought about writing a paleo blog as a “diary” (for a lack of a better term), but wasn’t sure who’d be into that. maybe i will hash it out a little more and give it a try.

    damn, i made that gravatar thing ages ago when i tried to do my first blog. i was surprised to still see it up. haha!

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