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People Don’t Think Online

How many times do you go online and think, “I’m going to use the internet to change the world today.”

If you thought zero, don’t beat yourself up too much.

People don’t go online to think.  People go online for two things, information and entertainment.  Entertainment is pretty self explanatory.  It’s how we end up with David after Dentist.

By information, I don’t mean well thought out positions.  I mean the raw facts and data to solve an asnwer quickly.  It’s why Wikipedia and IMDB are popular.  They answer questions instantaneously and decisively.  They settle arguments and meaningless questions.  They don’t make you answer something deeper than “Who played Jason in Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan” (Answer: Kane Hodder)

If people wanted to think deeply on the internet, we wouldn’t have such things as trolls and flame wars.  People don’t have nuanced discussions online.  We’d rather share pictures of lolcats and retweet funny hashtags.

This is probably you need some rudimentary social media or content strategy.  If not to figure out how to engage users, but how to beat an idea into their head so throughly they actually begin to think about it beyond the level of skimming.

Figure out how to get people obsessed with one idea, one concept, and one method of thinking. Then you can get them to think deeply beyond the four sentences in your writing they actually read in your whole blog post.

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Want to be a Great Blogger? Start Reading.

For every great blog post I read, I see at least ten terrible ones that could have been awesome.  The people who write these posts sit down and write without regard to the actual language they are writing in.  I don’t mean they start writing in English and it turns out to be German by the end of the article, but rather they don’t consider the nuances and construction of the writing in a way that will make the writing work.

Looking at it this way: if you want to be great blogger, you need to know all about it.  And because blogging is a form of writing, you need to become a master at writing.  The easiest way to do this is to start reading everything you can.

Everyone I know who is a great writer and thinker is also a great reader.  They consume lots of information from a variety of sources to supplement their thinking.  They have a burning desire to know more.  They go Fahrenheit 451 with that desire and fuel it with books, articles, blog posts, and whatever else they can get their greedy hands on.

The more you read, the more you understand writing.  If you’re reading all the time and looking at the words, sentences and paragraphs through a writers eyes, you tune into how the language works together as a whole.  You’ll start asking questions about the writing

  • “How does this article work to support its thesis?”
  • “This was a good point, why does this argument fall flat?”
  • “Does that first sentence and paragraph draw readers in?”

Those questions may sound a bit like elementary school, but many writers hear this advice from grade school onward and never take it seriously.  Find the articles, books, and blog posts you love and look at them as a writer.  Deconstruct the language and the grammar.  What makes them work?

When you begin reading with a writer’s eye, your writing will begin to transform and improve.  Go read through this post again.  Find what works, what sucks, and what could be salvaged.  Learn to read like a writer, and your writing will pay off immediately.

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