He showed me how he set up a new Google Document to contain the code snippet, then Shared that Google Doc to make it public, and included a shortened URL to the Google Doc in his Tweet. I asked him what (to me) was an obvious question, which led to an enlightening (again, to me) conversation.
The question I asked is “why don’t you just post stuff longer than 140 characters on your blog, and post a link in Twitter, instead of this convoluted Google Docs approach?” His answer (I’m paraphrasing – Kevin, please feel free to correct me):
“Code snippets and the like aren’t really blog posts, are they?”
I said of course they are – after all, it’s your blog, and you can post whatever the heck you want there, right? What’s going to happen? The blog police might come by and say “that’s an illegal blog post!” People might point and laugh? 😉 I was being silly to illustrate my point, but it was at about that point that it dawned on me. I’ve been living in the blogging world for so long that the assumption that “a blog post can be anything you want” is something I just take for granted.
So we chatted for a bit about it. Kevin said he felt that a blog post should be something longer, more robust, and containing more substantial content than “hey, here’s a cool code snippet”. I can see how he’d think that – most of the blog posts he said he reads are like that. Most of the blog posts on the Intel Software Network blog are like that. Heck, most of my blog posts on TinyScreenfuls.com are like that, simply because I’ve been using Twitter as a low-pass noise filter for my blogging, so “smaller” stuff goes out via Twitter. But together we came up with some examples of shorter, less “substantial” blog posts that are just as valid as any other.
Kevin suggested that when I talk to people about blogging, and train new bloggers, that I make it a point to tell them that a blog post doesn’t have to meet a basic set of criteria for length, “quality” (whatever that means), etc. And I’m going to do it. It’s something I’ve always just taken for granted, but that conversation this morning made me a better blogger, a better teacher, and a better evangelist. Thanks, Kevin.
Now it’s your turn. What criteria, explicit or subconscious, do you apply to your blog posts? What makes a “worthy” blog post in your mind? I’m thinking mostly of how this applies to your own blog and own writing, but if you apply similar criteria to stuff you read on other places, I’d like to hear about it to. Post a comment, or write something up on your own blog and link here, so I’ll see it.
If you’re like me, it might be an unexpectedly revealing bit of self-assessment.
(Crossposted on the Intel Software Network blog.)