Posts Tagged writing

Of broadcasts and boats

As the self-appointed supervisor of new media engagement (a title I made up exactly one moment ago) at March, I’m often called upon to explain to colleagues and clients alike what blogging is all about. “We need to get into blogging!” they say… much in the same tone that I might suggest “I need to start investing!” with nary a clue as to how it works beyond the most basic conceptual level.

So it was with satisfaction and a tinge of glee that I stumbled through M3’s Green Data Center Blog onto this brilliant article by Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic: Why I Blog. It is not a short article, but I implore you to read it – take it on the train with you… here’s the printer-friendly version.

Sullivan, a journalist, is able to get to the heart of blogging in a way that we in PR can understand:

[…] the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks.

Think about broadcasting versus publishing. This makes intuitive sense for most of us – obviously a blog is more akin to a 24-hour news channel than a weekly (or even daily) paper… and yet, I still see people every day of the week approaching blogging as if they’ve been tasked with writing a doctoral thesis. First comes the idea, then comes about a week of procrastinating, then a draft, then revising, approving, waiting, worrying… Sullivan describes what happened when he finally got into the swing of “broadcast publishing” at Slate:

I wrote as I’d write an e-mail—with only a mite more circumspection. This is hazardous, of course, as anyone who has ever clicked Send in a fit of anger or hurt will testify. But blogging requires an embrace of such hazards, a willingness to fall off the trapeze rather than fail to make the leap.

The number of bloggers who make careless faux pas in content or tone is dwarfed by the number of bloggers who never get anything published because they’re too busy hemming and hawing over whether it’s good enough. It’s good enough. Do it. Now.

As for why we should bother in the first place – what makes broadcasting better than publishing, what makes online better than print, Sullivan appeals to the connective properties of blogging:

A blog, therefore, bobs on the surface of the ocean but has its anchorage in waters deeper than those print media is technologically able to exploit. It disempowers the writer to that extent, of course. The blogger can get away with less and afford fewer pretensions of authority. He is-more than any writer of the past-a node among other nodes, connected but unfinished without the links and the comments and the track-backs that make the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.

Everything you broadcast online is woven into the fabric of the global discussion of that topic. This post is not a lone scrap of cloth – it is sewn into other material about the philosophy of blogging, about Andrew Sullivan, about The Atlantic, about Slate and beyond – an integrated piece of the quilt of discourse. It’s not all about you. But you are a part of it.

Neat, huh?

They give me a maximum allowance of four mixed metaphors per post here, so I’m out!


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