It feels like I’ve neglected this blog just recently. Until yesterday when I posted this blog about Howard Goodall, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d dropped by the WordPress interface.
In actual fact, it was when I wrote about Strictly’s Louis Smith. Clearly my attention on this blog has waned. Its not uppermost in my mind. Blog statistics seemed like a distant memory. How had this happened? I’d normally been terribly regular with my posts, ever keen to feed my blog-writing addiction.
The main reason is down to the blatant affair I’ve been having with another blog. It’s taken a long time for me to feel comfortable with the one I’m paid to write, but now I’ve got used to it, the About the BBC blog is an opportunity some of my BBC-ness. I have found the perfect job, you might say.
But, the perfect job at a price. Keeping two blogs on the go is an effort. Not just in terms of time, but also headspace: the real world equivalent of living in two separate houses and not feeling at ease enough in either to call them home.
So I’ve returned here like a teenager whose returning home to see his parents after a long time away. Everything looks a little different. There’s a vague whiff of guilt hanging about. And, there’s all sorts of promises that things will be different this time.
So, what’s there to say? An observation and possibly even a moan. That’s what.
A few days ago I chaired a meeting of blog editors across the BBC. One of the subjects we inevitably got into emerged from a discussion around statistics. What exactly is a blog? What are they good for? Are they a journalistic platform or a PR mouthpiece? If people are using Tumblr or Twitter now, is there really any point in a longer-form blog? And why Jon, didn’t you bring any biscuits like you said you would?
As it happened, the person raising the question about the biscuits had brought his own cake with him anyway. He didn’t share it around either. Very remiss. But, the discussion that followed left me pondering long after everyone shut their notebooks and left the room. I’ve noted some of those thoughts below.
1. Why are we still (I’m talking generally, not BBC-specific by the way) worrying ourselves with a cast-iron definition of what a blog is? Shouldn’t those who read them or write them be able to answer that question?
2. If we must define what makes a blog, shouldn’t we start with an acknowledgemt that seeing as the word has been part of our lexicon for at least ten years now, the term ‘blog’ has become elastic, accommodating a wide range of editorial strategies. To hold up personal blogging, for example, as the only ‘true’ manifestation denies the reality that things change over time.
3. Are statistics a true measure of success? Or is it influence? Or is it authority?
4. Blogs are webpages that consist of a title, some copy and an invitation to comment. They are in some respects no different from an online news story. The basic requirement is that people want to read past the title. And by people, I mean someone other than the author.
5. Many still look down their noses at those who understand and frequent the blogging world. The blog remains a weapon in the armoury of those in need of self-aggrandising – whether you author one or not. The dynamic extends the experience of the school playground into adulthood. Meh.
6. There are some great blog writers on the Internet. They are great because they can write copy in a variety of different styles of which blogging is one. To project an air of superiority over those who blog, denies the democratic origins which led so many feeling enabled by it in the first place.
7. Thinking about what makes a blog is almost as boring as discussing what defines journalism.
8. Blogs require effort. A lot of it. They don’t just happen. Like gardens, they require constant attention and tender loving care. Blogs need a voice, a sense of confidence and very low set of expectations. Everything that emerges from that position is a real win.
9. Personal blogs host opinions, in degrees of strength. Organisational blogs (those representing a brand, company or more an one person) give character to that organisation.
10. Talking about definitions is tiresome. Actually doing things is far more fun.
I don’t tire of writing. I always want to improve. I enjoy the creative freedom a personal blog affords, and I find myself benefitting from the perceived restrictions writing one for an organisation imposes on me. I don’t write to be perceived as influential. I don’t write for reach either. I write for me. If you happen to read it, then great. If you don’t, then I hope what you’re reading instead is just as satisfying.