Thursday, February 03, 2011

What's a Blog Post Best For?

One of the fool notions I like to play with from time to time has to do with the relationship of different types of ideas to the ideal format for their expression. That sounds pretty high-falutin', but it's really pretty simple. Books (of the nonfiction variety) are good for extended examinations of a subject. Explorations of some aspect of the human condition might be best presented in an essay, but also might find their best form in a novel or a short story. And, of course, all sorts of things can find their way into poetry. (There are also, of course, ideas that don't belong to the word at all, and are developed into a piece of music, a painting, or some other artistic expression.)

So what's a blog post best for? For most of us bloggers, a blog post is likely the only means we have available to get an idea out to an audience. But suppose you had plenty of choice?

Suppose, for a minute, that you're a popular and critically-acclaimed author. Your publisher is likely to accept any book you send them, fiction or non-fiction. A magazine editor would be delighted to get an article from you. Even a newspaper editor would likely be pleased to get a guest editorial from you. Under what circumstances might you choose to put an idea in a blog post?

I don't have a good answer to the question, though I've got a guess or two. Blog posts make it very easy to link to something that's already out there and comment on it. It's not only easy, but intellectually honest: you can write a blog post vehemently disagreeing with something you've seen, but your link to the original item so that readers can decide for themselves.

Blog posts also carry the potential to be a marketing tool. A magazine editor is unlikely to print your explanation as to why everyone should run out and buy your latest novel (now in paperback!). But, you can do that in a blog - especially if you provide enough actual content to attract and keep an audience.

I think that blog posts are good for a quick exploration of a relatively narrow subject - why your team's manager should be fired, why a particular politician is an idiot (or a saint), or why Art Garfunkel's work on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is the greatest male vocal performance in pop music history. (It is, you know.)

Blog posts are also great containers for "how-tos" for relatively simple procedures, from cooking an omelet to installing a new hard drive.

What do you thing? What are blog posts the ideal format for from your perspective?

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T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.