Critiquing the Blogosphere

I posted a story at my other site/blog (Frozen Toothpaste) earlier this week about the blogosphere. It doesn’t — strictly speaking — relate to blog design, but it does offer some interesting perspective into what is usually successful in the blogosphere and what isn’t.

I’ve chosen a few excepts, which or below, or you can click here to read the whole thing. The story also features a demonstrative graph, which — though ugly — illuminates the concept.

I should probably also make clear that I don’t claim a blog can be conclusively marked on such a system. Where I may see a deeply flawed blog full of less-than-interesting writing, others may see the greatest literature of the 21st century. Nonetheless, I think most people would, overall, agree to the basic formulation of this system.

The vertical axis in this scheme is specificity, or how relevant a blog is to the potential audience. It is rated inversely, thus, the more specific a blog is, the lower it’s “specificity” score. At one extreme of this axis, you find the extremely personal. (”I fed my dog today, a little more than usual. He’s seemed really hungry recently. I wonder if it’s because I painted the study.”) These are blogs that are essentially relevant to the writer and the ten people who know them best, after that most people just aren’t interested.

At the other extreme of this axis you find something with very wide, if not universal appeal. This is the type of thing you’re likely to find in most newspapers or magazines. It should be noted that something can be specific to say, gadget nerds, but still be rather universally read. Thus, specificity could be seen as self-centeredness. The difference is between the friend who only talks about herself, and the one that’s more interested in sharing ideas, facts, news, or cool videos—which are interesting to the audience of readers, not merely the author.

The horizontal axis of this system rates a blog’s novelty. At the very low end of this spectrum you find the very common. As just one example, it’s the posting of “This is so funny” followed by a link or the embedded video of Miss Teen South Carolina, or Chris Crocker, or Seth Green imitating Chris Crocker—video or links which, when posted, have already been seen by the entire interested audience. At the other end of this spectrum is the extremely novel, which in these internet times is usually a truly unique idea of the author, an obscure link the audience has never seen before, or well-presented insight into another perspective on the world.

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