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Reading Blogs versus Reading Traditional Print Media

by Tom Johnson on Jan 19, 2007
categories: blogging technical-writing

Yesterday my wife needed to use the computer for a while, and since we cut our cable TV, I decided to open up the Intercom to read some of the articles. After reading for about a half hour, I thought about the differences between reading blogs and traditional print media. My conclusion: the interactive nature of blogs makes the reading experience more enjoyable.

With Intercom, I first read Keith Hoffman's Web 2.0 article. It was an informative read, but I felt myself wanting to make a little comment at the end of the article. Something like, hey Keith, it's good ground you cover, but can you tie it back to technical writing more?

I then read my own article on podcasting. I realized I'd done the same thing -- left out the topic of technical writing. Still, I liked the way I interwove the quotes into my article. Can you believe that 90% of those quotes came from podcasts I'd listened to while driving or working out?

I kept reading, including Neil Perlin's article on how writing is becoming industrial (still not sure about that title), but I soon found that reading traditional print media is a bit boring, basically because there is no interaction with the material. Also, the content is very professional, which leaves the tone and structure a bit dry. Much of the writing in print magazines almost seems like I'm reading a report rather than a personal essay.

Compare this experience with reading blogs via Newsgator, an online service that compiles and sorts blogs I subscribe to. I have at least two dozen technical writing blogs that I track. Newsgator can allow me to read them one by one, or compiled and with the posts sorted by date.


After reading Sarah O'Keefe's Palimpsest blog, I see a link to Monkey PI and read his/her blog (the author is anonymous). After reading the Monkey PI article on RoboHelp, I leave a little comment. Then I move over to Bill Swallow's blog, and find that he has mentioned a comment I left on the Char's Helpstuff blog about my wanting to interview a SME on RoboHelp for Tech Writer Voices.

One blog takes me to another, and the reading experience becomes suspenseful and collaborative. I can comment, and others can respond to my comments, and I can link and be linked to. I both exist and have an influence as a reader.

Although much has been said about the ease of errors that blogging introduces, I find that the authenticity, realness, and candid tone (like being able to write the word "craptastic") makes reading blogs more interesting than traditional print.

So my long term prediction here is that the traditional media will gradually fade and be replaced by blogging. Not only because blogging is more interactive and real, but with 1.3 million new posts each day, who has time to read traditional print books and magazines?

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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