Wednesday, January 23

Outdoor Blog: State Of The Nation 1 (Is the wind changing?)

The arrival of the New Year seems to have brought with it the scent of a freshening breeze gently blowing amongst the ranks of the regular UK Outdoor Blogging fraternity.

This zephyr has always been there, moving quietly amongst the grass in the distance. Occasionally felt in a few remote corners. But recently I've started to feel that balmy breeze moving closer in accompaniment of this journey as we walkabout together (a pun - geddit? Oh well never mind. Tee Hee).

There are a few signs which may indicate a maturing in the method and content provided within the UK Outdoor Blog community.

Last year saw a large increase of Blogs in this genre. Without getting too scientific over the last 12-18 months I'd estimate that there's been a rise from around 5 offerings to the current 45-50+. And that's just the UK based blogs.

Many still remain, with most very active. But all are a little wiser, more aware of their particular message and its delivery. And as a result of trial and error all are at least a little better at what they deliver. Some radically so.

Lately it seems to me that the outdoor blog as a method of widespread communication may be starting to diverge from the themes and method of delivery offered by the traditional outdoor media both print and on-line.

For a blog can choose to specialise, or not, on whim. No consumer or advertiser to consider. Just you, Joe Reader, and what you gain from what you read.

Commercial considerations for say a monthly magazine, must establish a broad readership, within an already small niche outdoor interests market. To ensure income and stay in business. Whilst blogs share similar elements at times, the breadth of content can be considerably more focused if necessary.

Early days, so I may be very wrong. But I'd rather offer you the opportunity to decide for yourself before I continue. So without meaning to name, shame (or exclude anyone in particular) here's a personal taste of what I mean:

Alan Sloman in Health & Efficiency takes a simple 'I'm getting fit' comment and turns it into a humorous and entertaining read that left me hoping for more of the same finely judged whimsy.

Weird Darren in Run Chicken Run picks a recently aired topic that we have all been exposed to in some way via TV/newspapers. Then he reflects on it in a way that adds something to the subject from an outdoor user's perspective.

Solitary Walker's Death In The Afternoon describes a recent trip abroad, but brings it to life with a taste of walking alongside him as he travels and looks around.

Andy Howell in More On The World of Retail takes his earlier aside on Snowdonia outdoor shopping, considers a variety of feedback, and then uses it to provide a deeper look at the way the outdoor industry is changing from the stance of its most important part. Us the Customer.

I'll rest awhile with these more immediate examples, pulled from a number of possibilities.

Do you agree with me ...... or perhaps not? Either way feel free to leave you views via the comments or e-mail (on my profile) if you're a little shy.

More on this to follow presently ..............

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Looking forward to the next part, as usual a quality peice from you John.

PS Not just saying that because I got a mention. ;-)
Hi John

Interesting that - I was thinking along the same lines... (Small ones seldom differ? No - surely not!)

Thanks for the heads up on the Solitary Walker's piece - he had dropped off my radar somehow and had never made it onto my 'Great Places to Visit' list - which will now be rectified.
Thanks both for the feedback. Glad to see its not just me following this track (and I sort of thought you might have already got it Alan)

Keep it coming folks.......
I think that's an important part played by the human element in these social networking sites - building connections between information nodes, or neural pathways of the network. Computers can process data, but it takes humans to bring diverse strands of information together.

Whichever part of the social networking system people use, blogs, wikis, forums, virtual reality, etc, so long as the information relationships are being forged, broken apart and reforged, people gain something from it.
I couldn't agree more Duncan - without the human element we might as well just have a series of automated post/answer 'bots
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