John Newton, Alfresco co-founder, is a man I have never met. Regardless of this important fact, I feel like I have gotten to know a small part of him through his blog. While Newton's blog may focus on Alfresco, his posts offers a wide range of insights on subjects such as commercial open source, content management, enterprise software, business processes, and information technology. So if you have any idea of who I am through my own writings it should be no surprise to you that I enjoy giving thought to some of his own articles on my own site.
During the past few months, Newton has been doing what many good bloggers are doing these days...writing guest blogs for professional online publications such as his blog on ZDNet. While I'm glad to see his thoughts reach a broader audience, something regarding his ZDNet posts have been missing for me. Don't get me wrong, the articles on ZDNet are still worth reading but those articles don't seem to have the same "thinking out loud" content I'm accustomed to through his personal blog. Newton finally offered an explanation of why his blogging is different on ZDNet.
The opportunity came up to blog on ZDNet and I thought that it would be easy. I just do what I was doing before, but I would have a bigger audience. Well, it has turned out a lot harder than I thought. Rather than being easier, I took their blogging guidelines to heart and endeavored to be as neutral and unbiased as possible. I also strove to have a theme that could encompass content management, but appeal to a wider audience. Rather than just write what comes to me, I started to look for subjects and read blogs for what might fit my chosen subject of Information Management. What had become a liberating activity had tied my frontal lobes into knots with inhibition. This is slowing my blogging substantially on both on ZDNet and on this blog.
I find the above excerpt from Newton's post interesting. I have often wondered whether it is just content that makes a site a "good blog" or "bad blog". Perhaps a blog is just as dependent on the other things such as the design and appearance of the blog, the online application being utilized, writing guidelines, the intended audience, and even the domain name itself. All these extra elements of a site seems to have just as much influence on the success of a blog as does the content. In the past, I've often considered the other things as "fluff". These days, I'm not so sure content is king.
Would you read the Drudge Report if it was not found at drudgereport.com but instead located on a page found at Fox News? Would you read my posts if they were only found at Open Source Community? Would you rather read articles by John Newton at ZDNet or on his Typepad blog? If the location and look of a blog is just as important as content, then I'm really confused as to whether feed readers have a future with mainstream users.
Suddenly, a blog appears to be something more than just what the author posts for all to read. This is a new revelation to me and I have absolutely no idea what to do with this new found knowledge. Life just got more complicated.