Blogs are all the rage today. There are millions of them in existence and hundreds of new ones appear every day. Blogs have been hailed as the democratisation of the internet, so people create more of them. They are said to be a search-engine’s favourite thing, so businesses maintain more of them. It’s getting to a point where the blog is becoming the default site structure in many people’s minds. What of the good old static website? Is that a thing of the past? Julie Anne Bonner asked this very question on her blog a while ago which resulted in an ongoing discussion.
To Julie’s initial question, I replied:
First, I don’t think sites are going anywhere.
I think most of us will confuse the issue here and think the difference between sites and blogs is one of technology. That is not actually true because sites that are seemingly static can just as easily be run using a Content Management System, which makes it as easy to update.
The difference between sites and blogs is one of attitude and philosophy. Blogs live in constant state of flux. They are always a work-in-progress, whereas sites generally are a bit more stable and fixed. I think the best way is to think of blogs as magazines and sites as books. Magazines are great but so are books. Popular Science is not going to destroy A Short History of Nearly Everything anytime soon. Nor is Bridget Jones’s Diary going to dethrone Cosmo anytime soon.
Two different beasts, blogs and sites, and neither are going anywhere.
Today Julie posted a follow-up to her question of Websites Vs Blogs and quoted the above comment with some thoughts of her own.
I liked his analogy of comparing blogs to magazines and websites to books. Although I usually only read a book once, but I return to a magazine issue several times. It’s hard for me to throw away a magazine. I subscribe to it for its fresh monthly content too. I read a book and then it gets shelved. Hmmmm….something to think about. 🙂
I see her point about shelving books and keeping magazines. But maybe this is another matter that comes down to personal taste. I shelve the books I have read too, but I have been know to re-read novels I like, and I regularly refer back to books I find useful.
Most magazines, however, I get rid of. I usually remove the articles or pages I need and recycle the rest. I think this has to do with the fact that the noise-to-signal ratio in magazines is generally high, I don’t like keeping all that extra noise around. However, there are some magazines whose content is so solid and timeless that I can’t bear to part with them.
So, ultimately I think the medium matters less than the quality of the content. And I think the most important quality is probably timelessness. Besides, while the magazine-book analogy is a good starting point, it’s not a perfect one when it comes to online material. Even a static site can be modified or added-to as regularly as required. At that point you just might be tempted to take that ‘book’ off the shelf again.
I absolutely empathise with Julie’s recent questioning of the blog format. I’m been going through a similar phase, even though my blog (in it’s new avatar) is quite new. Blogging does sometimes seem like more than a full time job, and the freedom that you dreamed of as one element of this life seems elusive. Over the past few days I’ve come to believe my apprehensions about this might simply be because I’ve still not really settled down into a good posting rhythm, and because I’m doing this too much on a day-to-day basis. This constant pressure to come up with something new “today” is probably what gets discouraging at some point. We all have a few slow days or a few lazy days and we need to be prepared for their imminent arrival.
The way I see it (although I haven’t implemented yet), it would be great to have a good week’s worth of timeless content which you always keep as a backup plan. You don’t post these until you hit a slump, and once you are out of the slump you replenish your backup content with new material to wait till it is required. This way you make use of those times when you’re simply brimming with enthusiasm to create new content, by creating a lot of extra content. And you survive the slumps in productivity by utilising what you stored up for the barren seasons.
It’s all very agricultural. Actually, it’s even older. Animals have been storing away food for the winter long before humans walked the Earth. Maybe this is a good model to follow for bloggers who often find themselves needing a break from the pressures of regular blogging.
How do you schedule your blogging or offline writing activities? How do you make sure you produce a steady flow of material when it is required?