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The power of blogs to tell our stories

How would you describe ‘blogging’ to someone who didn’t know anything about it?  Liz Strauss has set a challenge to come up with metaphors for blogs and blogging that will help communicate what it’s all about.  I’m a big fan of metaphors so I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  There are already some intriguing submissions coming in that you can check out here.

Stumped for a witty and colourful metaphor like the salad bar or the smorgasbord I decided to answer the underlying question instead: how to describe blogging to someone who knew nothing about it?

For me, the easiest answer is that it’s like telling a story, reflecting some of the practices that you see in the tradition of oral narrative.  Here’s how:

A blog is multi-layered and multi-storied.  There’s a top layer - the most recent post - but the story runs through the veins of everything that’s been written before, and is still to be written.

There’s a lasting value. The words that have gone before don’t disappear, they remain a permanent resource for your regular readers, casual visitors or indeed yourself, the writer and storyteller.

The story shapes the teller. Blog writers learn - about their business strategy, about themselves, through the process of writing the blog.  It helps you articulate what you know.

Blog writing gives you power over your story. You can change, develop and update it every day - your words, your story.  (Who wants to be dependent on a web designer or external copywriter to define who you are?)

You don’t need to be a great writer to tell a story. You don’t have to be a literary genius or a world expert on your subject to write a blog.  You do need to be willing to share something of yourself, to be open, to be real, to share a part of your story.

It’s personal and human. The authentic voice of the writer, the storyteller, shines through.  (And if you’re not being authentic, your readers will know.)

Other voices shape the story. A blog evolves and changes over time, not least because of the contribution of your readers and listeners.

A blog is a place to go and listen, and learn.  Some of the best blogs create a sense of ‘place’ and ‘community’, somewhere you can drop by for some ideas, conversation, to take some time out.  A place to enjoy the crack.  A modern day ceilidh house perhaps?

The stories connect.  Good blog writers reach out, make connections, learn from, inspire and inform each other.  It’s a way of exchanging cultures, ideas, words, possibilities.  Each story shifts and changes when it connects with another.  That’s what thickens the story (and is an essential part of the experience of being human)

The story lies in our hands. Writing is one of the most powerful tools that we have.  Blogging creates the opportunity to write, to make connections, to reclaim some power over the public discourse, to tell a different story.

As Ben Okri said, a people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick.  But stories can also conquer fear.  They can make the heart larger.

The story of how we learn to use this power is one that is still to be told.

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Comments

  1. Mike Sansone says:

    A wonderful story (and metaphor). Each new post is a new page (figuratively and literally, hmm?).

    Multiple lessons here (and compounded hunger - the first thing I thought when reading “multi-layered” was cake:-)

  2. Liz Strauss says:

    This is a classic post on storytelling. I so enjoyed reading it. I’m reminded of my days in the classroom and the great stories that small children tell. They’re so marvelous.

    Thank you for that and thank you for featuring the metaphor project. It’s turning out to be such fun!

  3. brad shorr says:

    Excellent metaphor! You really zero-in on the personal qualities of blogs that make them such a uniquely interactive and effective form of business communication. Like a great story, your post is well worth reading.

  4. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Thanks all for the feedback. It is proving fun trying to find metaphors for the interactive nature of blogs - hats off to Liz for giving us this opportunity.

    Joanna