1% of users participate a lot and account for most (Social Media) contributions.
-Dr. Jakob Nielsen
There seem to be a plethora of articles on how to write a blog, and only a paucity on how to read them in such a way that produces significant returns for the labor output.
Let us open with an interesting statistic: 3.3 billion results (this figure may vary by access as is typical of SERPs) can be found by searching Google for the term, blogs.
If we ponder the possibility that only 1% of these results are represented by the actual number currently in existence, that yields 33 million blogs. This figure stands in stark contrast to evaluations of 152 million up to 156 million. But allow us to use our own conservative estimate here, and consider only 33 million. Were one to read 10 blogs a day, devoting 10 minutes per blog, it would require more than the next 10,000 years in doing so. I personally know of few in today’s headlong rush with destiny having that kind of time on their hands.
Further complicating this synopsis is a need in the present business environment to find the needle of accuracy and quality in this haystack of content, so that the information can transition to an assistive nature. Enter a logical and compelling reason for reading blogs in a critical manner.
How then does one critically read a blog? The following guidelines, based on methods used to teach post-secondary students effective study techniques, should prove helpful:
- Paying attention to what is being read, not simply skimming for keywords and formulating a working hypothesis from the result.
- Only conceding a reading session that lasts no longer than one’s individual attention span will allow before the onset of fatigue.
- Previewing, a procedure accomplished by finding the important elements, usually highlighted by:
- Titles (and sub-titles if available)
- Introductory statements or paragraphs
- Initial statements under those headings
- Developing questions based on the information gathered.
- Reviewing after reading.
- Categorizing the gleaned data.
The average person will consider the job done at this point; the thinking person will realize it only half complete. When an adept instructor finishes their lecture, they move to the next stage of curating knowledge – they encourage discussion of the subject matter. In the critical reading of a blog it is a good idea to remember that the social Web is an interactive medium. Adding intelligent comments (which do not include such simple statements as, “Great job,” “Well written,” and the ever popular, “I agree”) in the form of questions, added insight, or even disagreement (which should be backed up by verifiable facts, never opinions, regardless of how well informed) creates an opportunity for dialog, which can lead to the discovery of new knowledge, and offers total quality management and control of online research efforts.
It serves as a consistent source of amazement and amusement to me that so many relevant, on-point blogs are written by preeminent authorities, then given a response equivalent to that of cows staring at a passing train. It is as if the reading audience is watching a television program, thinking it would be stupid to argue, or agree, or even supplant what has been stated. More incredible are those who give in to their passions, and argue, agree, or even supplant what has been stated on the small screen, stupidity be damned, then go on to read a blog and only offer a silent nod of the head in rejoinder. This behavior is on par with walking past a previously undiscovered gold mine, stopping to stuff one’s pockets with a few nuggets, and then moving on with no intention of ever returning or acknowledging its existence to others so they might avail themselves of its riches.
One of the most important competitive business processes that can be conducted is data mining, requiring untold, and therefore undocumented in budgetary expenditures, costs to perform. When blogs are read critically, the ROI of information gathering can be well enhanced, and management of quality investigative procedures maintained.