To blog or not to blog?

30 10 2007

I want to thank everyone who has been reading my blog over the last couple of weeks. BlackOtaku has had more than 1,000 page views. Most of you got here by searching for news about the cover art for Kanye West’s new album. Some of you got here because you were interested in anime or manga or more specifically hentai (naughty). Many of you sit in front of me in class and have to visit and comment on my site to get a grade. No matter, I thank all of you for your support. I love writing this blog because it gives me an excuse to not only read about Japanese popular culture but also to analyze it.

Photo from Flickr

My professor wanted me to post about what I thought makes a blog a blog and what specifically makes a “good blog.” While answering those questions, I also came up with a stance on the role blogs play for the newsroom. BTW I am using examples selected by my professor. Some times I feel that the class is restricting as to the sites we study and the online styles we are taught. I’m currently boycotting The Washington Post web site because it’s my professor’s favorite web site to use as an example (I think he is secretly a WP recruiter). Check out some of the sites I enjoy in my blogroll to the right. Let me know what blogs you guys visit.

What makes a blog a blog?

The more experience I’m gaining with blogging the more I am seeing my original perception of it be broken down. A blog is an online journal. There are no magical elements that make up a blog. It can have photos; it can not have photos. It can have posts in the form of articles; it can have posts in the form of videos and two-sentence blurbs. The only thing that I can observe that makes all blogs the same is the fact that a blogger can freely publish whatever he or she wants at virtually no cost (as a blog gets more popular a blogger may pay for maintenance).

What is a good blog?

In my experience a blog is “good” if one of the following applies: the blogger really knows what he or she is talking about, the blog topic is niche enough that there is not a lot of information about it, the target audience of the blog is a minority that has been ignored or under-served by the mass media, the blogger is a semi-famous person or the blog is written about a semi-famous person. Let’s use the examples my professor gave me.

  • An example of a blogger who really knows his stuff is David Pogue, the NY Times tech columnist. Being a technology blogger is no easy task. Believe me, I know. There is always some computer geek who knows more than you and who is not afraid to hide behind his monitor and tell you how offensively wrong you are. David has a fan base that sticks by him and reads his blog religiously knowing that David will give them accurate information. What I found interesting is that when David admitted in a post that he didn’t know everything and proceeded to ask the readers questions he received almost 500 comments for that post. Blogging is more than being just a know-it-all. You have to engage your audience.
  • Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has his own blog. He’s a famous guy meaning that people care about what he says and what he thinks and what he is doing. His blog posts about his appearance on the hit show “Dancing With The Stars” always have a lot of comments. I bet you if Britney Spears had a blog it would be the most popular site on the internet just because people are so interested in her daily life.
  • My professor did not provide a blog, which I would think fit the niche-subject criteria. We talked about the concept of a unique blog briefly in class. Blogs detract in value when there are more blogs about that same subject (think of all of the Hurricane Katrina blogs). The trick is to pick a blog topic that is narrow and give it your own spin on it that nobody else can copy.
  • An example of a blog with an unique audience is Slashdot.org. Like it says at the top it’s “news for nerds.” I don’t know too many people who would care about Wolfram’s (2,3) machine not being universal. Then again, I’m sure the people who would care would find this blog very useful. Another blog I know of that would fit well into this category is Richard Prince’s Journal-isms, which he uses to report news about minority journalism.
  • I like The News & Observer’s Under the Dome blog. Even the little cartoons of the elected officials give a nice sense of flair. The blog covers North Carolina politics. Commenting on well-known political figures like presidential hopeful John Edwards is a way to get your blog read. My Kanye West posts, which I wrote months ago, still continue to be my most popular posts. The success of blogs such as A Socialite’s Life and PerezHilton.com show just how powerful name-dropping can be in the blogging world.

Can news organizations contribute to the blogosphere?

Yes. They contribute more than they know. They often start the discussion. I think news organizations have the wrong idea about the flow of information. They want to keep news monopolized for themselves, however, they are no longer able to do this. The fact that people can publish news themselves, however, does not make newspapers or magazines less relevant. In fact, I think it makes their news travel faster. Have you noticed that most bloggers post about articles they read in printed publications?

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2 responses

2 12 2007
fromthevault

The way you lead into this post was very interesting. I like how you integrated Thornburg’s suggested examples into ideas you already have of good blogs and information as to why you find those sites interesting and successful.

19 12 2007
About 40% of Japanese Men Sit To Tinkle « BLACK OTAKU

[…] As I have said before, newspapers do not have to worry about disappearing in the digital age because many blog posts stem from news articles. This is the case with this awesome nugget of little known Japanese fact. Mainichi Daily News reported that about 40 percent of adult Japanese men sit on the toilet to urinate, according to a survey done by Matsushita Electric Works Ltd., a manufacturer of Western-style toilets. […]

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