Am I the Only Person Agreeing with Jakob Nielsen?

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Key statements from that Jakob Nielsen article that need to be considered before opposing or agreeing with the message within:

"… I recommended that he should instead invest his time in writing thorough articles that he published on a regular schedule."

Which basically constitutes exactly what everyone is doing on their ‘web logs’. But read the WHOLE paragraph. Don’t go nutzoid over this, just read it.

"Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they’re definitely easy to write."

I think we can all agree on that. Even Molly.

"But it’s reasonable to assume that posting quality is more variable than expertise for several reasons:
• Sometimes people toss off a posting in a minute. Other times they spend hours.
• Sometimes a writer happens to know a lot about the topic at hand, possibly because they’ve just spent several months working on that exact problem. Other times people know nothing — which doesn’t keep them from voicing their opinions :-)
• Sometimes people are lucky and get a blinding insight. Other times they post more out of duty than anything else

Wow. Mr Nielsen also uses smiley-faces / emoticons to express himself. Interesting turn of events. Who doesn’t see the hidden message in that smiley face?

But the more important question here: Which of us can say they are the foremost authority in their field and they have no competitors at all. How many are not writing the same junk, riding the same web-junket, or junking the next and last writer? I know I have written many a post that took less than a few minutes – and very few that took an hour or more. I’ve written posts that will NEVER make it online because of who they speak, of the emotions they brought up and the language inappropriate. Sometimes we write simply to vent, not to post online.

"Don’t contribute to information pollution by posting material that isn’t above the average of other people’s writings."

Which I interpret to say that he doesn’t suggest you cannot write blog articles, but that you should at the very least try to write more than your readers expect. Each and every time.

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"It’s almost impossible to fight the Internet: you’re up against millions of people who are willing to work for free."

Don’t we know it! (…?) Just a little statement proving that Jakob is fully aware that even he is fighting an uphill battle to stay an important face in the evolution of the internet. Many readers and writers don’t know who he is, yet freely handout so-called expert advice that JK would surely have written about years ago!

"You should also focus on material that lower-ranked content contributors can’t easily create in their spare time."

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s almost impossible to find a subject that hasn’t been covered a hundred times already or isn’t in the middle of a web-2.0 transition. But it’s even more difficult to find a subject that is written concisely, carefully and constructively. Few topics have the in-depth details that are required for journalistic or reference use. Wikipedia is one good example, … “There is no editor, no army of proof readers and fact checkers; in fact, no full-time staff at all. It is, in other words, about as far from the traditional idea of an encyclopedia as you can get.”

"In-depth content provides more value in less time than numerous superficial postings."

Whilst I agree, there is a fault with this statement: Most people cannot read passed the 3rd line of any paragraph without glazing over. Eyes sag, brains mash, jaws drop, yawns unfold. We all know it. Humans have reached the point where they want information NOW, RIGHT NOW.

Attention spans shorter than a space-bar. Interest wanes at the site of a ‘therefore’ or ‘thus’. So we make shorter sentences, almost prose or lyrical, to capture the readers skimming the content. Whilst still trying to push the valued content, the in depth story, the statistical data, we twist the words to say less with more, more with less, more or less.

So Jakob’s post / article is valid: Long articles will only capture our interest when broken with imagery, new-paragraphs and highlighted text. Was their really anything else in the article that we REALLY had to read or know – or hadn’t been said somewhere else?