Blogs do not exist for solely for the author. In fact, it is impossible for a blog to exist in isolation from its audience. About digital writing, Sean Michael Morris states in his article “Digital Writing Uprising: Third Order Thinking in the Digital Humanities” that “What gets said is inevitably communal. We create the choir as we preach, and the choir creates us.” In the blogosphere, this is most applicable to the kind of content that is generated on a blog. People react to what is said and add their own thoughts via comment sections. They ask questions and provide feedback, both good and bad. Page views and shares act like votes- the more people read and interact with a piece, the more attention the author/curator will devote to the topics discussed in the article. If an article isn’t getting much traffic, then the author knows to write about something else. The community determines what is produced by determining what they want to consume.
This is also why having a good design is important in blogging. As Lance Hosey says in his article “Why We Love Beautiful Things”, “It should come as no surprise that good design, often in very subtle ways, can have such dramatic effects. After all, bad design works the other way: poorly designed computers can injure your wrists, awkward chairs can strain your back and over-bright lighting and computer screens can fatigue your eyes.” If a website is difficult to navigate or a blog is visually unappealing, people won’t likely be interested. At this point, the internet is full of all kinds of compelling content that checks every box, from style to function, so if a blog lacks in either category, it may find it hard to maintain an audience.
I discovered this blog just yesterday, and it is a perfect example both of good design and community dictated content. The blog itself is about a man who lives in a truck in order to cut down on living expenses. The author’s most recent posting (as of September 14th, 2016) is a Q&A that reads much like a conversation between readers who’ve submitted questions and the author. Some are suggestions that he talks about considerations and his thought process on the decisions he has reached. As for the design of this blog, it keeps with the minimalist theme. The home page features the most recent posting smack in the middle of the page. Above it is title of the blog, ‘Thoughts from Inside the Box’ with a navigation bar above it that takes you to the home page (most recent post), the very first post, and an index for everything in between. Widgets appear on the side of the posting; the left sports the About and Net Savings boxes, and the right are widgets for questions/comments, a search bar, and a subscription box. This clean, streamline design fits the theme of minimalism and practicality, and keeps the focus on the writing itself. I intend to incorporate these lessons in staying on-brand to my own blog for the duration of this class.