Image courtesy of Cox & Forkum
These tips might help us generate blog posts after organizing, participating in, and/or attending a conference, vigil, panel, speech, talk, rally, or any other progressive social change event. Some of these ideas might also apply to help us think about how to write blog posts in response to non-progressive events as well, and to web sites, articles, or when reading, listening to, or viewing a work of nonfiction or art. We can blog about decisions in our lives, blog about what we're reading and writing, and the art we're experiencing and creating, both online and off. Let's blog about how we're struggling to make a better world, and how we might, together, change it.
These tips are a work in progress. I generated the first version of these when I was about to attend the first U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta and wanted to write some criteria for myself about the kinds of blog posts I wanted to write. I then shared that version with other people from AFSC interested in blogging that conference, and they gave me feedback about how to improve upon them. (The results of some of our blogging from that conference can still be read.) I'd like to hear your ideas for how to improve upon these tips further.
1) Blog about the actions you take and the ideas that emerge from them. What decisions did you make? Blogging about decision points makes for dramatic reading. What were others with you doing? What were the responses? Upon reflection, how do you feel about what happened? What might we learn from your experiences? Review actions and/or presentations as if you were a constructive book or movie critic. How could it be improved? If you're blogging a protest, blog about the most rhythmic chants, the clever posters, and the most effective leaflets. Or blog about chants you refused to chant, posters you found offensive, and the aspects of speeches with which you disagreed.
2) Share perceptions of what you see, hear, observe, and feel (but avoid telling people how to feel themselves or assuming that everyone would feel the same).
3) Include images. Take and share photos. Credit the source of graphics. As long as your blog is nonprofit, you can use Creative Commons-licensed images.
4) Blog about issues you know a lot about. Share your expertise, critiques, and constructive feedback.
5) Blog about new information you're just learning - chances are, many others don't know, either. Blog about what you learned. Blog about creative innovations.
6) Blog what was said that interests you - concisely. Most people don't want to read a blog entry recapitulating an entire speech. Summarize, share good lines, write about ideas you think are thought provoking, informative, and important for more people to contemplate. If you're blogging about a long article or book, blog about the best lines and the most important insights - and where the work could have been improved.
7) If you hadn't been able to attend this event, experience this artwork, or read this work, what would you most want someone to be blogging about for you? Blog about that.
8) Blog your impressions and your opinions. Only you can write this blog entry. Write your personality in to your post. Share reflections on relevant personal experiences.
9) What are people excited about? What are people talking about in the halls or at the vigil? You know how the most pungent commentary on an event often comes from the smokers gathered outside? Bring that irreverant commentary to your blog post - without contributing to corporate cancer promoters.
10) Blog your genuine questions, and blog your tentative answers. "If this is true, I wonder if we could...?" "Which organizations are working on this?" Questions can motivate people to comment. If it's an event where questions are taken, blog the questions you would have asked if there were time. Blog about the answers given. Blog about your answer to a question someone else asked.
11) Include quotations from other attendees. Quote folks, especially folks you find interesting, as journalists do. Ask, "What idea are you most excited about taking back home with you?" "What has upset you most about this conference/protest/rally/panel so far?" "What organizing approach or idea has inspired you?" But you can blog perfectly well without interviewing anyone, too. It's up to you.
12) Blog the controversies. What are people disagreeing about? What are the difficult issues which people are grappling with? Write honestly and compassionately about a range of opinions, and vigorously and assertively share and explain your point of view.
13) Blog about dilemmas that you face. Chances are, others are struggling with some of the same issues. Blog about what you are struggling to understand, struggling to do, struggling to say, and struggling to do better. Write about your own mistakes and what you've learned from them.
14) Blog about what you agree with and deserves more attention -- and blog when you disagree. When disagreeing, argue against a hypothesis, claim, assumption, purported fact, idea, perspective, and/or ideology, without attacking individuals or groups.
15) Provide documentation to points you make with external and internal links - links to info about things you discuss, speakers, links to organizations, links to related blog entries of yours, link to related blog entries on your blog site, links to effective writers/bloggers writing about this topic, links to reference info, links to provide historical and political context, etc. If it’s not a media giant, ask for a link back from the places to which you link.
16) Be specific. Instead of, "I met many interesting people. It was fantastic!" try something like, "I met person x who developed this particular model for organizing against domestic violence which they are now trying to replicate nationwide." Instead of, "I attended the plenary, and then went to some workshops." try, "I agreed with the plenary speaker, Movement Bigwig1, when they said that in order to end the war, we need to sit-in at every Congressional office in the country, and keep sitting in every month, and then every week, until they defund the war. But when Bigwig1 said that we just haven't been effective so far, I strongly disagree. As I learned at MovingWorkshop2...."
17) Add to and amplify missing voices. Increase the diversity of the conversation both ideologically (e.g. how would this look from a pacifist perspective?) and demographically (e.g. how might a proposal affect various people with disabilities?). If you think, "I wish person x was the one on stage right now," then ask person x what they would have said if they were on stage, and then blog about that. You can ask someone at the conference, or contact a source and say, “I just heard StageSpeaker1 say blanketyblank. What’s your take on that?” You provide the stage. (Person x might be you.)
18) Blog the historical, global, and artistic connections. How might this idea be scaled up to replicate and multiply its impact? What precedents or parallels might shed light? Blog the theoretical and philosophical implications. What might we learn for other contexts and situations from these events? Blog about the connections with literary and artistic works.
19) Blog emphatically and empathetically. Express feelings strongly, coherently, and compasssionately. Blog critically of actions and ideas while being gentle and generous with individuals. Engage in conflict in order to blog towards mutual understanding and comprehensive justice. As in a mediation session, the issue is not who's right, it is what's right.
20) Blog about what we as readers can do to address, resolve, change, transform, or at least ameliorate problems that are addressed. There was a bumpersticker afixed to the wall of the Peacework Magazine office with a Quaker saying, "What are Thee Doing About It?" Answer that question, and also, "What Might We Do About It?" Where can we learn more? Which organizations are doing good work? Where can we write and call to protest? What petition can we sign? Where can we donate time, resources, and money? What artwork might we create? How might we change our behavior? What future event and/or demonstration might we attend? What policies might we advocate? What strategy might we pursue? How might we educate and agitate more people? How could we organize? How could we resist effectively? What organizations could we transform? What organizations might we create?
Other articles with advice for effective blogging: "7 Habits of Highly Effective Blogs," "23 Rules of Thumb for Effective Blogging," and "Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post." I don't agree with all the tips (only 3-4 sentences per paragraph is a bit draconian, IMO), but I hope they are nourishing food for thought.