Bridgette Engeler Newbury reviews the logic and philosophy of blogging in this blog post for our Emerging Fellows program. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.
This isn’t some existential analysis of foresight and futures work, but a simpler question about value, purpose, intention and utility. Some pretty basic research (there is a methodology if you want it) suggests most blogs are written to raise profile, to drive traffic to a website, to build an email list, to share information, an opinion or thoughts on a subject, and/or to sell books. So leaving aside that last point, I ask myself after just over one year as an Emerging Fellow, are we doing any or all of that? And does it matter?
Two decades or so in, blogging (still) has its challenges. People have been writing about themselves and things they find interesting but it’s easier for some than others. Sharing opinions and thoughts isn’t for everyone. And we don’t have to blog. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we do.
Maybe it’s because not everyone has something to write about and share. Maybe we do, but can’t write about it. Maybe what we write isn’t getting us the sign-ups/comments/views/likes/website hits… Then later, maybe we run out of topics, ideas and clever headlines. And maybe we wonder if it’s worth all the time we spend on it.
Why would a futurist blog? Why would we share what we have to say? Would it make futures work interesting and digestible? Are we doing it to get noticed? To be read and understood? And why would we assume that others value what we have to say?
To connect with people. If our long-term goal is to build a community involved or interested in futures thinking, a blog might kick off two-way communication with people who will spread the word.
To be better communicators. Writing and honing a blog and consistently delivering (good) content is a great way to practice craft, discipline, voice and style. It’s almost inevitable that your writing will improve over time. And your ability to distil complex ideas into small sound bites.
To form relationships. There’s a community out there who want to read, learn from and challenge our ideas. People who can help us find our way. Let’s find them and have a conversation.
To find our feet. A blog can be fertile ground for idea exploration and expression.
To get noticed. Apparently a goal (or two) of every blog is to generate content that becomes a book that you then sell. Maybe not exactly true for APF, but we could suggest that our blog generates content good enough to prompt visitors to come back regularly, subscribe to our other social media outlets and perhaps other futures blogs and media. Our blog can get readers, colleagues and peers, and anyone else who may be able to offer support, discussion and/or opportunity.
So are we doing any of this? And how well are we doing it? Are we creating interesting, useful and challenging content that has value, purpose and utility? Blogs are not intrusive. No one has to respond. Reading is voluntary, and done when convenient. So who decides if we are making it worthwhile?