Category Archives: blogging

Top Ten Tips for Unsuccessful Blogging

It seems de rigeur for bloggers these days to, at some point, post about their Top Ten Tips on how to create “the ultimate blog”, thereby causing everyone on the planet to visit thrice daily, subscribe to your feed and post themselves naked to you.

Typically, these posts are penned by the authors of blogs that people read. This is where this one is different. This blog never gets read. We are the self-styled World’s Least Popular Blog. With that in mind, if anyone were to do the exact opposite of everything we have done, then all of the above will come true, with the possible exception of people mailing themselves naked to you.

So, to the list.

1. Have A Good Old Rant
Get your grievances off your chest. Ignore social niceties. You’re not ranting at a person, you’re addressing the Universe. People like being shouted at. Being showered with phlegm is refreshing.

2. Ignore What Everyone Else Cares About
Your blog is for you to introduce yourself to the world. It’s the electronic equivalent of hijacking every major TV station in the world and shouting “Everyone listen to me!” instead the Nine O’clock News. This is what you care about. You don’t care what everyone else cares about.

3. Use Impenetrable Language.
The English language is a wonderful thing. The sad fact is that only a small percentage of the thousands of available words are in general circulation. Try to employ some of the wonderful but unloved words in the 90% of the dictionary that no-one ever visits. People like to be reminded of their ignorance.

4. Ignore Transient Trends
You don’t care about the reams of bytes documenting the nocturnal manoeuvrings of people who are famous for no reason, or about the results of some pointless new survey. You have no time for the miscellany of existence. You care about the big words; Society, Justice, Responsibility, Truth. Write about that. Britney Spears can shave her head clean off as far as you’re concerned.

5. Write the first thing that comes into your head
As with the answers to stupid quiz questions, the first thing that pops into your head is most likely correct, so go with it. With blogging, just start typing and don’t stop. Sure, you can spell check it after, but don’t you dare edit out all that invective you just typed. It’s out now, it can stay out.

6. Ignore Comments and Feedback
If you write what you want, albeit without intending to insult, and people comment on your invectives, ignore them. You’re writing for you, not for them. You didn’t ask for their opinion. You’re telling them what you think.

7. Whine to your friends about your lack of traffic.
If you have the good fortune to work in a tech-savvy office place, complain to your coworkers about how little traffic you get. They really, really like that. Plus, it makes them much more willing to help you with your work.

8. Trash Religion
Religion is so last millenium. If people would only wake up and realise that there is no such thing, we’d be on to a winner. You have no time for people whose eyes are fixed on paradise in the future at the expense of the reality of now.

9. Don’t write about News
The internets are full of webpages all discussing the same piece of news. Try writing about something that no-one knows about, like what you had for breakfast, or how close the girl next door came to being caught with her boyfriend last night. People don’t want News, they really don’t.

10. Don’t offer any solutions
When you’ve finished ranting and have sorted your thoughts, don’t write them down, or write them down and tell the reader that’s the rest is up to them. You’ve told them the facts; let them decide what they ought to do. You’re not giving out free lunches here.

Remember, you need to do the opposite of the above tips, OK? Just want to make that clear. If you screw it up and end up creating a blog that’s as unpopular as this one, you can link to this one, even call your blog the World’s Second Least Popular blog. Just don’t blame me.

Blogging Destroys Civilisation, apparently.

The attached article jerked me out of my self-important, self-aggrandizing daze and jerked its columns at the patches of dead grass and rabid rabbits that lurk in the leafy nirvana that is Web 2.0. The Palace is a nice place to be. Here I am safe. From here I can rain down Righteous Justice on the dictators, the lawbreakers, the wrongdoers and the ne’erdowells. Your God is in his/her/their celestial house and all is right in the Web.

Or not. Enough metaphor.

The author cites quotes from people of whom I have never heard (but who are promoted as experts and sages) who encourage me to believe their assertion that blogging is “all about digital narcissism, shameless self-promotion”, or that blogs “do not add to the available stock of commentary; they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide.

Of these two quotes, I can agree with the first in the case of the virtual bike sheds that are the social networking sites, but the second strikes me as the pot calling the kettle a negro. We are all parasitic on society. Papers, TV and the internet are merely transmission mechanisms for stories and opinions created by people. Traditional news outlets only create stories when the world fails to generate its share. This differs from net-based content only in the medium and manner in which it is delivered and that it has been around a bit longer.

Which brings me to the next bone of contention; presentation. I agree that the social networking sites are primarily the domain of the teenager; indeed, the parallels bring back such memories as to make me avoid them completely. The quote;”We are creating a world in which everybody can talk – or , more commonly, shout – about themselves to everybody else.”

