Shoot, it’s a driveby culture

This post is going to be serious, thought-provoking and lacking in cheap punch lines, self help, pictures of fail or overblown ranting.

OK, so now we’ve gotten rid of those people, let’s talk about you. As an internet user, there’s a funtionally infinite amount of content available to you right now. Yet, you’re reading this! Why’s that? Many readers will know me personally, so there’s a pretty obvious connection. Others might find my slowly maturing thoughts about science interesting (hi Moth!), or like my photos, or maybe they stumbled in by accident, their mouse broke and now they can’t get away. Whatever your motivation is for being here, you’re the kind of reader who is capable of sticking things out and paying attention for more than 15 seconds without titillation.

A HAPPY BANANA! OH BOY!

Part of what drives me to blog is the hints of understanding it gives me about what people find interesting in, or care about. Seth Godin’s blog has a thoughtful post which poses the question: what works?

“Should I write blog posts that increase my traffic or that help change the way (a few) people think?”

It’s not necessarily a dichotomy, but there’s only a limited market (people’s time and attention), so being able to reach out to a lot of people and still carry meaningful content is difficult. A recent post of mine, EPIC, generated a little spike in traffic because it had a catchy first paragraph, but did people click on it just because the preview appealed to their vanity?

Personally, I found the implications of the animation linked in that post to be really profound. The sad thing is, the people who I’d love to read all the way through such a post, and think about it, are the ones who’d look at the shark and then bounce off to YouTube to watch puppies falling over. I’m starting to realise that it’s the dilemma of a communicator; there’s a fraction of audience (you!) who will get this far into a post no matter what I’m writing, because for some reason, you’re interested. Then there’s those who couldn’t care less. In between is a huge expanse of ‘maybes’, and that’s where the challenge lies.

Can I figure out how to get a first-time reader to get all the way to the end of one of my posts? If they get there, can I make my content interesting enough that they might bookmark me (or add me to their RSS, or use the subscription box to the right, or hit like on their WordPress, or tattoo my URL to the back of their hand) and come back again?

Not the kind of blog views I'm after, but definitely the kind of views I enjoyed while on the South Coast recently.

I don’t have the answers. I just have my thoughts, my photos and a fascination with the world around me. Oh, and one other thing: a quiet, suppressed lust for blog hits, quelled by my brain telling me that having fifty loyal readers (you’re still here? Yes, you!) is better than a thousand one-click-wonders.

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Categories: Thoughts | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Shoot, it’s a driveby culture

  1. Rob

    Well Dave, I’ve only just met you, and I can’t say I really ‘know’ you, but each time one of your posts appears on my ‘wall’ I’ve clicked it and read it. Now, I can’t say I’ve read through your archives (that would be a little stalkerish yes?) but from what I’ve read so far, I’m quite impressed. I’m not really a blog fan per se, however if someone actually writes about things that they are passionate about, and doesn’t come off as arrogant and self-righteous, I tend to keep reading. So good on you for gaining another reader! (Oh and xkcd tie-ins also helped immensely ;-)

    • Cheers Rob! xkcd tie-ins are definitely a part of my future plans… it’s sometimes a bit over my head on the computer comics, but the social commentary and nerd jokes often raise a smile.

  2. I guess formatting could help retain a reader; I read a techcrunch article about formatting articles for web audiences a while ago… (here’s a link to something I found similar; http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html.

    • Looks interesting M@ – I like the heatmap patterns! I’ve been reading a book on science communication which emphasises the main aspect of getting people’s attention, which is introducing tension into the story/article early – the first two paragraphs, which you hope most people will read, are your ‘hook’.

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