One pattern I see repeated in the patterns of new bloggers (and this is aimed at my new batch of ds106 students is that they typically write posts with really general or lackluster titles. “Assignment 1” “My Introduction” “Week 1” “Daily Create #345”.
It’s not their fault, this is a new space. As students, they are responding as conditioned to writing up assignments, and thus use school language. They have not yet likely grasped the ownership of their own web publication space.
I have written before (and will be linking again) to You Fooled Me at The Title, What Magicians Know. But your title is actually, IMHO, one of the most important parts of your blog post- it is what people will see in a link or a syndication feed. It is the first thing a reader usually sees when they land. Take advantage of that!
My advice is to take advantage, and put some effort into being either a little more unique or descriptive. For example, one of this past week’s tasks was to write up a blog post about their first assignment Daily Create, to do a video telling stories about things on their key chains (which by the way was a smashing success with 48 entries, sadly, nothing like a grade to motivate people).
Maybe it’s just me, but the title is important, so consider it a box you type in, but also a place to play with words, bend metaphors, ect:
Of course the big box you type in while blogging, is where you compose. Your style here will evolve over time, but some things I like to see are:
- The Media in the Page. This means put your media right in the web page, do not link to your own works. You want readers to stay here. You want to use your text to set up the video/audio, the serve it, then follow up. Write with media, make it part of the narrative flow, do not just dump it in the post.
- Create Space. We will learn more in Design about use of space, but do you see that big fat key on the lower right of your keyboard labeled RETURN (or maybe ENTER). Use paragraphs to create a sense of rhythm in your writing, as well as a way of conveying relationships. Few things ar ehard to comprehend a single giant paragraph.
- LINK LINK LINK You know why they call this a web? Have you seen those things on web pages here you click on text and you go elsewhere? Always be thinking about connecting what you are writing; if you are referring to an assignment for this class, or a book, or a movie, or a YouTube video, or a strange technical word, link to it.
This is not just because I am saying so; think about if you stumbled across your blog post, does it stand on its own? If you are referring to the video by Robert Hughes, how will a reader understand what you are referring to without a link?
- Create Context In a simliar vain, write with a purpose of providing context and connection to your ideas. If you just say “This is my Daily Create” – if your Aunt Bertha finds your blog post, will she know what that means? The link is one form of context, but also is writing about it- when doing assignments, provide a little bit of information about it (even if you copy/paste it, use the blockquote button in your editor).
- Find a Voice Do not write like you filling a blue book essay or knocking off a check list; your blog is a place for you to express yourself, and there is no English Teacher With a Red Pen hovering over head. Make mistakes. Use faulty grammar. That’s not as quite important as how you say and express your ideas. You might want to be playful, or develop a persona (like being a dog). This too will evolve, but do not write in such dry, third person, passive voice gack that goes into a lot of term papers.
Another place we have seen UMW students go crazy is playing with the tags you add to your posts. They can be purely descriptive as an organizer, but we see people even communicating through tags, playing with meaning there. Tags, of course, are optional, but consider that box too as a place to be creative.
Remember, you are writing the web. Every time you see a box to put your own ideas in- think about owing it, subverting it, projecting through it. Carpe Diem.
Of course this is my own opinion on this. It is a wide spectrum on how people use their blogs, and there might eb a really good reason for writing Dry Titles. Please let me know.