“A blog is not writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation”
With those words in the movie Contagion, Dr. Sussmann (Elliott Gould) dismissed Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), a blogger who was attempting to shed light on a shadowy government policy. With 12 millions unique visitors, Krumwiede’s blog carried some weight, but was viewed by Sussman as a nuisance.
Blogs as graffiti? The remark seems dated. With over 150 million blogs – personal and corporate – the practice is widespread, with even the most respected of institutions and old media journalists using blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr.
Blogs provide an up-to-the-minute source of information, news, instruction, entertainment, political commentary, and more, and provides an opportunity for readers to engage and add their own commentary.
And what about the post itself? The graffiti between the punctuation?
Before seeing the movie, I came across a Bit.ly post that broke down the shelf life of links to a blog post. Although it suggested that it’s the quality of the post that counts, the shelf life of even those posts is measured in mere hours.
Commenting on this, Mitch Joel over at Six Pixels of Separation noted how depressing it is to realize that you’re doing great if your content can last a whopping 12 hours:
[Bloggers] post something that they think is ground-breaking, earth-shaking and game-changing and everyone is talking about it everywhere… for a couple of seconds… for a couple of hours… and then everyone is on to the next thing.
Yes, for those of us who spend hours researching, writing and editing each blog post, and cranking them out at a consistent clip, this news can be depressing. It’s no wonder that bloggers are increasingly engaging in search engine optimization (SEO) to get their writings discovered before it ends up in the scrap heap just hours later.
Later, during a Facebook conversation, in response to my moan about the future of blogging, Kevin O’Keefe, a long-time advocate for blogging, specifically, blogging for lawyers, stated:
Blogging will always have value if the blog is offering true insight and commentary from a professional that is passionate about and skilled in the niche being blogged on.
Ah, faith restored as Kevin’s thoughts echo how I feel. But I couldn’t help but think that going forward, perhaps I should consider the time I invest in each blog post, and the frequency at which I publish. Even the very reason for writing certain posts.
Is it worth spending hours on each post?
Consider this: I thought about going into detail about the history and meaning of graffiti and examining the art form, and how in reality, it’s not necessarily a pejorative to compare anything to it, including blogs. But to truly capture the nuance, that would require a few hours of additional research which could potentially take me on a tangential journey, albeit a fascinating one – gathering anecdotes and images, But what would that serve? Could that depth of intellectual exploration be even worth it, in terms of the disposability of blog content?
I’ll take the graffiti comparison. It’s an art form. It also endures. I don’t accept the mayfly-like life expectancy of the blog post. Sure, they may be just a flash in an RSS feed, but they live on through Google searches, e-books, and if your post is interesting enough, you just may find your ideas turn into a meme. Or scraped entirely without credit.
What do you think?