Short blog posts are cheese burgers

There’s some commonly accepted wisdom that good blog posts should be short and give you something to think about. The theory is that people are time poor, and we need to pass out wisdom in handy bite-sized chunks so that it’s easy consume. (This is the same attitude that puts bullet point take-aways at the top of an article, presumably so that you don’t need to read it.)

I’m increasingly having problems with this approach, as it seems more likely to create the McDonald’s Cheese Burger of wisdom than the insight we were actually hoping for. Rather than sharing insight, they’re more like a low cost product of predictable quality that producers find easy to churn out at great volume.

Super-size me?

Super-size me?

Take this post for example (I’ll quote the entire post, as it’s only a few lines).

(And don’t imagine I’m calling out Seth here, as there’s nothing particularly special about the post other than being a good example of the sort of short thing that seems to be becoming endemic across the blog sphere.)

Why jazz is more interesting than bowling by Seth Godin

Bowling is all about one number: the final score. And great bowlers come whisker-close to hitting the perfect score regularly. Not enough dimensions for me to be fascinated by, and few people pay money to attend bowling matches.

Jazz is practiced over a thousand or perhaps a million dimensions. It’s non-linear and non-predictable, and most of all, it’s never perfect.

And yet…

when we get to work, most of us choose to bowl.

A bit like Gary Numan in the 70s, this seems wise at first glance, but when you take a second look you discover that there’s not much under the surface.

So what if Jazz is more interesting than bowling? The reality of business is that most of us are paid to bowl (with our KPIs tied to our bowling score), and Jazz is reserved for senior management. Or, out another way, most of use in business are road crew, and only a few lucky people are the Jazz musicians. And let’s not get started on the hedgehog and fox debate, which has already been done to death. (Jim Collins is obviously a bowling man.)

Many short blog posts are like that McDonald’s Cheese Burger: it can satisfy an immediate craving, but you’re left with a greasy feeling the following day. You might think it tastes good, but too many of them and you’ll need to loosen your pants to accommodate that intellectual waistline.

I say bring on the longer, thoughtful posts and give those rich and interesting ideas room to breath. A slow food movement for interesting ideas. There is a role for the short, to the point, blog post, but let’s not pretend that rich and valuable ideas can be crammed into this format. And remember what happened to Morgan Spurlock on that all hamburger diet.

Posted under: Media

One comment

  • Adam Deane on 2010-09-24 at 8:06 pm said:

    A blog post should be interesting. Period.

    You can try to teach – but people don’t like to be taught.
    You can try to share wisdom – but people seldom learn.
    You can invest time and effort – but people will read it just as fast.
    Funny, witty, smart, amusing, different, informative – a bit of each is best.
    People react differently to different writing techniques.
    Your post, for example, made me hungry…

    http://adamdeane.wordpress.com

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