Good blogging: do you know it when you see it?

Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately–I’ve been enjoying our lovely wet and cool late spring days here on the high plains with my head stuck pretty much full time in the eighteenth century. (And that is awesome! So long as it’s all in books and in my head, and doesn’t involve period costumes and camping out.) Working on the back porch, watching the rose bushes bloom (finally!) and the hollyhocks and herb garden grow is pretty swell (even if it ain’t Italy.)

If you want some bloggy amusement, head on over to Tenured Radical, who is soliciting ideas in the service of answering some reader mail: what makes for a good blog post? How does it differ from academic writing for books and journals? What do you look for, and which posts do you tend to avoid? Let’s share!

Meanwhile, I heard this song last night on David Dye’s World Cafe, and was reminded that there once was a Velvet Underground song that felt like a fun, happy, summer song:

Yes, I realize that admitting that I listen to World Cafe is an admission of my age. I remember listening to that show when it was kind of hip, back in the early 1990s when I was at Penn, and before it became a show with national reach! Now I guess it’s more for the hip replacement crowd. . .

14 thoughts on “Good blogging: do you know it when you see it?

  1. Blogging, as all writing, should be first well written immaterial of content and subject. Can’t read badly written fiction or a formal mathematical analysis that’s badly written. Then come: concise, offering something new, honest and appropriate for the content. The latter explained by examples. Criticizing the Right may I evolve literary spitting. Analysis of group should be respectful.

    I read only five blogs.


  2. I can’t find an especially good clip of it, but my favorite fun happy Velvet Underground/Lou Reed song is “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together.” The version on 1969 sounds like VU goes to the beach. The side of the beach behind the dunes and out of sight of lifeguard/authority figures, of course, but still, the beach.


  3. No apologize for stuck in 18th c! But can we haz a creepy doll head post from said garden at some point, maybe with a cat or two on the side?** I can see the World Cafe from out my back window, at least part of the year, but don’t really listen. I do remember David Dye from ‘MMR back in the days, though, as well as all of the other ‘XPN alums and emigres who worked there.

    This is the only blog I read, save for an occasional click-through on a link here.

    ** More VU, too, svp.


  4. Glad you’re hanging out in the garden, and in the 18th C. As long as you don’t have to live there, it’s a lot more fun than the 21st!


  5. Lurching our way into winter here, frosty mornings when it is not rainy. Yesterday I woke up so sick I could barely lift my head from the pillow but the sky was clear and by early afternoon my SO was pestering me to go out and sit in the sun, even if I needed to be bundled up to do it. I struggled my way outside to a chair in the sun and for sure, he was right. I was still sick as a dog but it seemed a lot more tolerable.

    Good blogging? I hope to learn something, enjoy the writing, and benefit from the dialog in comments, whether or not I participate.


  6. David Dye is a very nice man who hangs out at the coffee shop I like to frequent when school is not in session. That said, his private taste in music is terrible. He loves himself some prog rock. When World Cafe started it was a bizarro mix of prog and world music. He hit on the singer songwriter thing by accident and freely admits it’s not a genre he listens to on his own. How weird is it that World Cafe is so huge it has it’s own performance spaces and eating spot now.

    I advise the music club at the K-12. We usually do a thing where everybody describes how and where they listen to music and how they find new music etc. etc. When I said I listened to ‘XPN, one of the kids asked which station that was and I replied “it’s the one for old guys who don’t realize their old yet and still think they are hip.” The club president (who interned at ‘XPN later and worked for Dye) replied “and that’s my dad in a nutshell. He keeps trying to get me to The Finn Brothers.” FWIW I now spend way more time listening to Kids’ Corner.


  7. I remember Kids’ Corner too–with Michaela Mejune, playing “Star Trekkin'” night after night, over and over. . .

    “it’s the one for old guys who don’t realize their old yet and still think they are hip.” Pretty much! Tell your students that the women who listen are much likelier to know we’re no longer hip, but we’re OK with listening anyway.

    And Truffula–I hope you feel better soon. I always get sick in seasonal transitions–must be weird to be looking at winter in June & July.


  8. If I could shift the parameters a bit from “good” blogging (beauty being in the eye of the beholder) to “readable/compelling blogging, I’m going to say that it should be both personal and relatable (expecting, of course, that the balance between those two will vary from post to post).

    One rule I’ve been unconsciously following is: Only blog when you have something to say. I once read a just-starting blog in which the writer was soliciting opinions as to how often s/he should post. The goal here was to generate traffic, and if that’s the goal, then consistency is important (when I go on long hiatus, my traffic drops way off). But that approach can lead to some pretty empty posts.


  9. Agreed, Notorious. And as the originator of the post, I would also say that most of us started out writing the kind of posts we would never write now: things we felt guilty about not having done this week, the “I feel bad about not blogging” post, the “a funny thing happened on the way to a faculty meeting” post, and so on. Which, as long as a person does nothing silly or embarrassing (I did, but what-EVAH) is probably fine. There are a few blogs (Historiann’s was actually one of them, so is Nursing Clio) that are more intentional from the get-go, but lots of them aren’t.)

    And if there are any nubies reading: one of the best ways to generate traffic is to comment intelligently on other people’s blogs, causing them to wonder who you are.

    But my traffic totally went through the roof when I stepped in the $hit with KC and the Sunshine Band over at DIW. Which just proves that for bloggers, there is really no such thing as bad publicity.


  10. And if there are any nubies reading: one of the best ways to generate traffic is to comment intelligently on other people’s blogs, causing them to wonder who you are.

    I actually started bloggeing because two motherfuckers whose blogges I was commenting on basically forced me to start my own blogge. One was DrugMonkey–a science blogger focused on the federal NIH funding game–and the other was Driftglass–a political blogger. So that is how my blogge started as a mix of politics and business-of-science shitte.


  11. I try to follow the ‘only blog when you have something to say’ principle, but end up wracking my brain trying to find ‘something to say’ sometimes. Then other times, news events (such as Thatcher’s death) go so fast, that I feel it’s impossible to blog about and keep things relevant.

    Also, I suck at keeping blogposts under 1000 words. My post on Joy Division and film history last week was around 4,500 words! Brevity and I are like two positively charged ions.


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