What to write

Given a weblog which has been updated sporadically but regularly for a dozen years, the question is, what to write next.

Recent observations indicate that there are two kinds of writing that tend to get lots of traffic over time. One is the post that is extremely timely, where the world is looking for news of an event as it is happening. A timely and informative post on that event will get a burst of search traffic on one day, and then will get no traffic after that. A second is the perennially interesting article which routinely gets seasonal traffic when the world looks for that bit of information that they look for every year.

A third type of post, of course, is this one, which gets no appreciable readership in the short run or in the long run; that's mostly typical.

Writing the perennially interesting piece is hard, because you need to care about something deeply enough to capture a piece of what you and the world know about it that's of enduring interest and that's enough better than the rest of the net that people will find it. Once you do track this down, your search logs will lead you to variations and refinements that make the post better. My power outage maps post has this quality.

The post with a burst of intense newsworthiness is generally not newsworthy beyond two or three days. If you are fortunate, you have collected something that is otherwise interesting. I have a habit of collecting incident and situation maps for emerging events; this recent London riot map post is of that type.

I'd like to think that I don't need to have an audience (beyond myself) for this writing, but that said, it's always good to see that at least someone reads something that you write. (Otherwise, you'd be better off putting in on paper and then recycling it immediately.) When I've tried to use a blog as mostly a collection point, it has helped to divide out a separate blog for that purpose. My telegraphy blog admits the notion that on any given day zero or one person might read it, but it has been assembled as a collection, not a narrative. For some other ongoing efforts, a wiki might be more appropriate, e.g. for Ann Arbor history, cameras, or encyclopedic knowledge about tomatoes.  

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One thought on “What to write

  1. Mike Coyne

    I suspect a survey of blogs across the net might find that the “what to write” post ranks in the top 5 of posts written, if not posts (re-)read. 🙂

    Reply

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