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Blog Archetypes: The Notebook

March 7, 2010

Blogs come in many different flavours

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I want to start a blog” you may have also thought about what kind of blogger you wanted to be. A few days ago I read a great essay about different blogger archetypes (you have to scroll down a while), and it inspired me to look through the blogs I read and try to find distinct blog archetypes. Since this is a deep well of a subject, I’ve decided to split it up and cover one archetype per post until I run out.

Skier Warning Sign

Sorry, your blog isn't a unique snowflake

First up: the notebook

A lot of bloggers depend heavily on personal anecdotes to introduce articles or ideas. One such blog is Lexington’s notebook (the inspiration for the name of the category). Since this blog actually rotates authors depending on who is the current Lexington column, the blogging style will be feel a bit different if you happen to read far back enough.

First, here are a few examples of posts and why they fit into the notebook archetype:

The view from a Wal-Mart parking lot: As the title suggests, the post focuses on views from people presumably interviewed outside of a Wal-Mart (in Forrest City, Arkansas). The post continues to look, in a broader way, at how President Obama’s governing is affecting conservative democratic districts. The usefulness of this kind of introduction versus, say, quoting an article from a newspaper about conservative democrats is that this is more eye-catching. I’m more willing to read a bit of story at the beginning of a post than one that dives straight into quoting other reporting.

Is a tap on the shoulder a violent crime: The personal element of this story is minute, but important. It introduces the scene in a way that more impersonal writers can’t compare with. (As I write this, I wonder why I don’t try to write noteb00k-style, as I find it more and more interesting doing this research.) To delve into journalism cliches, starting the post with “I” gives the post immediacy. Something is happening and now I and other readers are curious as to what that might be.

Notebooks aren’t quotebooks

For a comparison, here are some columns from the old Lexington blogger, whose writing relied more on quotations and straight-on descriptions: Cornstock lives, Two nations, The issue of issue. I don’t think this style is as interesting. In the most unscientific of explanations, I read much more of the new Lexington’s posts than the old ones and I attribute it the change in writing styles.

What archetype is your blog? What archetype is my blog, for that matter? Stay tuned for the next installment.

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