Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Same Ol' Stuff

I saw a Facebook post the other day that struck me funny and I don’t mean laugh out loud funny (though most people who claim to laugh out loud really don’t) but funny in an odd sort of way. It wasn’t particularly interesting, but an author mentioned something she was doing to prepare for a class she was teaching on blogging. The thing that struck me funny was that here we are and pretty much all of us are blogging. If we aren’t it is because we don’t want to. There have been many people who have taught classes on blogging and there is a ton of information on the Internet about blogging. Do we really need another class on blogging?

As I thought about it, I thought about all of the stuff that is out there, not just classes about blogging. Look at the classes they teach at writer’s conferences and I get the same feeling that I’ve seen this all before. Visit agents’ blogs and so much of what they say is the same stuff over and over. One agent may say it slightly different than another, but it’s the same stuff. And I’ve looked at the stuff people are saying about developing websites and website design and it is pretty much all the same stuff.

I’m beginning to realize that the reason so many communicators are forgettable is because they say nothing worth remembering. If you go to a conference and hear someone talk about blogging and I go to another conference to hear someone talk about blogging, it isn’t likely that we will remember what each other said about our particular experience. If we do remember, we aren’t likely to seek out that speaker because we already know what was said.

So much emphasis is put on the skill of the writer. That is important, but skill is of little help if the writer has nothing to say. So many people are just rehashing the same old stuff. There may be thousands of unpublished authors out there, but I believe there is room for those authors who can tell us something that other people aren’t. So tell me something I haven’t heard.


arlee bird said...

I think I understand what you're saying, but keep in mind you're speaking from the mind of someone who already knows. If we look at all the books that continuously come out on craft, like writing, or textbooks on the same subjects like math or history, we have to remember there is continually a new audience who doesn't know what's being discussed. The conference workshop for you may be the same old rehashing, but new info to the uninitiated.

I know very little about blogging in many respects, but I'm very advanced for a brand new blogger, especially one who is not particularly computer savvy. I've helped so many new bloggers now that I've thought about writing a book about the topic, but whatever I would have to impart would be rehashing to you. It depends on what information you need and if it's presented creatively.

Did I read you correctly or did I misunderstand?

Tossing It Out

Timothy Fish said...


You are correct in many respects. There are always some people who are looking to get started at whatever it is we're teaching. We aren't going to leaven 2 + 2 = 4 out of the child's text book just because his parents already know that. But my point isn't that so much as that there is a level of cultural awareness of things. Lightswitches for example aren't usually sold with instruction manuals. The assumption is that the person who doesn't know how to use or install one has such a large number of people who can tell him that the manual isn't needed. If you happen to be one of the people who can tell someone how to install a lightswitch, you don't stant out because there are millions like you. You could certainly write a book about blogging. I could write a book about blogging. Many of the people reading this blog could write a book about blogging. But unless there is something that makes one of those books stand out, we would all be wasting our time. There are many books on blogging already out there. With so many people rehashing the same old subjects, not one of those people have an opportunity to make a name for themselves that will sell a significant number of books.

arlee bird said...

However, couldn't you say this same thing about 99% of the books that are written, non-fiction and fiction alike. There are really not that many new ideas, but most any writer likes to think they are saying it in a new way or reaching out to a segment of an audience that is being courted by many other authors purveying similar information.

Writers, speakers, teachers, etc. are all rehashers in a sense. If a lot of conferences have different speakers talking about the same stuff it is because it's what's in demand. You might go to a how to blog session and analyze the presentation or see if anything really new is presented, or you might choose to get up and walk out because you already know what's being presented, but perhaps the information is new to several attendees.

Teachers always will have new students and new textbooks and some of the teachers and teaching materials will be better than others. We who know the information already probably will not have any need to keep on hearing aobut the same information. But there will always be providers as long as the markets continue to exist. And I do think the possibility is always there that one of these providers will present a product that feels so fresh or has been marketed so effectively that the product (book) can sell in significant numbers. Probably not about blogging, but even there anything is possible.

arlee bird said...

Incidentally, Timothy, I don't know if you look at many other blogs enough to be aware of some of the networking games that are played, but one of my readers has "tagged" me with a game that has been circulating the blogs. I'm playing along and thought I'd pass this your way in case you wanted to play this social interaction activity. Find this at:

Tossing It Out.