5 reasons why you should start a blog

Who blogs these days?

Today, I’ve asked my PUBLISH class to start their own class blog as part of a requirement in class. It is surprising to find that many are no longer blogging. (Blame Facebook and Twitter!)

Why do we still need to blog? I will offer several reasons.

1. Blogging helps you become a better writer. It is one way of publishing your thoughts without noise. You own this space on the Internet. Nobody can tell you what to write (unless you decide to sell it to the highest bidder–the devil!). It’s your personal space in cyberspace. Facebook and Twitter are designed for  consumption and connection. Blogging is about creation.

2. Blogging gives you voice. Want to say something, blog about it. If you want to rant, take it to your blog, and explain it well. Blogs can be your venue for stimulating debate and discussion on topics of choice. It’s up to you to engage people.

3. Blogging helps you establish your online persona. I am often impressed with people who own and maintain their blogs for reasons that are non-commercial. Blogs establish your cred online. Buy your own domain name — do it. Having trouble deciding what to blog, use it to document your passion, your journey through life or through the digital space. You will make mistakes–some spelling errors, and sometimes (God forbid!) some grammatical lapses. Don’t fret. You can always revise and update it. And that’s the beauty of self-publishing.

4. Blogging makes you think.  Try writing one entry a day. Isn’t that a lot of work? Yes, of course. Writing is all about thinking and articulating your thoughts in words, images, and videos. As the medium dictates, this is NOT just for the nerdy types–or for the word lovers. You can use photos, videos to communicate what you think. Be creative. You’ll be surprised years later to see what have you done.

5. Blogging keeps you disciplined. Starting is easy. Keeping at it for years without pause is not. This blog has seen less and less updates. And it has always been a struggle to keep the juices running. So yes, blogging keeps you focused and disciplined. It is sometimes cathartic.

So if somebody asks you again why do you blog, remember these five things, and add one more that is unique to you. It’s also fun seeing people realize that, “Yeah, you’re right!”

Blog away!

May 20, 1990: Advice on Life from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson | Brain Pickings

If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.

via May 20, 1990: Advice on Life from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson | Brain Pickings.

Photo sourced from Brain Pickings

Don’t read this

Gotcha!

If you’re reading these words, my experiment succeeded.

How do I make you read further. Easy, I will use a bigger FONT.

But who am I kidding, right? If this blog doesn’t say anything, you may be clicking this LINK to get out of here.

By now, I have gotten you’re attention. So I will try to add a nice photo just about…now.

laughing-horse

If you’re still reading until this point, I’m handing it to you. You’re unusual.

People usually stay on a web page for at least 6 seconds.

They scan first. Then, they glance over the first few paragraphs. When it doesn’t hook them. They leave.

So if you’re reading this paragraph, you’re exceptional because I’m about to throw in a video. And this video is going to increase your time spent on this page. You may share it after, or not! Just watch the video.

By now, I have thrown all the tricks that I can think of, but wait, there’s more…

game-of-thrones-dani-burn-deal-with-it

 

 

 

 

Okay that’s it!

*gif is brought to you by Awesomegifs

 

Telling a story, Gonzo-style

I recently told my class to write a story about a new experience. This assignment was partly inspired by recent readings on Gonzo journalism, a style that was first associated with Hunter S. Thompson who popularized this style of journalism.

Thompson has inspired other writers. This style, which was often described as a “stream of consciousness” (more like writing from the hip), has sparked a new genre of journalism, but it has also earned some ire from traditional ones. This style is tough, especially after years of being told to follow a certain formula.  This formula is simply called “5Ws1H” — no, that’s not a secret code that  journalists only know.

We read the news today to answer these basic questions: what, who, when, where, why, and how. We want our news quick.  Now that we have Twitter, we only read (admit it!) the headlines, and move on.

So back to the classroom. I currently teach J109, which is an elective that is described as writing for a popular audience. The shorter description will confuse you more, so I will spare you the details. But think about that short description: writing for a popular audience. Further reading of the course outline, I found out that I was tasked to help students write about technical topics/issues using techniques in journalism.

As journalists, we’re trained to be generalists. We are trained to absorb a lot of information. Then, we have to make sense of it. If we”re given a rock, we need to tell me what kind of rock it is, and where it came from, or where it has been. Perhaps, it’s a chip of  a block in a landmark in our town hall. It might be a heavy piece of meteor rock that fell from the sky one chilly night. It’s heavy and it’s black. It might be a smooth slate we picked from a brook.

Yes, we need to master the basics. But that doesn’t stop you from exploring other styles of writing. Gonzo or whatever it may be. As long as you tell it like it is.

‘Bloggers as saleman’

Interesting observation at Baratillo.net about the increasing number of bloggers being invited to cover events. It goes:

I do not know if you notice it but in the past few months there has been an increase in the number of events bloggers have been invited to. There have been more than a baker’s dozen of food tours. And there have been more tech events than Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs. And a lot of bloggers have been invited to these events.

They happen one way or the other, most of the time. And it is a good thing bloggers are invited. But are there times when a blogger abandon his role as a blogger and starts to be the defacto spokesperson or salesman of a product the event launches? Is this a good or bad thing? Are the principles of the blogger compromised? Does it seem that the blogger has sold his soul for a shiny new product because it was given away for free or he/she is part of the viral campaign?

In essence by doing such things does the blogger depart from his original role and thus become just a mouthpiece of the product? He ceases to become a blogger and starts being the Goebbels – the online propaganda Czar of the product.

As you would read along, you’ll be encountering words like “objectivity,” which is an idea familiar among journalists. What is objectivity? The answer to that question will likely lead you to endless debates. I would rather use responsibility. But that’s another issue. Anyway, let’s go back to the article.

Has the blogger by doing this sold his or her soul to the Devil? A devil that comes in the form of a free meal, a shiny new camera or even a new phone?

These are questions that have been from time to time in my thoughts as I see things shaping in the community. It is a concern. It is a similar concern to that mania of hits, page impressions and ranking mania one sees among blogs … but let us leave that alone for awhile.

A few things to consider or thoughts that come to my mind:The blogger has the option to write a post or not and f the blogger then decides to write a post, a series of posts or even publicly state that he or she believes in the product is this wrong?

Only if he does not believe in the product or he is doing this without giving the product a critical eye.

If a blogger does not believes in a product and then endorses it or even promotes it then I think he or she or I (if that were case) would be selling out – dropped the role of the blogger and become the salesperson of the product.

Here comes the dilemma. One way out of this is not to write about the product or whatever is being promoted. Why don’t they write about something that is not related to the event. Or probably they can focus on certain issues? I remember writing a product review in the past. When it came out, I was branded a “pro-this,” and “anti-that.” The review narrated my personal experience with that certain product, which meant it highlighted the pros and cons, and general observations compared with other existing rival products. Mind you, it’s really hard to do reviews because it takes time and keen observation to point out what’s hot and what’s not.

People have their biases. Perhaps the best way of approaching the dilemma cited in the article is to become more responsible about what you write. Just my two cents’ worth.