Saturday, 10 March 2007

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Anatomy of a Splash: Don't Fear the Blog I've had a couple of interesting email exchanges of late with academics who want to blog, but fear the commitment required to find and retain an audience. In case any of you lurkers have similar questions, I thought I'd share my Words of Wisdom: You blog when you want to. Sometimes you'll fear disappointing your audience, but you shouldn't. We live in the age of Real Simple Syndication, which means even if you go dormant, people will know when you start blogging again. This is the Timothy Burke model: he disappears for a few weeks, comes back with a couple of great posts, then disappears again. You do not have to post five times a day. You can follow the Acephalous model and post once a day. Posting once a day has pleasant side effects: foremost among them, a backlog of potential posts (which I keep in a drafts folder and mine fairly frequently). Think of it like this: you gain an audience by making a splash. Throwing a thousand individual pebbles makes for a thousand tiny splashes. No one will notice. Hire a wrecking crew and chunk a few boulders in there and everyone will notice. So, write a few great posts, have them linked to by the right people, and you'll find yourself with an audience. Sinthome's a good example of this (although lately he's chucking individual boulders in four times daily). If you write something you know another blogger will find interesting, by all means, send an email. If you merely think they will, however, hold off. Of the links I'm emailed, only about half of them are of any real interest to me. Another quarter are pseudo-spam sent by people who email all the Marauding Marsupials with links to their poorly-scribed political screeds or the latest update on their vanity project of dubious value. But I take the time to read the rest and comment when I have something to say. (That said, I love those sorts of emails, so feel free to send me more.) I don't link to nearly enough of them—or in a timely manner—but that's the fault of the aforementioned backlog. (Still, I really ought to link to those items which really get me thinking, like CR's recent meditation on Barthes.) If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email.

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