I have posted before on the highs and lows of blogging. A few readers have kindly offered me reassurance that they enjoy my musings. I am really not fishing for compliments today. A fascinating seminar we held here yesterday (find out more and join the debate here) got me thinking again about on-line content. I have asked in the past about how we can build ‘content ladders’ encouraging people – especially young people- to move on to more participative and challenging content.
An issue raised yesterday, and which I intend to address more fully in the future, concerns 'bridging'; how can we build content which brings people together across class, ethnic or other social divides? David Halpern, who never seems to speak without sharing some fascinating new research, told us yesterday of American data suggesting music based content is the best for bridging social divides.
But today I am focussing on a more parochial concern.
I must admit this comes, in part, from personal frustration. My daily blog readership averages about four or five hundred, rising occasionally to over a thousand if I have a provocative title or manage to get some good links from other sites. Generally, we bloggers are happy to accept the judgement of our readers; it’s they who decide whether to pass on or link to a post. But just as I am sometimes surprised at the amount of comment a post I dashed off generates, there are other occasions I am disappointed when a post I think deserves wider discussion fails to take off.
There are too many bloggers and not enough readers so genuinely good posts can fall between the cracks. I often come across brilliant posts that were written weeks or months ago but have taken that time to wend their way to my inbox. And many amateur bloggers (those for whom it is not a core part of their paid work) have guiltily to admit that they don’t find the time they should to surf (excuse the retro terminology) the offerings of their peers.
There is also the problem of building and maintaining a readership. Several of my colleagues here at the RSA write fascinating blogs but they are busy with their projects. They don’t all have the time to cultivate a readership or to achieve the breakthrough when a particular post gets taken up in the blogosphere. As I know, it can be disheartening when the stats show only tens of readers and few if any comments.
Here are the links to those RSA blogs – they are well worth checking out:
Social Brain; Tomorrow's Investor; Education; Design & Society; Design & Behaviour; Arts & Ecology; Prison Learning Network
To address some of these challenges and to help raise the general standing of blogging after the McBride affair I am developing an idea with my old friend Matt Cain.
The idea of the project – working title ‘Bloggers circle’ – is that part time bloggers (who focus on politics, policy and society) join a club with the following simple rules. Every month you are asked to submit to the other members of the club up to two or three posts you would particularly like more widely discussed. As a club member you will receive links every morning to these referred blogs along with a one line content summary. You will then be required at least twice a month to select one of these blogs and write about it yourself. Every few weeks the post that has got the most take up will be awarded blog of the month.
Along with some basic expectations of decency, club members will be encouraged to link to posts not necessarily because they agree with them but because they are provocative, clever and well-written. This goes towards strengthening the idea of the blogosphere as a place where people engage with other points of view and where writers develop their skills of argumentation and communication.
What do people think of the idea? And are there any volunteers for the launch of the club?