Platforms and Voices

On Blogging, Voice, and Audience

It seems that the purpose and shape of blogging and personal websites is changing, and indeed has been in fairly rapid flux for the past few years. The major disruptor to the "bloggin revolution" of several years ago was the allure of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which enable writers to find an audience and express their ideas with almost zero friction.

The downside of these platforms, however, is that these social platforms are ephemeral; posts quickly scroll off the page for good. Yesterday's tweet might as well not even have happened. What is the purpose of putting ideas into such a fleeting ecosystem? Isn't there something valuable about have a site to serve as anchor and archive of one's writing?

Writers now are rediscovering the personal writing platform, this time transcending the narrow format of the "blog." The quick, daily notices that used to consume blogs are now properly found in social media sites. The personal site, however, is a place for more substantial and long-form writing, or for series of articles that serve an educational role.

My own concern is to build a platform for my voice, and to find an audience. Well, not an audience as much as an extended conversation. It is easy to find a group of people on Twitter and Facebook, and harder to have a meaningful conversation. As such, these social platforms can serve an important auxiliary role but should not subsume the writer's voice.

On platforms and voice

My idea is to use the blog for quick thoughts and time-sensitive posts, with links to static pages with more long-form articles on topics of interest. The main site should have some sort of structure, though I am still pondering that issue.

The central requirement, however, is to find the right voice. Key questions:

  • What is the purpose of the site?
  • What value and distinctiveness does it have in the current landscape?
  • What value will it have to one's larger career - teaching, writing, speaking?

Essentially, the question is why should the writer care, and why should anyone else care? They will care not because the site has information, but because it has a distinctive voice.