Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blogging Replaces the Art of Letter-writing

"The word that is heard perishes, 
but the letter that is written remains." - Anon.
(and on the internet, remains forever!)

The world today has so few standards, I was surprised to find a new set.  Structured standards for blogs have replaced letter writing and may push that diurnal activity into a discipline worth revisiting. My book promoter even recommends a collection of blog entries offered as an ebook for appeal to a different kind of reader.

Letter writing has a long tradition, of course. Famous letter writers:
  • Marcus Aurelius to his son: more useful for today's reader than to the boy, perhaps
  • Paul of Tarsus to the churches he established
  • Lord Nelson to his mistress Lady Hamilton
  • Eleanor Roosevelt to a journalist friend who critics want to call her lesbian lover
  • W.E.B DeBois to his daughter - journey of an educated ex-slave in America
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh's (simpy) love letters

Ben Franklin was a pamphlet writer and publisher. He even printed colonial money. His writings would fit well into the discipline of blogs with memorable taglines -- A stitch in time saves nine. Franklin published the Poor Richard's Almanac, useful because it listed the daily times the tide went out in Boston Harbor so sailors could manage their shore leave.

Franklin's best advice was 
"Let all men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly."

For us regular people, blogs are quickly supplanting the need/use for letters.  Advice from which writers before the age of blogging could easily transpose to the blog format?

Susan Sontag: On Photography
Stephen King: On Writing
Neil Gaiman: 8 Rules of Writing

Many of these musings were archived on Brain Pickings.  My favorite is Ray Bradbury's "How List Making can Boost Your Creativity."

Standards for quality blogs are dictated by the software known as Wordpress.  I have wanted many features added to my blog site that Wordpress doesn't allow. Plus, I must cooperate with actions that Wordpress rewards. For example, titles should be a certain size, along with section headings at a certain 'level' for the gobots to easily catalogue ideas for search engines

Once a blogger gets comfortable with the limitations of the software, the best (by today's standards of most visited) blogs have these features:

·       from a person with experience in the field
·       to a specific audience who are trying to break into that field
·       with a how-to lesson (optimum 7 steps)
·       presented as a list with examples offered as links
·       includes decorative images (statistics as charts only)
·       exclude the personal journey; lessons learned only
·       brief and terse -- let me repeat -- nobody wants to see how many words you know

What did I neglect in this post?  Some advice for me?


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