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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Seth Godin posted his criteria for blog success. He says blogs work when they’re based on:

Pithiness and

Right now, that tastes bad. Mostly because this blog is nearly none of those. But I also think Seth’s treating blogs a bit narrowly. It’s sortof like saying aluminum cans only deliver pop – when they really deliver anything you can stuff inside them.

Aren’t blogs vehicles for information? Aren’t the ingredients for successful delivery of information: usefulness, clarity, relevance, value, exclusiveness, etc.?

If Seth’s right, blogs don’t have a business app. So a question – Seth, why are you writing a blog then?


well, because my blog is supposed to be candid, pithy, occasionally controversial and sometimes urgent.

And because it’s fun.

Hey Seth, welcome to the experiment. I didn’t mean to say you were none of those. I was suggesting that blogs oriented to business may be none of those but still useful, clear, relevant, valuable, and exclusive – and therefore work.

I was also suggesting, in my question to you, that timeliness, urgency and controversy weren’t major ingredients of your very successful blog. Instead I think you have a bit of a business model going there (you’re an MBA/author after all). I think you’ve got other ingredients you haven’t noted. Perhaps the most powerful absentee is one you suggest here: fun.

I’m very interested in the power and impact of different information vehicles. I think it’s easy to get caught imprinting a typology on forms of information delivery. I was supposing you thought candor, pith, and controversy were information types rather than information characteristics. I wonder if it’s wise to give up the experiment too early.

Either way, I think we can do a lot more with blogs than simply witty current events and sardonic slants. By the way, I’m a raving fan of your ChangeThis experiment (I’m still badgering a buddy to finish a manifesto on “Make Work Make Joy” which we were recently invited to write). So, I recognize that you continue to seek new forms too.

Jeremy, thanks for stopping by and reading abit of my blog, AND for your patient efforts to educate me. Unfoirtunaetley, I’m kinda dense, and I’ve read too much over the past twenty years (or 30) to believe easily that our current paradigm isn’t flawed. We are … I believe … living in a new set of conditions never previously available to humans, and we’re still in the first half of the first inning of what promises to be a much-longer-than-nine-inning game.

Re: blogging … here’s one of the best comments I’ve ever read about blogging, following a post on Kombinat ! titled “The Rise and Fall of Blogging or how to gain an audience”.

The first part is me reciting a snippet of the blog post, followed by Brian’s comment:

I think Weblogs introduce a ‘committed teacher’ back into the world of learning and a committed teacher’s systematic context construction activity. A weblog can only provide a ‘committed teacher’ when the weblog’s author is himself a learner and not a teacher, when an author exposes his blueprint of arriving at synthesis, when weblog posts are a systematic context construction blueprint, where we learn of an author’s road leading to the point of synthesis.

And then there’s always the Happy Tutor

Posted by: Jon Husband | November 17, 2004 02:00 AM

Well…that just about sums it up,

BUT – those that see weblogging as online content publishing aren’t seeing weblogging, they’re seeing online content publishing using weblogging tools. One can use a photocopier to copy a page from a book and store it and use it and cite and reread it over and over and use it with other copies to build something new OR one can use a photocopier to run off a thosuand leaflets to be left in the windshields of cars, announcing one’s new beatles memorobilia shop opening party Saturday night.

I for one came to weblogging thinking I might find an audience and do business instead found some friends. Talk about a Peekaboo!

So, though one attends a party with the intention of schmoozing clients it sometimes happens that out of the blue a beautiful young woman steals your heart. KaBoom!

The weblogging tool may or may NOT open up your peripheral vision.

Happenstance happens.

And, for what it’s worth … I really like your blog … it wanders (but not quite without direction) thoughtfully, and you expose some useful and interesting insights. It’s great … except for the part where you keep pushing “sift” … the blog (you) is doing that without you having to mention it, over and over … just my $.02

Jon, thanks for this note and the spare change.

Like Brian, I came to blogging to find an audience and do business – hence my incessant sift clarion. But, I’m still finding my feet. I (and my blog) suffer from a schizophrenic approach to learning and writing. Some days I think of my blog as a holding tank for all my disjointed ideas. I forget that someone else might be reading this. And in that oblivion I throw around self-affirming references to sift’s purpose. I’m trying to find my/sift’s voice.

Then other days I think I should be a sharp economist, tie broad ideas together and march happily through the confusion around me spreading tidings of good news and great joy.

So far the aimless wandering is teaching me a lot. I don’t know about anyone else.

