Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Essay 4: Blogging

Over the past few years, the Internet has introduced a new way for people to display their actions and opinions to a worldwide audience. This new technology, called blogging, has transformed how people interact in the online community. Any user, whether they have experience or are a novice, can easily set up and maintain their blog to discuss any issues, feelings, or personal accomplishments to allow either restricted or public users to view. For my assignment, I have chosen to view the blog Awful Announcing for one week in order to overview and comment on the nature and makeup of this blog. Awful Announcing has two main contributors that post multiple stories daily pertaining primarily to sports. Each entry consists usually of a picture or media clip followed by a short excerpt of the author’s personal opinion. The main theme of the site is to provide humor over knowledge in a casual and informal style. Aaron Barlow (2008) discusses what makes a blog successful, taking six key points from David Benjamin Auerbach’s blog “Waggish”. These six key points include The Short Horizon, Quantity, The Gestalt, Specialization, Instant Feedback, and Need for Triage (p. 75-76).

Awful Announcing has one of the highest authority levels on the blog search engine Technorati. This advises users the particular blog has been interlinked to a high number of other blogs. The first point in successful blogs is the short horizon. This term deals with a blog posting short entries. On Awful Announcing, each entry consists of about one hundred words or less, and can be read rather quickly. Depth and details of each story are not the main focus of the entries. Instead, the authors try to incorporate witty and partially inform readers to the topic they are discussing. This is necessary for successful blogs because people don’t have the time or patients to read a three page story on a sports game or interview.

Quantity is the next point that is emphasized for successful blogging. This point relates closely to the short horizon in the sense that blogs are meant to be kept short, but also posted often. Readers want to be able to read or chose to read from as many postings related to their interests as possible. Posting too many stories in which readers have to select from is more appealing than not having any entries for readers to view. Over the course of a week, there were approximately twelve new entries daily posted on Awful Announcing. This high number of posts has allowed viewers to be able to read all of the day’s news stories in about fifteen minutes .

The gestalt is the third point of focus which pertains to the structure of the blogs. Successful blogs are seen to be less detailed and profound than a typical published article on a major news network. There isn’t a sense of wholeness or completeness regarding the story. Awful Announcing follows this same pattern in writing their entries. Only segments of articles will be looked at and discussed in their columns. Now this may be a problem in a highly respected media outlet that leaves out part of the story to frame or shape the audiences view on the topic, but with blogs they are less professional and briefer.

Specialization of one topic at hand is the next criteria to accomplish a desired community. Awful Announcing has a main focus to deal with top sports stories and mistakes that occur in the sports media. A couple of articles a day did relate to other top stories around the world, particularly to the presidential candidates and the election. As a reader, these stories did not throw off or turn me away from this blog because sports should be viewed as a past time, not as a lifestyle. Being able to extend into national news events once in a while does not take the main purpose of combining humor and sports away.

Instant Feedback is the ability for users to read and respond to the topics that are posted on the blog. Unlike many media outlets, blogs allow for people to express and debate their particular points of view regarding an issue. After every article, there is a comment section that allows members to convey their argument or to contribute humorous remarks about the discussion. This is important to both the users of the community and the authors as well. Public opinions allow for the authors to react and maybe help shape the content that is published on their site.

The sixth and final criterion is the need for triage. This theme has to do particularly to blogs as a whole and not to one particular site. Auerbach argues in Barlow’s book that “a role for aggregators/gatekeepers to point people to selected pieces of content was inevitable” (p. 76). This idea is stating that when people are looking for particular information about a topic that it is important the people have some sense of direction in determining the quality of the content. With millions and millions of blogs, users may view them as consisting only of unique content and not understanding the sources that it may have came from. Sites such as Technorati for example allow users to search for a particular blog that they want to read, and it has a rating system to assist people in finding what they are looking for.

Awful Announcing has all of the criteria that have been stated for creating and maintaining a successful blog. In my exploration into the blogosphere, it is become apparent that the content and structure are a strong determinant in the success of the blogs.

1. Barlow, Aaron. Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere. CT.: Praeger Publishers, 2008.

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