The self-imposed straitjacket

17 March 2006

Seth Godin kicked off a round of blogger introspection (of which this post is a part, I admit it) on how things can go wrong when a blogger posts too often. This rapidly turned into a discussion in one part on the coming attention deficit crisis, which remains something of a myth - most people are ignored most of the time right now, blogging does not change that. For the other part, it became a question of how often a blogger should post, as Problogger posed it. And that is not a Zen question by the way.

Problogger Darren Rowse gave several answers. None of which were: "When you've got something to say." Which seemed the most obvious answer. But, then again, I'm not a pro-blogger: I don't have an AdSense beast to feed.

It seems that, for many people, regularity is the secret of blogging, not content. This argument is, at one level, satisfying for someone who has worked in old media for quite a while - it's all about coming out on time, everytime at the same time. Yet, it seems crazy to impose daily posting limits on a medium that is geared up to irregular posting intervals. RSS aggregators make it easy to keep up with blogs - or any form of website - that spits out stuff intermittently.

I can see how high daily post-count blogs get more hits than those that post at irregular intervals. One is simply statistical - throw enough stuff at the wall and some of it will stick there and get noticed. The other is that the one rare post from a low-frequency blog is easy to miss in a barrage of new gadgets from Engadgets or the random thoughts of a machine-gun blogger such as Robert Scoble.

I had to move the comments feeds out of one NetNewsWire group into their own group because they were overwhelming the posts. I can see the same thing happening for some of the bloggers I have currently listed in my main groups of interest because I'm always skipping past their posts - for me raising a Yogi Berra-style thought: "There's nothing to read here, there's too many posts." The comments at Problogger echoed those concerns, as kicked off by Godin. Like a lot of people, I'm culling the prodigious and staying with the selective.

Some of the blogs that came in for the most criticism were targeted blogs that have set themselves up to be comprehensive. As a result, they are trapped by their own success. Everyone with a gadget wants to be on Engadget - and so that's where they wind up. I have never known attempts to be comprehensive in media such as magazines to be successful - that is what directories are for. I cannot see the world of the blog being any different. This is where sites like Engadget maybe have to look at their publishing model and start to sweep the stuff that is dull, but useful to have around into a wiki - and keep the blog for the real news and gossip. When all you've got all the flexibility of web protocols and languages to play with, why stick with just one format - especially when that format goes a bit stale?