Saturday, March 18, 2006

Tipping Teapots and Blogs: How little blogs can become big

I'm reading "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell (excellent through the first third or so) and it has me wondering two things:

1) What are the factors that make a blog "tip." Is it the one golden post that gets linked to over and over again (in Gladwellian terminology, an unusually "sticky" post)? Is it consistent, quality content that is finally recognized by an influential website or fellow blogger (Gladwell's "Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen")? Or is it something else, something more nuanced?

2) How do I make my own blog tip? Having hit the four month mark here at Farr Ago News I'm starting to see a modest uptick in traffic, but nothing yet to write home about. If anybody has suggestions specific to this blog - whether design, description, content, or anything else - I'd love to hear them.


Blogger Potentilla said...

Interesting question.

Why do you WANT to make it tip? What is its USP? I haven't read all your back posts so excuse me if you make it clear somewhere - but many blogs have very clear brand images "I'm going to rant from x political viewpoint"; "I'm witty about trivial stuff in my life"; "I'm going to tell you about my interesting job".

As an avid consumers of blogs (but a relatively infrequent commenter), I would say, be interesting (helpful, right), never rant about stuff about which you are ignorant (loads of bloggers who are educated and sceptical still seem to think that entitles them to rant about things like the Jyllands Posten cartoons without knowing even basic facts) and don't do too many posts that link to an article you have to read to make sense of the post - personally I either can't be bothered to click through on the article, or else I never come back to the post. Also, I don't like the "read more" convention, but maybe that's just me.

I just came here from a comment of yours on Orac, so probably one answer is you should comment on other people's blogs!

Sun Mar 19, 03:02:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tim Kanwar said...

Thanks for the comments and suggestions! You very quickly identified one of the major problems that I see in my blog: I’m not sure what the USP (I assume that this refers to ‘Unique Selling Point.’ Not an acronym that I’m personally familiar with but I believe I take your meaning) of Farrago News is.

Initially I started the blog because I was concerned that I was bombarding friends, family members and colleagues with too many email digests of my thoughts and opinions about the news, and the world. Lacking a great outlet to discuss my opinions and reactions to current events as they happen, I thought I’d try blogging.

So as to why I want the blog to tip the answer is clear: I value the diversity of opinions, viewpoints, and backgrounds that the web makes available. Rather than inflicting my commentary upon personal acquaintances, who may or may not be interested, I hope to join and to cultivate a community of individuals who are interested in the same topics of conversation, but who don’t necessarily share the same perspective.

Now just what are those aforementioned topics of conversation? That is still unclear, even to me. I have an abiding interest in science education and policy, particularly in the areas of genetics, bioethics, and medical ethics. Beyond that I read a number of newspapers, blogs, journals, etc. and simply find myself wanting to agree, or to disagree, and to see what others think. I guess, more than anything else, I really like to discuss, argue, debate different points of view. I find it both exhilarating and fascinating.

I’m not sure where that leaves my USP, but I appreciate you flagging it and know that it’s something I need to work on. And thank you for the specific tips – not relying too much on click-through article links for context, eliminating the “read more” convention (which I’ve started to do in the past week or so), and, of course, commenting on other blogs.

If you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear those as well.


Sun Mar 19, 03:33:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Photostream said...

But "cultivat(ing) a community of individuals who are interested in the same topics of conversation, but who don’t necessarily share the same perspective." isn't the same thing as going mass market with your blog. My site gets about 1000 hits per day, but most of these are silent hits. I have about 10 regular correspondents - some via email and some via comments - and these 10 are much more valuable to me than the other 990. Most of the 10 were not culled from the passive 1000 but rather arrived through a mutual identification process. By which I mean, I write something here, and you think 'interesting'. You find my site and write something and I think 'interesting' and so on.

I've recently had a go at defining the purpose of my blog - which you will see doesn't require it to have many readers.

What photostream is all about

Fri Mar 24, 03:30:00 PM EST  
Blogger Tim Kanwar said...

Interesting point. I appreciate the value of "silent hits", as you call them, because it does mean that the opinions are circulating. After all, I read countless news stories, blog entries, etc. every day, and comment on only a small handful of them. But that doesn't mean I'm not impacted by what I read and choose not to comment on.

Nevertheless, I think your primary point is correct: it's the few regular readers and contributors, developed by a process of mutual identification as you suggest, who will make it all worthwhile. I can't even claim ten at this point, but I can start to see the dialogue increasing on this blog, and it's exciting for me.

Thanks for your input...I'm off to check out your blog now.

Sat Mar 25, 10:57:00 AM EST  
Blogger Tim Kanwar said...

That's a truly stellar quotation. I'm reprinting it here because a) I want to be able to find it easily later and b) I think it's applicable to this blog as well, as I'm sure it is to so many of the amateur endeavors that exist in the world:

"Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong. They know less. That's why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted"
- Margaret Atwood (b. 1939), Canadian novelist, poet, critic. Dancing Girls, "Lives of the Poets," (1977).

Sat Mar 25, 11:01:00 AM EST  

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