Friday, August 12, 2005

Where do blog guidelines come from?

Where do blog guidelines come from?

My long-time readers know that I've covered this repeatedly. But for new readers, and those who still don't fully grasp where best practices and guiding principles originate, here's yet another explanation.

Let's get super-primitive, and start with some basic concepts.

Why Principles for
Anything At All?

(1) Everything in life has guiding principles.

(2) Nothing in life can be done haphazardly, chaotically, sloppily, in total anarchy.

It's either impossible to do it for any length of time without disastrous results, or it's not allowed by laws and peer pressure, or it's distasteful and repulsive to others.

(3) Individual feelings and impulses must be understood, and sometimes must be controlled, stopped, or modified, with self-discipline.

Parents know this to be true. The pampered, uncontrolled and uncontrollable person is no fun to be around, and tends to be selfish, prone to violent or loud outbursts, and not physically fit or healthy.

The ancients called this "stoicism", "nirvana", "extinguishing wanton craving", "inner awareness", and "maturity".

(4) When it comes to technology, it's not so much "right" vs. "wrong". It's more "effective" vs. "counter-productive". Or "works well" vs. "backfires".

(5) Most technology products come with instruction manuals, online help, or suggestions for optimum usage and best results.

(6) "Best practices" and "general guidelines" are not invented arbitrarily in order to mess with your mind and make you upset.

These fundamental rules or basic principles are based on the intrinsic nature of the technology, the features built in, the purpose they were designed to fulfill, observations of typical users attempting to complete tasks, and lessons learned from other, relevant technologies.

For example, lessons learned in memo writing may apply to email composition, and then also to blog postings. Not necessarily, but possibly.

(7) We may all experiment with modifying or even defying and opposing any rules we want. But we also have to be prepared to suffer the consquences. Sometimes the overthrow of tradition results in very positive outcomes. Still, it's good to know the rules before you set about breaking them.

How Are Blogging Principles
Invented and Agreed Upon?

(1) Current pioneers and early blog innovators, such as Tim Berners-Lee, Jorn Barger, Joel Spolksy, Dave Winer, Amy Gahran, Doc Searls, Evan Williams, Rebecca Blood, and Robin Miller, discovered or invented good methods and established reliable standards.

(2) Web usability analysts and blogologists have studied users attempting to achieve various goals, find information, or perform a function, and have observed what helps and what hinders users.

(3) Trained or experienced blog users and blog creators discover their own guiding principles based on actual practice.

(4) Quality standards and effective methods from related fields, like software engineering, web design, information architecture, library science, literary criticism, philosophy, social science, anthropology, art, and psychology can often be imported to the realm of blogs and blogging.

(5) Blogologists who spend much time and effort visiting blogs, creating blogs, experimenting with blogs, and analyzing blogs--plus studying other blogologist's opinions and research--often come up with valuable and valid guidelines.

Do I Have to Obey
Blogological Methods?

No, you don't. No one will force you to do anything with a blog.

But why not take advantage of proven or intuitively logical principles that seem to work in most cases, most of the time?

Of course there are no prison terms or fines put on you if you choose to ignore or defy any blog guidelines.

And you can find blogs that violate many principles, yet are still popular and seemingly successful.

The reasons why these blogs have high traffic numbers and are praised by others may have nothing to do with the blog quality or value. There are many factors involved in the success of anything.

Can you not think of many films, music bands, political beliefs, religious institutions, recreational activities, television shows, or even drugs that are highly popular and are making tons of money, but you despise or find boring, dangerous, unethical, crazy, or immoral?

Blog guidelines as expressed by thought leaders, innovators, pioneers, creators, consultants, and ordinary bloggers who simply delight in pondering such things, these guidelines can be of great assistance to anyone who really wants to understand blogging...and waste no time with dubious practices, some of which may be illegal or socially unacceptable.

Stay tuned.

Plenty of principles are explained in my various blogs. Test them and decide if they have any value to you. Tell me of any that you've discovered that might help me.

We're all in this blogging experiment together, whether you read, comment, or create.

Here's to your success and happiness as a blogger or blog reader! Cheers!

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Hans said...

These hours you wrote this post go into Bloghistory: Thank you Steven, exept maybe:

(1) Everything in life has guiding principles.

(2) Nothing in life can be done haphazardly, chaotically, sloppily, in total anarchy.

Think on your Art Test Explosion Blog, doesnt it need its own little liberty too ? Pretty chaotic, sloppy, anarchic and further. Nobody cares about bad art, as about bad blogs, its the referals and the attention wich gives the creds. So dont make a new communism for Blogs ;-)

steven edward streight said...

Grijsz: thanks...I think.


I'm not sure why you say my first two points are not correct.

Is there anything in life that has no guiding principles? Anything that can be done in total anarchy?

You probably know by now that I claim that all government is corrupt, archaic, and basically unnecessary, at least as it exists now.

The USA government mostly wastes taxpayer money on Special Interest Groups, "Pork", "robbing Peter to pay Paul", and other foolish things.

So I am no friend of tyranny, political party machines, hypcrite religious institutions, unethical corporations, uptight parental authority, any "because I said so, that's why" or "that's our tradition, that's why" type attitudes from any source.

Art and Anarchy? I never slop my art around, but if any of my art seems sloppy, anarchy, chaotic, let me know.

If I see your point, I'll delete it.

I'll destroy any art that people think is stupid, sloppy, boring, messy, amateur.

If people don't like it, I probably won't either, and art that is hated due to slop needs to vanish.

I thought Communism was about State Ownership of All. I thought Communist art was forced to promote the party message, no abstract experimentation.

But I don't know much about Communism and Art, I admit that right now.

Mao Tse Tung art sucks though, it looks like religious cult art, like Jehovah's Witness bleak and boring and people pointing slightly upward futuristically.

I like Constructivism, Futurism, Cubism, Mysticism, Abstract Expressionism,

and mainly:

Deconstruction, Surrealism, and Dada.

The strangeness of Dada was protest against the cruelty of war.

Again, no usability analyst or blogologist is making any You MUST Do This rules.

Just You Might Want to Think About This, Because It Seems To Work Most of the Time in Most Cases We Know of Now.

carrie said...

i think it's cool when blogs are ironic or make fun of themselves.

steven edward streight said...

Carrie: I agree so much. The Cluetrain ideology is to make online business very different from traditional stuffy, self-impressed, arrogant styles.

To be funny, self-parodying, sarcastic, to a certain degree, when appropriate for your industry or audience, is a plus.

Some businesses cannot swerve from dignified tones, but most can loosen up a bit and be more like regular guys and gals, admit shortcomings and failures, be more real, more honest.

Voix said...

"What we learn to do, we learn by doing." -- Aristotle.

steven edward streight said...

"What we do well, we do by knowing what not to do."- Arrow Startle