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I know E2 is not a blog, but it's a place to try out writing styles and that's what I'm doing. This is a blog, based on the daylog posted yesterday by telbij.

That daylog referred to The Grandiose Bullshitter, as a breed of blogger and expressed concern over the fact that people who write these things attract readers, comments and other traffic.

I was sitting on the toilet this morning thinking about why that might be and came up with this shallow, ill-thought-out idea. I'll try to write it as incoherently as possible with the aim of stumbling upon the formula of google-juice success.

These people have something to say.

We all know that my previous attempts at a fascinatingly detailed teen angst bullshit day log attracted no interest and no traffic. Mostly because all my radical ideas about teen angst have already been written. Not only written, but most adults are bored with that stage of life. While a brilliant writer might be able to grab my interest in teen angst, the first sentence has got to be good to keep me reading. The second sentence too. If I'm still reading after three paragraphs, then the author has done extremely well.

Why do we read columnists in the newspapers? because they have something to say and they say it well. We read those columns because they discuss subjects to which we can relate. And then they write it in a way which entertains and informs and, most of all, provokes a response.

I don't understand modern art, but I know a lot of it is created with the prime purpose of provoking an emotional response and forcing the observer out of a state of abstract disconnectedness, and into a state of active involvement in the art.

A good piece of writing achieves the same result. It gets the reader involved, either emotionally or intellectually.

The key to being a good columnist is not so much the ability to write, as finding good subjects to write about. Those subjects are, by definition, the subjects which interest the audience. The next step is finding a way to write about them that presents a new point of view or adds insight into the subject.

The best columnists are a little provocative. They take their subject to an extreme; they present an alternative viewpoint; they deliberately challenge our comfortable assumptions and offer an alternative perspective.

Not just that, but they use humour, insight and hyperbole to entertain.

Blogs can fall into a number of categories. One is a diary, which is mostly an aide-memoire to the author, and partly to keep a close circle of friends informed about the minutiae of daily life.

A second category are the near-professional writers who, through their work or their contacts, have insight into a particular subject. They use their contacts and that insight to report on developments in their own specialised field. Often a few people who share an interest will join together to write a combined blog.

Why? because writing something insightful each and every day is challenging. There are not many people who can sustain that for any period of time. One simply runs out of ideas. Bringing seven people together means each one only has to write one article each week. That is much less daunting than one a day. Each author can use the other six days to generate ideas.

This is the most important aspect of being a writer who regularly produces 500 words or so for public consumption. Those 500 words need to inform, entertain, persuade or provoke. If they don't, then the author might as well not have bothered, because their words will not be widely read, except by the author and maybe a few close, loyal friends.

Occasionally a noder will try it. I have watched a few people attempt to produce 500 words a day. I always admire them and want to encourage. They last a week or two or maybe even three, before they realise that simply producing 500 words a day is easy. Making those 500 words interesting to the E2 audience — or any audience — is far more difficult.

If, as a writer, you can produce 500 words of interesting copy every day, and sustain that for a couple of months, then you are well on your way to becoming a professional. Editors, publishers and others do not pay for mere words. They pay for interesting, provocative ideas, translated into words.

So now we move to the Grandiose Bullshitter. This type of author is the unpaid columnist of the blogosphere. telbij complains that such columns attract comments and votes and interest. The implication is that these blogs are lightweight and take no effort to produce. Instead of complaining, take note. See what provokes the comments, and learn what your audience likes to read and discuss. Dispel any idea that such columns take no effort by writing seven such columns, one for each day of the week.

Then, perhaps, you might learn what real writing is about.

The market came with the dawn of civilization and it is not an invention of capitalism. If it leads to improving the well-being of the people there is no contradiction with socialism. -Mikhail Gorbachev

Was Gorbachev contradicting the basic assumptions of socialism? I don't see a fundamental contradiction.

Consider this: Everyone in the economy gets paid the same monthly salary - regardless of whether you're a child, an engineer, retired, or whatever (yes, people in more difficult jobs may get more "respect" than other jobs, but that's just social conditioning and not related to their salaries). They then spend that money in a market to buy what they want / need. Market pricing still determines prices.

Here's the rub: instead of higher profits going to the producers, the extra money going into those industries just means there is more demand for those products and services. So the money is used to pay new producers in those industries, thus increasing supply - and everyone still has the same monthly salary.

As long as everyone has an equal salary, that is similar to economic democracy. Everyone has an equal amount of "votes" as to what to produce next. The concept of a salary is no longer a "reward" for work (there are plenty of psychological studies that show "rewarding" work results in people liking the work less, and focusing on only the reward as their goal), but as just a method used so that everyone can help determine what goods and services are valuable.

Continued at August 9, 2008

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