Content with Popoularity

This afternoon I received an interesting comment on my last blog entry (see England’s New Dawn & the comment by descartes1).

Today in England Fabio and Harry have dominated every headline. But have the broadsheets, tabloids, broadcasters, tweeters and bloggers (myself included) been guilty of pedalling popularity over genuine news?

I’m a big fan of the BBC’s broad coverage of news and current affairs, but today they are certainly as guilty as anyone of promoting England’s search for a new national team coach at the expense of all other items. The dreadful footage of shelling in Syria has been bumped further and further down the agenda to make way for the inane opinions of average ex-footballers on England’s current management dilemma.

Don’t get me wrong, many people care passionately about Fabio’s successor, but at the same time most have absolutely no interest. This morning millions of people will have tuned in for their daily digest of relevant British and World events, but have been met with a gurning Garth Crooks lamenting our chances at Euro 2012. As a football fan myself even I am bored of this blanket coverage. I’m also genuinely interested in the Levenson Inquiry, The Bank of England’s interest rate announcement and the plight of innocent Syrian civilians, but they have been blacked out to make way for more football. So is this irresponsible journalism, celebrating uneducated popular culture?

This blog has helped me understand the reasoning behind the universal media’s decision. I try hard to be relevant, to vary my content and to at least push out a few credible posts each week – but when I do nobody reads them! They’re dull, pointless and void of controversy. However whenever I try and analyse the Six Nations, Redknapp’s accounts, or another woeful cricket performance people log on – they read, like and comment on every post in their hundreds. I can’t win – I have to either bow to popularity and keep writing about sport or persist with responsible blogging and write solely for myself…

And I only write a simple blog, I’m not trying to increase viewing figures, circulation or ad revenues!

So sorry, I will continue to analyse the popular headlines is a vain attempt to drive up my hits, and only occasionally slip in a relevant yet very boring update (just like this one).

What are the blogging ground rules?

I feel I need to establish some solid ground rules – it’s important that I have a set ‘code of conduct’ to control my daily posts.

Two immediate topics spring to mind, both naturally linked and both very important.

The first is the question of anonymity; is this an anonymous blog or should I be open about who and what I am? I have put some real thought into this… but I have come to the conclusion that I have to open up.

This is largely because I don’t have enough time to properly construct an anonymous persona. Ultimately I want people to be able to read this blog and I therefore need the freedom to promote it, link to it and direct my family, friends and loose connections towards it. I don’t have the time, ingenuity or will to construct and populate alternative social media sites to market this largely pointless blog. So the only way I can inform my small circle that “I blog” is to basically promote it through my personal twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Therefore if you now look to your right you will see my twitter feed, which clearly states my name; follow the links and it is easy to find out where I work, what I do, and who I am. It’s a big decision, but I have reached the point of no return, I have linked myself to this blog.

This both leads to and answers the next essential element, namely how colourful can I be with my content… and by that I mean my language? Now I don’t want a stale, stagnant, dull blog, and will do my best with the glorious English language to write with sentiment and style. But I am not anonymous, so I need to at least hold back and not use my full “loose” vocabulary.

I do work in a nasty, male dominated office and occasionally, very occasionally, I have been known to utter the odd rough profanity. In fact our group swear pot for 2011 swelled into a sizeable fund, enough to provide a substantial, hearty Christmas lunch! But that language must not find its way onto this blog. Rule set.

I really hope I don’t update this blog when I’m drunk, at least WordPress make it very easy to edit!

A message?

If I was looking for a message from above that I should persist with the blog, maybe the sight of the stunning purple sky at North Sheen station this morning (my first ever morning of blogging) is just what I need.

20120117-074849.jpgWell my basic attempt to keep my blog secret failed desperately last night, as I cannot sit silently tapping (editing) on my laptop without my inquisitive wife ‘needing’ to know why. The problem is my wife actually is a journalist, a very good journalist, whose very nature is to both enquire and critique. But perhaps this is not such a bad thing, as not only have I acquired my first reader, I have also employed a trained editor (or perhaps I should say critic).

