Thursday, March 16, 2006

Rhetoric of blogs

You know, it's hard to find good stuff on the internet that talks intelligently about rhetorical features of blogs. There's a lot of bare bones prescriptive stuff that ultimately isn't very useful.

Today in my blogging class, I want to talk about "arrangment," and to think about design/arrangement as part of a blog's "voice." Actually, one member of the class speaks to this in a recent post:

I think people look before they read, so it's actually more a function of personal or intriguing design that stops a surfer at your page. It also doesn't hurt if they can see immediately that you post regularly. I do think that occurs to new visitors before they read a whole post--they just scan the dates of your posts on your front page looking for size and number.

Yes, exactly. That's what Malcolm Gladwell in Blink calls "rapid cognition":

[It's]the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. . . . "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

So the difficult task is to stop and think about those two seconds: how can we talk usefully about what happens in the first two seconds someone looks at our blog? How can we, further, talk about the way design keeps a person coming back to a blog?

It moves to a different level, I think, when we talk about design and the factor of return. One thing that keeps me a frequent visitor to blogs is the surprise factor: I know that all of the posts won't be the same ol' same ol'. Not that every day the blogger has to reinvent herself. It's just that it's nice to have some texture. (Ah, yes. Texture.)

So one thing I asked the class to read for today is the Silva Rhetoricae page on figures of order. I'm curious to think about how we might riff with some of those figures to create entries that play around with order in interesting and unique ways.

So maybe I'll do an experimental entry later that plays off a figure.


xhalabar said...

I haven't been so good about doing this myself lately, but I think pictures are always a good choice when it comes to grabbing attention. This may seem obvious or unimaginitive, but if someone sees you've got a picture at the top, then they scroll down and see that you've got a different picture with each entry, they'll come back again, thinking, "Hey. I wonder what picture there is this time." You've always got to be on the look out for cool pictures though.

KR said...

Thanks for the nod!