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Roles in the Blogosphere – Part 1

Dear Reader,

Lately, in between minor software project I’ve been reading a lot of blogs a lot lately. I call it research, my wife (the lovely and talented Kathy) calls it my latest time-sink. Either way, it’s a fun diversion when JavaScript pisses me off.

During my time spent with my fellow ‘citizen journalists’ patterns began to emerge before my very eyes. Either these are generalizations of the blogers that make up the blogosphere or the aliens really are in control at Comcast and are manipulating the very fabric of space-time…and Pete Cashmore’s blog. We’ll assume for the moment that it’s patterns.

Those of you who know me know that I am not a Psychologist. (Those of you who don’t know me will have to take my word for it.) I have however, watched enough re-runs of Frazier to feel qualified to don a white coat and pontificate on this subject of “Emerging Patterns in the Blogosphere”. (If this were a movie, it would be at this point that the titles would grow real big over the image of a spinning globe. If you can actually see that in your head then you need more help than this article will be able to give.)

A bit of a diversion before I dive whole-hog into describing the roles themselves. These are not black and white divisions. As I look at the 5 categories, most of the great bloggers I know fit easily into 2 of them. The worst bloggers that I am aware of are those who fit into one and only one category. I’m not really sure why that is.

This is not an exhaustive list of the roles bloggers play. These are just the ones that are starting to emerge as I read. Just like software generally falls into design patterns, so bloggers generally fall into categories. Here are the ones I see.

Role #1: The Author:

Ok, first, before you go DUH, not all bloggers are authors; but some are. Authors are the people that make the blogosphere go ’round. An author is a blogger that creates original content. Like mine, it may not always be good content, but it is usually original content. Two good examples of Authors (other than my own blog) are joelonsoftware.com and freelancefred.com.

Note: I am in no way making a favorable comparison of my blog to either of these giants in their respective industry. You on the other hand, are free to do so. If you do, please go over to their blogs and post it!

I define original content as content written by the Author that is of interest to more then just his or her immediate friends and family. There is a place for ‘friends and family’ blogs and I’m not belittling them but I am mainly discussing semi-pro and professional bloggers. This is the first attribute of the blog of an Author; they produce original content.

Authors are by nature people who have a strong or educated (sometimes even both) opinion about a subject. They are the people you know who can talk for hours on end about a specific subject. They have a passion for their subject and that drives them to continually improve and refine their knowledge base. The difference between an Author and an expert is that an Author shares his knowledge and his passion for his subject with others else through his blog. This is the second attribute of the blog of an Author; an Author wants to share what he knows with anyone who will listen.

Finally, Authors convert their knowledge and passion into a central theme for their blog. They may deviate from time to time, wandering off course and sometimes all over the map; but you know they will always come back to their theme. Bloggers that wander all over the place talking about everything from the score to what happened at school yesterday are not Authors. Sometimes they are interesting but they fall into a category that is for a later post. This is the third attribute of the blog of an Author; the underlying theme is that there is a theme.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)

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