But, I do see the quiet brilliance of the quote you brought. It’s easy to get caught up in a fake voice. To become the teacher I’m not, instead of the learner I am. But you’ve got me wondering about your comment, “[your blog] wanders (but not quite without direction) thoughtfully, and you expose some useful and interesting insights.” If I’m going to be obvious about my learning path, mustn’t this blog wander? Aren’t all these ideas necessarily related – by and through me? It’s this funny metaphysical juxtaposition. Ordered without reason vs. reason without order.

If I’m going to be obvious about my learning path, mustn’t this blog wander? Aren’t all these ideas necessarily related – by and through me? It’s this funny metaphysical juxtaposition. Ordered without reason vs. reason without order.

yes … that’s what I was trying to say … you just said it better than me.

Sorry about not using italics to denote where the “comments” quoted above stop. The last line of Brian’s comment is “Happenstance happens”.

BTW, David Weinberger has up on his blog (and I just posted about it on mine) his presentation to the Library of Congress on “Blogs and Knowledge”. It’s excellent .. I hope you get the time to watch or listen to it.

Jon, funny, I’m just now half way through David’s speech. Thanks!

Re: your And in that oblivion I throw around self-affirming references to sift’s purpose. I’m trying to find my/sift’s voice.

I do understand. I have fought with myself for a long time to avoid explaining what i think “wirearchy” is every second blog post .. and yet get disappointed some times when it doesn’t seem more obvious, useful and/ or important to others. The fact remains, I think, that there are ‘archy” words for various sets of conditions, and there is none to date for the interconnected interlinked age of information/knowledge.

So on my blog I err on the side of (very Canadian) reservedness and try to avoid (generally) pushing the notion. But maybe I do, too much – I dunno.

I’m new at this and it doesn’t seem that the balance is easily achieved. On one hand there’s the tension between branding is dead and brands are conversations. On the other is the pre-defined notions about the uses of blogs (which is what I was on about initially).

I agree with you that, at my current rate, plugging sift is going to be more monotonous than profitable. A lot more could be accomplished by keeping the posts provocative and insightful. That’s the conversations/branding part. But, when I read blogs I rarely think about hiring the person that writes them. And, I think, to a certain extent, it’s because I’ve bought the pre-conceived notions I was writing about when discussing Seth Godin’s post.

When I get to the end of one of my posts I often think: “I wonder if anyone will think of me doing this for their company.” When the answer’s no – I drop in a sentence or two about sift.

My only good models of success at this aspect of messaging are the entrepreneurs I work with. And from them there’s a constant, pulsing message: “I do that.” So after a while I associate anything career with that guy, anything real estate with the other guy, anything innovative with another guy … and I think that’s valuable. At least for them.

But I don’t do that with “normal” people. I didn’t do that after reading your site. I don’t do that after reading most blogs. I want people to do that when they read mine. Know what I mean?

Yes … I do. And I guess I’d probably do that on a / my web site, whereon I’d set out my philosophy, methodology, value proposition, bla bla … and I’d link to my blog, and vice versa. That said, I have a web site (wirearchy.com), upon which i have managed to completely obfuscate my philosophy, methodology, value proposition, bla, bla, … and I haven’t updated it for months and months .. and my lack of “work” from that source reflects the obfuscation.

I must say .. that I like what i have inferred from the term “sift”, which is that i think so many of us are trained, both consciously and through socio-cultural programming, to analyze, think in cause-and-effect terms, come up with the “one” right solution … and the new conditions we’re in, that we’re all learning about, make this approach less and less effective in many ways, every month that goes by. I think we need to skim, sift, maintain an “open focus”. learn how to use high-level pattern recognition skills, dive deep every once in a while when we need to, rise back up to the surface, read, skim, sift, keep going … and drag ourselves along that time-worn continuum from data to information to knowledge to meaning to wisdom. I like – very much – the notion of sifting … but I’d get more from “watching” it in action, experiencing it as I read your blog without the semi-constant … I think you already do an admirable job of that. So, basically, i think .. maybe .. it’s just a style thing, since I really think you’re already offering it to your potential audience.

It’s that old “pull” versus “push” thing, no ?

This is good advice Jon. It answers a nagging question too: What’s my web page for? Every week or so I think I should hack out that page and just blog. But I think I’ll agree with you instead.

Use the page to push (describe) sift as a product. Use the blog to pull (join) my readers in the sifting process.

There’s the teacher/student tension too, right?

Teach about sift on the homepage. Learn to sift in the blog.

Anyway, I’m learning from you. Thank you for your advice.

Cool. Likewise.