Blogging for the Intellectual Collective: Why Good Blogs Blossom While Others Die

Collective Intelligence and the Blogging World

The digital age has revolutionized the transfer of information, and as such the manner in which information is conveyed has also changed.  Sean Michael Morris explains in “Digital Writing Uprising:  Third-order Thinking in the Digital Humanities” that digital composition is non-linear, thus throwing away traditional writing styles and literary road-maps.  Morris explains that, instead of present fully formed ideas in a printed format, blogs allow writers to present, use, and reuse partial ideas.

I believe that, as a result of this sharing of ideas, a good blog should be able to contribute to and participate in the global collective intelligence community.  By adding to the online discussion of any given topic, blogs allow writers to explore concepts with the input of a wider, more involved audience than ever before.  An example of this is Humans of New York, a blog dedicated to sharing interviews and photographs of people in the Big Apple.  In doing to, HONY serves as a kind of oral history microcosm, documenting the lives of local people and spreading the perspectives of others.

A good blog should also give readers the tools and resources necessary to discover and learn more about the concepts, ideas, topics, and perspectives covered by the site.  This can be done in a variety of manners, including links to explanatory articles, citations leading back to original sources, and in-article definitions.  Hybrid Pedagogy shows how these links and definitions can be kneaded into the fabric of an article, providing greater clarity and allowing readers to delve deeper into issues of interest.

Effective Blog Design in the Mobile Age

Brian Carroll’s book, “Writing for Digital Media,” focuses on key aspects of any successful blog.  Although Carroll focuses on journalism sites, many of his points are applicable for any blog or website.  This includes using lists, linking when appropriate, and checking for broken links periodically.  Carroll also touches on the importance of multi-modal media (a combination of text, images, and videos) within an effective blog site. 99% Invisible shows the true power and possibilities behind multi-modal media, using podcasts, images, videos, and drawings to convey deeper meaning and draw readers from one article to the next.

Adding on to that, I believe that bloggers should be aware of their audience so that their content and media remain relevant and consistent.  A weekly blog about blockbuster movies, for example, may include a link to another site’s review of that film with every post.  Bloggers focused on sustainability might be sure to cover the latest LEED-certified building data, writing articles about remarkable projects from time to time.  This consistency allows bloggers to retain their audience and create a more credible web presence.

Carroll also focuses on the importance of readability and scan-ability for blog articles.  By working with current trends in mobile browsing by shortening their posts and ensuring easy reader comprehension, bloggers can increase the popularity and effectiveness of their content.  It should be noted, however, that this does not equate with “dumbing down” content; a good digital writer can strike the delicate balance between “writing down” to their readers and presenting their ideas in an easily understood way.  This is best accomplished by reducing the use of unnecessary jargon and breaking up ideas into smaller portions.

The Power of Good Blogging

Ultimately, the power and credibility behind any blog depends on a number of factors.  In a digital world where partial ideas are shared and reused constantly, a good blog will contribute to the collective intelligence of the online world.  Useful blogs will also provide background information for readers and ensure that ideas are comprehensible, and properly split by lists or smaller paragraphs.  Consistency should also be present in any web presence to enhance credibility.  Ultimately, any blog is only good because of the opinions of its readers.  In the digital world, quality is judged by the entire online community.

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