Thursday, January 19, 2006

Advice Column

Amazingly, the Los Angeles Times has been dispensing lots of good rhetorical advice to would-be bloggers this month. Given just how little writing instruction has been devoted to electronic forms, I'm glad to see it, particularly in the mainstream media. A January 4th Los Angeles Times article, "Have we gone blog wild? As Web musings get ever more specialized, it's a good time to be crazy about food," addresses three basic principles for successful blogging: 1) focus on a niche audience, 2) keep it current, and 3) compensate for the blog format with greater interactivity and vividness. Good bloggers focus on just one food or type of culinary experience: only burritos, only pho, only pizza by the slice. And they improve this form of narrowcasting with video clips or clever interactive graphics like animated maps.

(Why is it that political blogs so rarely follow the specificity rule and yet are successful? I tend to think the reasons are anthropological; readers value being members of the tribe more than the actual transfer of novel or useful information.)

There's more good rhetorical advice in an LA Times piece on January 11th: "Blogging: When the Water Cooler Will No Longer Do." The author compares the hazards of on-the-job blogging to the dangers of e-mail forwarding to explain why company blogging can stymie a career in the volatile environment of office politics. Certainly blogs have some potential protections of anonymity. But they are much more public than many naive writers realize, particularly since so much of web discourse is within the ken of a google search. Besides, the lure of an implied audience for a lively blog promotes the use of incriminating, specific details. As the old adage goes, writers show, and then their bosses can tell.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Julia Lupton said...

I read the LA Times food-blogging piece with great interest, too. In my estimation, Virtualpolitik makes the cut -- an original focus, a strong and engaging visual dimension, and interactivity. I would add to this a strong authorial voice -- though NOT the kind of chatty self-exposure that we see in diary-blogs. Rather, a sense of judgment and a governing intelligence (humor helps, too!) in relation to distinctive material is part of what blog-surfers are looking for.

6:02 AM  

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