Thursday, January 24

Outdoor Blog: State Of The Nation 2 (Are we nearly there yet?)

Welcome back (and if that has confused you please take a peek at the previous post)

Perhaps it's my own bent of mind to periodically reflect on what I get from doing this. Balancing the time it takes against my other life interests.

After all once a blogging discipline is established it's not that hard to regularly post. And the pundits all agree regular posting is a MUST if you, the reader, is to be enticed to return for more. Blogs that post erratically or have large gaps in updates, eventually lose the reader's interest.

For there is little more irritating than to find an excellent site, but full of out-dated information. Unless of course the information is of a durable form, usually reference related. For instance if Wainwright was today putting his sublime Lake District hill guidess on the web it would have value far beyond the day he finally said - 'Job's dun'. All in a suitable green font of course.

Quite right too - and there are several of those outdoor sites around to store for when those outdoor questions need to be answered. Some of which appear in the LISTS, PHOTOS & INFORMATION SOURCES on this page.

But for the more usual blog (i.e. not professional/ commercial) posts cover a variety of approaches dependant on time, interest, and availability of ideas/sources. And then there's money & contacts, which can really help boost interest and content, but also result in conflicts of interest which require careful judgement.

However most of the Bloggers links listed on the top right hand of this page are providing their articles as an AMATEUR. Let's not forget that key point.

As such we're normally not directly involved with the outdoor industry, except as a consumer/user of gear.

That's right - similar to you really. Slightly more inquisitive perhaps, but definitely more prepared to talk about it out loud. That's the case for me entrenched here in the deep south of the UK, where my own physical contact with like minded enthusiasts is extremely limited, especially in this particular outdoor niche for D-I-Y wildcamping.

As a result these bloggers tend to reflect the thoughts, opinions and ideas of those around us similarly interested in backpacking, wildcamping and walking.

And there in lies our real value.

We have no commercial agenda to be wary of. We report on issues that interest us, matters hopefully worthy of your attention. Things we believe that you, the reader, may be similarly interested. To join in with our joint enjoyment of outdoor matters.

So some blogs take the form of a daily diary/jottings. Some more gear review orientated (nearly all at their own cost BTW) Some walk/route based. Some using photo/video instead of text. But most will use a mix of all these as the writer's interest is captured by events and themes as seen from their perspective.

One main theme runs through. All writers try to remain entertaining and informative. A basic but of common sense if the blog is to remain viable.

But here lies the devil's distraction.

It is all too easy to post an inane article, due to a lack of time, ideas or just laziness (that's inane as in 'Why did I write that rubbish that's not what I set out to do with this blogging lark') Or perhaps there's times when we can be just rather crap. Hey ho. As in life there's good days. And bad.

The golden rule 'If you've nothing to say, say nothing' is simple to remember, but a curse to follow. There are far too many opt-outs where self-censorship of content is concerned, especially when author & editor are the same with no contrary opinion at hand. What seems like a good idea/great piece one day can appear as pitiful scribble on re-reading months later. Or even worse, it may come across as crass and insulting.

But it is all too easy to get writer's block, or fall back on reportage based on other web media items or comments. And the easier option can be simple to justify, especially for those whose writing/communication skills are not so readily to hand.

Each to their own of course. And for the record let me say here that there is absolutely no intention to criticise any blogger brave enough to put their thoughts into the public domain. To freely and repeatedly give of their own time and resources to deliver content to their readers, on their own terms.

Some are already delivering to a theme and level that they find acceptable. As is right and proper for their wishes.

Others meanwhile continue to tussle with where all this blogy stuff is going for each of us either personally or as a group of like-minded individuals with shared passions. To work on how to improve what is provided. Perhaps to better understand where it may go in future. Either at our own personal whim. Or even representative of a much broader and developing social trend.

So to what end all this? What is sweat and tears likely achieve? Or is it just a sort of supreme ego trip; a newer form of public self-abuse.

Enough for the present, more to follow...

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you swine, another great piece ;-)
Interesting topic, John. I tussle all the time about how personal to be, how much to include, how not to be boring. Yes, it's self-censorship in the end, to be sure. Oneself as editor is not necessarily the best editor. But, as you hint, that's not the point. In the end, I don't actually worry over much - I write what I want to write. What pleases me. And what hopefully may please a few others too. This is DIFFERENT from other media - and has its own particular, peculiar advantages, unique features and pleasures.
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