Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Knew There was a Reason I Never Started Smoking, I Was Waiting for Something Better

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This article over at Blog Reading: Kind Of Like Getting A Nicotine Fix caught my eye this morning because as you probably guessed it, i am obsessive about reading my blogs with the various tools i use and particularly checking blog aggregating services like Techmeme . Of course, there is nothing like a story about bloggers and blog readers to get a blogger excited (how many times can i say blog and get away with it?)

As the post on states the study was conducted with only a few people (15) and 11 of them are bloggers to boot - but some interesting findings.

I see the use of blogs continuously growing behind corporate firewalls as a new way to communicate with employees and across groups, online newspapers like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal among most of the other biggies, are also pushing out blogs. And it seems that they are having some success (just based on simple comment engagement that i see) so it is important to understand the behavior that drives people to read blogs if you want to make them successful. Some items from the report:
  • study participants who labeled their blog-reading time as “chilling out” and “doing nothing,”>>yeah i am chilling right now so there has to be some 'pleasure' involved don't make your post read like a dissertation
  • one describing his impulse to read blogs as similar to his cigarette habit. >> sure i get a bit jumpy when i can't check my favs, some people have America Idol- i got my blogs so put that in your pipe and smoke it
  • the blog readers typically professed little stress about information overload in trying to keep up with their favorite blogs. When they got behind on reading posts, they just skipped the old ones. >>yep love that 'read all' feature on Google reader- free me please and please recycle that big pile of newspapers in the corner of my kitchen as well!
  • Habitual reading can become potentially detrimental when people disengage mentally and don’t think very critically about what they’re reading. >>not any different from print media where people believe what they read because it is 'published'
Most importantly i think is this comment by one of the study authors Eric Baumer:

I think this finding helps to open up the design space in terms of tools to support blog reading. Rather than focusing on helping readers wade through a deluge of information content, one could envision tools that focus on the reader’s relationship with the blogger or allowing more fluid, nuanced interactions between bloggers and readers.

Bingo- remember years ago we were having conversations about whether a blog was a blog if it didn't allow comments? Comments now are an essential part of building relationships with users. And the evolution of blogging will continue- there are going to be many new tools to engage readers with the content and each other, things like:
  • using alternative ways to push content like using Twitter to 'publish' posts
  • Matching the readers 'Attention' to specific blog posts (see search example on RAM and Whiskey blog)- so the first posts the visitor sees when visiting a blog are the most relevant to them based on their current attention profile
  • allowing readers to comment beyond text for example with video replies
  • allowing 'real-time' chat on blogs- once you post (i just had this experience today with Tangler with a DataPortability logo chat at the bottom of this page not a blog but the concept is an interesting one especially for heavily trafficked and commented site)
What other ways have you seen out there or can imagine that will change how 'blogs' engage their readers?

Picture of the Portuguese 'SG' cigarette by lanier67.

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