But she wasn’t too harsh, she actually seemed quite impressed. However she did make some valid ‘suggestions’:

1) I need to read more blogs. I need to understand what people write and more importantly why people read.

2) I must not try too hard. People who try to hard to be witty, interesting or intelligent all completely fail.

3) An honest, irrelevant blog could be readable, but don’t expect immediate success.

All very helpful, thank you sweetheart.

So thanks to my editor I feel like I have a little more direction. Perhaps I was too quick to dismiss my new father position and my stimulating career yesterday – both will naturally form part of my day-to-day observations. In fact this blog should be something like a twice daily diary, a vehicle to document what actually is an exciting, happy and interesting time of my life.

I could try and be clever, delete this blog and start again, writing in the first person as my little boy or as an anonymous controversial sports commentator. But I won’t, I will stick with this honest (if a little pointless) commuter blog. If nothing else it has certainly achieved the desired effect, my commute this morning has flown past, despite not managing to grab that illusive seat.

And I have achieved at least one other major goal today, I now know how to both take a picture and upload it using my iPad….I am a blogger in training.

Doing it

I’m doing it.

I am standing on the platform at St. James’ Park underground station, waiting for the tube. Officially I am both commuting and blogging.

The most immediate apparent problem is that it is difficult to stand, hold an iPad and type…and I’m not even on a squashed tube yet. It’s going to be tricky and I’m going to have to work on my standing iPad blogging technique. Evidently thumb typing is a skill I am going to have to strongly develop.

Time is not an issue. I reckon I should have enough time to write valid entries. My problem is content; what to write?

I am a “relatively” new father (13 months into it), but there are hundreds of novice dad blogs out there already written by considerably more talented and capable writers than myself. I work in sport for a reputable sports agency, but again I cannot stand out from the mass of journalists and ex-pros who have both reputation and worthy opinion on sport.

Frustratingly I am not uninteresting, I have had a number of notable experiences… For example I lived in West Africa for a year (Cameroon and Ghana) and have a host of observations, opinions and anecdotes from that reasonably rare life. But that was 6years ago, not exactly current. Similarly my single, lively, hedonistic (!) past is now a distant memory. I need to face the fact that currently I’m just not that interesting.

Therefore my only niche can be general “life observation”.

But it’s working. Whilst typing I have bumped my way onto the train, and even have a seat. My typing still isn’t great, I seem to be limited to either 2 index fingers, 2 thumbs or one complete hand. The latter seems to be the best option, so in the short term I will go with it.

And i’m enjoying it. I already feel superior to the Brickbreakers, Angry Birders, Facebookers, basic Tweeters and even the Standard readers. One commute in is still early days but I shall stick with it. Each of these distinctly average entries could be my last, but maybe I will experience something unique. Maybe tomorrow my life will become much more interesting…

Epiphany

I’ve always loved the word epiphany.

As an old Theology graduate the word itself has always conjured up images of heavenly rays of light arrowing down and ‘opening the eyes’ of a heathen unbeliever. It is a beautiful sounding word, ancient, almost onomatopoeic, full of Greek charm.

Well I have just had an epiphany – I have just been struck – I must start blogging.

There have been 2 major catalysts for my epiphany:

  1. Yesterday my boss, whilst proof-reading an email, told me,  “you write just like you speak”- I took this as a big compliment, although I am sure this wasn’t his intention.
  2. Then, on the same day, I hit 200 followers on Twitter.

With my tweets I am limited to just 140 characters and with such limitations I struggle to make my point. Yet I can link to a blog from my twitter feed (once I have written something interesting) and be free of all constraints.

I have a 45 minute commute to work (twice a day), largely on the tube where intermittent internet access is extremely frustrating. Despite owning an iPad I am limited as to what I can do underground, and I desperately want to appear more intellectual than the mass of gamers and metro rustlers on my carriage.

Therefore I am going to write this blog. I am going to use my hour and a half to ‘generate some content’ worth reading. Once I have done this I am going to announce the blog to the world (well, my 205 followers), and hopefully become a blogging sensation.

Now I just need to think of something interesting to write (twice a day).