The skills of the fleetingly famous

In Web writing on September 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

After reading about the success of Dijana’s blog on the WordPress Freshly Pressed page, I thought that I’d check out some of the other blogs there and, in the style of myself, pick some out and analyse why they may have attracted WordPress’s attention.

Hey, read this thing I read! And watch this thing I watched!

I was attracted immediately to the most ironic of the new Freshly Pressed posts: Hey, read this thing I read! And watch this thing I watched! by Madame Librarian. Through the words of novelist Jonathon Franzen, Mme Librarian reflects on the shallowness of social networking as a way of connecting with our true selves, and resolves to heed said novelist’s words. With its conversational style, pop-philosophy/psychology, and wry, apposite and bizarre YouTube clip, this contribution ticks the boxes of a readable blog post. One thing I do wonder, though, is why it elicited as many as 47 comments.  Sure, it’s good to show your appreciation, but weren’t these people listening to what she had to say?

Image courtesy

Thunderstorms over Kansas City

I surprised myself by dipping into Thunderstorms over Kansas City next. Many of the Freshly Pressed blogs are cleverly assembled photo galleries, and this one’s no exception: written by a pilot/amateur photographer, it’s the sort of stuff you expect to find on the Web – that is, something you never knew you’d be interested in until now, in this case pictures of thunderstorms taken from the cockpit, and a first-hand account of how pilots manage poor weather conditions. Right, that’s it – next time I’m going to do a photo blog! (I’d be doing well to take better photos than pilot-blogger, though – check out his flickr gallery.)

Deathwatch of Our Daily Print

Next up, Deathwatch of Our Daily Print. Despite its catchy title, I must say I had trouble getting through this blog the first time. I’ve read many such articles, and was skimming for new news, so to speak. It seems I have no taste for anything even slightly redolent of redundancy any more, even when it’s well-expressed.

So, why has this blog succeeded? Well, here is MHO. For a start, the theme is highly topical (the death of print, and the paths journalists and photographers have to take to ensure their livings in the increasingly digitised publishing scene), and the blogger, ‘kkuukka’ has taken a highly personal approach to it. But perhaps more importantly, kkuukka seems to really listen to his audience. Many commenters are clearly in the industry, and contributed long, thoughtful responses – and kkuukka has responded in kind.

It’s interesting to note that he has also stopped short of saying everything he can on this topic. How can journalists and photographers keep ‘ahead of the curve’? He doesn’t say, but his ideas come out in the ensuing conversation. The now-familiar contention that newspapers are on their way out also draws a lot of comments, none of which, however, are snarky.

Kkuukka has clearly cultivated an atmosphere of measured, intelligent discussion on his blog – and also an atmosphere of inclusiveness (he’s Finnish, but writes in English and invites comments in a range of languages). In addition, he’s been smart enough to include a teaser about his next blog, on the iPad.

This blog is a sharp contrast to Sunday’s blog, with its brevity, and Monday’s blog, with its reliance on description and imagery: it’s fascinating to see just how many different approaches can work.

Now, stay tuned for my next post: the photo extravaganza!


  1. Jen –

    thank you for taking time to read and analyze my writing. Honestly appreciate it. Made me feel strange, however, in a good way: here we are, literally opposite sides of the globe; you are a student (you mention it in your “about”), I teach in the university. You take the time and effort reading my babling; analyze and give me feedback… World – and not just the media -is changing a lot – and is this case, definitely for the better.
    Once, or twice when I have totally succeeded with my students (i.e. I have felt we have together experienced something special), they have done the same – more often; nothing, zip, zero… so I take your commentary as a great compliment.

    All the best.


    (aka kkuukka)

    • Hi Kari,

      My pleasure – and I hope you’ll forgive my initial reluctance to read your blog and about the death of print. I’m in book publishing, so there’s always an element of trepidation in reading about this phenomenon (though I know you were referring to newspapers).



  2. It’s so strange as I actually remember that blog headline so vividly ‘Hey read this thing i read…’ it just shows what a good headline can do. Whenever I log in, I glance at the freshly pressed for a second so for me to remember this headline speaks volumes, for want of a better word, of this genius headline. I wonder whether you think that being memorable also means sensationalistic. I am torn between being myself (not assertive in my opinions, more balanced in my views) and being someone a little more ‘colourful’ in the digital world. I find there are a lot of people who do well based on the fact that they are opinionated such as Clem Bastow and Lou Sanz. I may not agree with their views but they are certainly people you remember!

    • Hey Lieu,

      Thanks for your comment. Yeah, it is a great headline. In answer to your question, I don’t think it’s necessary to be sensationalistic to be memorable on the Web – I think irreverence and yes, being outspoken are more important. Sensationalism, I think, belongs more to tabloid magazines, newspapers and Today Tonight. Netizens, IMHO, tend to be a bit too cynical to be swayed by sensationalism – they are more likely to be put off by it.

      I agree with you about feeling the pressure to be more colourful online, though. To be honest, I never feel I’m cool enough to have much of an impact online, and that my efforts to be hip are doomed to failure. In the last sentence, for example, I’m sure I could have used much more contemporary adjectives than ‘cool’ and ‘hip’. Oh well. I think there are plenty of people just being themselves on the Web and being content with having just a few followers, but as publishing students we probably want to make a bit more of an impact.

      All the same, like sensationalism, perhaps being brashly outspoken, effortlessly funky and up-to-the-minute will become passe after a while, and we’ll all revert back to our true selves.

      What do you think?


  3. Woah, Kari responded in less than 15 minutes! Now that’s someone who’s really into his blog.

    I like the idea of giving a teaser for next week’s topic. If only I could think that far ahead. I tend to start on a topic, then get bored with it, and end up writing on something else.

    As for being colourful, I agree with Lieu in that it can detract credibility from the site if the headlines are too sensationalist. Clarity and headlines that properly define what the post it about are better.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty impressive (the speed of Kari’s response, that is).

      I find I too have failed in my quest to match promised result (as named in my own teaser) to actual result – see tomorrow’s post.

  4. […] on September 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm I’VE decided to renege on my promise of a photo extravaganza (see last week’s post), because something more intriguing – and pertinent to the theme of this blog – has caught my […]

  5. […] of being “fleetingly famous”  – as one journalism student in Australia referred to it in her very insightful commentary – is the amount of discussion and contacts it generates. Quite a lot of them are shown below […]

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