There is a Darwin effect to blogging, except it’s not as simple as, “Only the strong survive.” As writers, we believe if the message is clear and distributed properly, the strength of the writing should help it permeate into the blogosphere.
However, the survivors must contribute.
Over at the Journal of Consumer Research, editor Dr. Laura Peracchio explains to future authors they need to be able to explain how their papers contribute to the field of consumer research. The idea of making a contribution through writing isn’t new, and especially in research, it’s very important to be able to provide new insight. While there may not be very many original thoughts, it is expected that you take thoughts, theories, and ideas to the next level.
As bloggers, we deal with this concept all the time, except it is a constant evolution. Each time we write, we might be thinking, “Is this contributing something new to the conversation?” Sometimes it isn’t.
Some of the most useful topics have thousands of posts. “How to Make LinkedIn Work for You” or “The Dangers of Facebook” may be overly written topics, but they’re that way because the information is useful. It may be old news to me, but it’s all new to someone else. Those of us who have seen these posts over and over again, however, may have forgotten that we once wrote our own version of these posts once upon a time because we knew the information was important.
I might argue that in seeing these kinds of topics over and over again, instead of thinking “Wow, what an unoriginal post,” we should think of what would that post look like at the next level.
Should LinkedIn change so that it is a living resume system for job seekers? A site where, depending on the position of the viewer, the viewer sees a different version of your profile? Will Facebook really be dangerous a few years from now, or will we finally admit that we ALL do things in our personal lives that might not always be the most graceful? That these embarrassing moments are our common denominators as humans?
These might not be huge leaps from their original ideas, but you can see the progression.* Think about your writing topic, and then ask yourself, “What am I contributing to the pool of ideas with this post?”
I will say, however, that not every piece of writing needs to transcend boundaries of thought. Most of us enjoy writing for the sake of writing. Many authors have stacks of drafts on computers, in notebooks, on napkins, etc. With the presence of blogging, however, we’ve taken the act of drafting and moved it online. You see our thoughts as they run through our heads and down to our fingertips. You can see raw emotion that hasn’t had a chance to be edited or the chaos of steam-of-thought typing when it’s 2am.
When we give you those “draft” posts, you put up with us (and we thank you) because there are those other posts that contribute. We just need to make sure we’re getting you those next-level posts. I know I will challenge myself a bit more to share these compelling thoughts with you, and I hope you do the same.
*If you have something written about one of those ideas, please post the links here in the comments. I’d love to read your take on those ideas.