For the past few days, I’ve been brooding about Ed Bott’s recent rant about Techmeme being a “template for a gazillion me-too bloggers who manage to write down a dozen posts each day without ever expressing an ingenious thought”.
Given Techmeme’s well-deserved reputation as being the place to quickly discover what’s happening within the tech world, Bott’s assessment is blunt, critical, perhaps unfair but not entirely without merit. He’s right; there’s an awful lot of blog posts offering little or no insight aside from pertaining to another blog. Instead of adding to the conversation, many of those posts encounter simple noise and bandwagon jumping.
The question that begs to be asked is why does there seem to be so much me-too blogging as against people contributing to different perspectives? Here’s what I think:
1. Writing original thought-provoking blog content may be a challenge. It takes time, thought and energy. The matter, however, is that many bloggers are often in need of time, which suggests it’s difficult to return up with insightful thoughts. As Louis Gray talked about during a recent post, many bloggers are time-strapped with blogging and being on other social/content vehicles like Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, RSS readers, etc. If you’re doing all that, when does one have time to think Big Thoughts?
2. Many bloggers just want to be a part of the conversation before it moves on. Here’s what happens in many cases. You see a hot story and you’re keen to leap in but not willing to easily leave a discussion someone else’s blog. Solution: Pound out a fast, no-frills post that creates you are feeling good about being on top of the recent story albeit it’s piling on. I’m willing to guess that fifty of the posts a few red-hot stories on Techmeme were posts that just parroted the news reports.
3. Writing original content often provides a coffee return on investment. Let’s face it, traffic is what drives many bloggers, which explains why checking your stats on a daily basis may be a key part of blogging. Once you write original content that falls outside the recent news of the day, there’s an honest chance it’s not getting to get much love or traffic.
How come? The most important reason is most are spending such a lot of time reading or writing about the large news of the day, your original, thought-provoking post gets buried. As a result, it’s easy to think “Why to put such a lot of effort into writing quality content when there’s instant gratification (and traffic) by jumping on the bandwagon”.
4. Unless your blogging to survive is like Mike Arrington or Erick Schonfeld, or you’re a tech reporter like Mathew Ingram or a conference junkie like Robert Scoble, you don’t have steady access to people and new ideas that always spawn original blog posts.
5. Vanity and Envy. If you actually want to ascertain your name on Techmeme, write on the highest news on Techmeme. If you would like to speak about whatever TechCrunch is covering, a blog on what Arrington cares about.
As much as writing original, insightful posts are every blogger’s goal, the truth is it’s difficult. Sometimes, the ideas aren’t flowing but you continue to get to feed the blog a day. Sometimes, jumping into the conversation of the day just feels good.
At an equivalent time, however, writing original content is so much more satisfying because there’s a way of accomplishment that you’ve been inspired by something you’ve read or talked about with someone about. The things that make blogging so rewarding are those nuggets of original content gold.
Just by coincidence, I stumbled across a blog widget tool called Skribit, which provides how for people that read your blog to form suggestions for brand spanking new posts. one among the guarantees is it’ll “Cure writer’s block overnight”. I just installed it – let’s see if there’s any devour.