Lazy Writing

Brandee via Flickr

Photo credit: Brandee via Flickr

I recently launched Sidebar, a new project (more about that another day). Sidebar simply gives you the 5 best design links of the day. So as part of the curation process, I get to see a lot of design-related content.

And reading all this content, I can’t help but see a trend: lazy writing.

What do I mean by this? I mean blog posts that do not require their author to do any research, talk to anybody, or (god forbid) leave their chair (kinda like the post you’re reading right now, in fact!).

Low-Calorie Blogging

You probably come across these articles every day. They feel right, but you don’t actually gain any knowledge from reading them. They’re basically the blogging equivalent of talking about the weather around the water cooler.

I’m not saying there’s no place for light, fluffy content. After all I’m not above writing an opinion piece or 10 myself. But we might be taking things too far: lately I feel like I can spend the whole day reading, yet not have learned a single new thing.

If at least these pieces were fun to read, that’d be something. But the rules of social media mean that everybody has to be nice all the time. So nobody wants to actually have an opinion or take the risk of being funny, lest they be misinterpreted and lose precious followers.

The Missing Links

Also, remember those things called “links” we used to have? Those things that were the foundation of the Internet? Whatever happened to them?

These days, linking to whatever you’re talking about takes too much work. Imagine that, having to actually find at least one specific example to back up your point! (note: this is the part where I would link to an article that doesn’t contain any links, but I don’t want to single out anybody… so just browse through Svbtle).

Good Writing Should Be Work

So instead of producing page after page of bland content, I wish more bloggers tried things like:

  • Show, don’t tell: Don’t just tell me what you think about app design, but also show me what you did about it.
  • Be an expert: Tell me what makes you an expert. What are your credentials? Why should I care what you have to say?
  • Speak from experience: And even if you’re not an expert, I’d rather hear about your personal experience than your personal theories.
  • Do something: I know this will sound crazy, but have you thought about actually doing something and then blogging about it?
  • Provide examples: If you can back your opinion up with hard data, now we’re talking. And if you can’t come up with stats, at least include some examples that illustrate what you’re talking about! I know, taking, cropping, and uploading screenshots is a pain in the ass… so just stop being so lazy!
  • Give actionable advice: We get it, you’re smart and know a lot about design. But so what? How does that impact my life? So how about providing actionable next steps so that reader can take action?
  • Have an opinion: if you can’t do any of that, at least don’t just write for writing’s sake. Stand for something! Who cares if you’re wrong, at least it’ll move the conversation in a new direction.

While this post is admittedly not informative by any means, I hope that by embracing that last rule I will at least help generate new ideas (or maybe just get flamed…).

Discuss/upvote on Hacker News.

P.S. As it turns out, it’s surprisingly easy to find pictures of cats sleeping at a computer.

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