Put like that, it sounds like a bad thing. But while the newspapers and evening news are geared towards adults, social networking sites are not. Therefore, one cannot compare one by the standards of the other. In this connected world where every individual has the crushing fact of its insignificance thrust down its throat every day, these sites provide a beacon of hope, the chance to have your say without fear of let or hinderance.

The very word “individual” is losing its meaning. Those choices that make us individuals are no longer ours to make. This “round hole” society we have created generates row upon row of uniformly square pegs. Given that fact, are we so surprised that people feel the need to shout “I AM NOT A NUMBER!” to anyone who will listen?

The article also suggests that blogs are generally1 “claustrophobic environment(s), appealing chiefly2 to a certain kind of agressive, point-scoring male and utterly off-putting to everyone else”. The author of this comment believes signing your real name to your online contributions is the only way to ensure that people are more civil to each other. I can kinda see the point, but it’s no magic bullet and even if it were, you can’t make someone use their real name. And those who do will wind up getting death threats from those who do not.

Abusive content cannot be blamed on blogs, nor is abusive online content a new thing. People have been flaming each other in forums and on bulletin boards even before Sir Tim added the FORM tag to HTML 2.0 back in 1995. And it’s no good the newspapers getting all superior; the papers are never short of vitriol. The only difference is that the words generally have more syllables, the better to confuse the target and reduce the possibility of litigation.

It’s a case of “It’s my ball and I’m taking it home”. The internet has given those of us who scrawl our words upon it the power to commit our thoughts to immortality, a power which, until recently, was the plaything of the MSM. Now we all have to share the ball, the MSM are throwing their toys out of the pram. We all have to learn to play nice and share.

The Web is in its infancy, its ability to inform opinion and shape policy still very much underdeveloped. Like all kids, it needs to have its boundaries set, its transgressions punished and its good deeds rewarded. I don’t feel that the MSM is the body to do that, in the same way that I wouldn’t want a sullen older brother, jealous of the shift of attention to its pudgy, drooling little brother, to decide what’s best for it.

Do we need regulating? Sooner or later the web will grow, lose the puppy fat, grow some teeth and learn how to articulate itself properly. Until that time, if the Web 2.0 decides to poo itself and throw up on the rug once in a while, we should let it.

Blogging does not destroy civilization. If something as basic as freedom of speech can destroy civilization, then it deserves to die. Asking us to gag ourselves to save civilization is destined for failure. If you want us to save the world, you have to be sure we like it the way it is.

1 Always a dangerous word; you will always piss off the few to placate the many.
2 “generally” with fewer medals.

Nothing Ever Happens: Why Blogs Die

There is a song by Del Amitri that goes “Nothing ever happens. Nothing happens at all. The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before.” And it’s true. What you’re doing right now is probably pretty much what you did yesterday and most likely what you’ll be doing tomorrow.

The blogosphere is thinning. The bubble is bursting. Blogs are falling dormant in their thousands, HTML gravestones marking the points where people ran out of things to say.

But that isn’t actually the problem. The problem is that people get bored of writing the same shit, day in, day out. It reminds them how repetitive their lives are, so they either stop blogging and a) do something about it, or b) ignore the problem.

Now, this blog has evolved over the eighteen or so months I’ve been doing it and the rate of new entries has plummeted. This is not because my life is repetitive (which of course it is) but because my suject matter is repetitive. My posts are generally rants about the same old things; intolerance, politics, society, evolution, communication, information. Name a -tion, there’s a rant around here somewhere.

After a while, you find yourself, mid autorant, thinking that you’ve seen what you’re typing somewhere else, and then you realise it was in the post you typed last week. At this point, your spam filter kicks in and for every five posts you start, one might get published. My list of posts is littered with entries where I’ve started ranting and then run out of steam.

No doubt some blogs die because the authors’ spleens are fully vented. I have reached this point a number of times. I’m lucky, if you can call it that, to be a bit of a grumpy old man, so my spleen fills up faster than most. But still, there’s not enough new unrighteousnesses in the world that I need to squash. The Palace is gathering dust, the Twin Swords of Truth and Beauty rusting in a corner.

And we get to what this blog is about; finding, through the medium of Rant, the answers to life’s questions. In this case, why the papers and media are so full of conjecture, fabrication and meaningless drivel. The answer is that they are struggling to fill five pages with news, let alone fifty. So, just like sausages, out comes the cereal and the gristle to add a bit of bulk to the mix.

The ratio of signal to noise in the world is dropping. I will tweak my filters and try to tease some meaning from the good information that makes it through. There may be answers and there will be new questions. That’s fine. What is Life without really good questions?