© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense
Since we started this blog in April of 2008, numerous readers have asked us about the blogging experience, and how they might start their own blogs. It took us almost two years to actually do so, and we regret not having done so earlier.
A blog opens up a whole new world to you, and allows interaction with folks all over the world, about all sorts of subjects. The blogosphere is truly a global virtual community.
(For those interested, a major blogging convention is scheduled for Greensboro, NC on Thursday and Friday, October 16 and 17, 2008 (http://convergesouth.com.) On Saturday, October 18, 2008 BlogHer (http://www.blogher.com), a community for women who blog, visits the city as part of its traveling tour.)
We’re going to provide you with an opportunity to post an article or articles on our blog, as Guest Authors, consistent with the goals and principles of the Institute for Applied Common Sense.
There is no need to repeat our philosophy here; it appears stated in the right column of the blog. However, before getting to the Guest Author opportunity, we thought that we should share with you a profile of our readership.
There are many widgets and tracking devices which can be installed on a blog, to provide information about the visiting traffic. We are particularly enthralled with http://www.sitemeter.com . Even their free service provides valuable information, as will be reflected below.
The vast majority of the readers of this blog appear to be non-bloggers. We frequently receive direct e-mails containing comments as opposed to comments on the blog. Roughly 15-20% of the readers are located in countries outside of the United States. We have regular readers from Australia, Finland, France, the Palestinian Territories in Gaza, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Jordan, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.
Thus far, we can not recall any readers from China. Far more newcomers (individuals not associated with any of the members of the “It’s Your Turn™” Team) read our blog than friends of the “It’s Your Turn™” Team. The newcomers also have a tendency to read more articles and to stay on the blog reading them longer.
It appears that most of our foreign readers live in smaller cities, and we have noticed that they spend more time reading more articles than any other group.
We employ the “next blog” button feature of the Navigation Bar at the top of our blog to “blog surf” and visit other blogs. The vast majority of the other blogs which we visit are based in Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and Brazil. We are actually surprised at the large number of Brazilian blogs.
Most blogs are uniquely personal. A large number display photos taken by the blogger, chronicle the lives and experiences of children or newlyweds, or display the artistic work of artists of every imaginable variety. We tend to randomly surf to other blogs and when we find one of interest, we stop and comment.
Although we are sure that there are many blogs dealing with political or societal issues, we rarely run across them. (That may be explained by the fact that we use Google’s free blogging platform, http://www.blooger.com, and those interested in professional blogging tend to buy other software for blogging.)
We joined a number of Google Groups (or discussion groups), most with some type of political theme. The bulk of our traffic is referred to us through Google Groups, following our leaving comments on the group discussion boards. We stumble through blogs written in French, Portuguese, and Spanish, and leave comments using a combination of English and our broken language in question. Most interestingly, it is the Brazilians who most frequently respond.
The readers who consider the articles, or the ideas expressed in them, to be radical or dangerous are generally Americans. We never sense any reluctance to go to another place intellectually on the part of our foreign visitors.
We have no real sense of the age demographic of our readers. We suspect that we have far more women readers than men, based on the comments.
In the U.S., our readers have a tendency to be from the West Coast, Southwest, and the Eastern Seaboard. Mid-Western readers hail from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In the South, we get visitors from Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia; there are virtually no readers from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Tennessee. There are also very few readers from the Rocky Mountain States and the Plains States.
Our blog informs readers that the “It’s Your Turn™"Team will soon embark on a nationwide tour of college campuses to engage students in a conversation about personal responsibility and making difficult decisions. In response thereto, we have received numerous comments which generally might fall into two categories: (a) those which inquire as to where we were when they were in college; and (b) to inform them when the tour is scheduled to be in their vicinity.
The blog has evolved over time. It morphed from simply posing rhetorical questions in admittedly lengthy essays. It went through a period when we suggested theoretical constructs which might be utilized to analyze certain situations. Our original goal, which remains today, was to simply get people to think and avoid rushing to judgments and decisions.
One of our favorite stories revolves around Senator Barry Goldwater, the ultimate conservative. Just prior to his death, he was asked to identify one thing he appreciated as a senior citizen, which he did not appreciate in his youth. He replied that in his youth, he thought there were only two sides to every issue. In hindsight, he understood that there were at least three.
Our view is that there are at least 27 different ways to view everything. Not all of them are good, productive, or positive at any given particular time, and their importance definitely changes depending on the context or circumstances. However, we should be aware of them.
Another goal of this blog has always been to encourage people to “dig deeper” in trying to understand the underlying causes of problems, instead of being distracted by the superficial, and typically emotional, symptoms.
If at times you’ve been confused about the purpose and focus of this blog, you are pretty perceptive. We essentially conducted a virtual focus group during the first few months of the blog’s existence. We’re still experimenting with different approaches.
Amazingly, we have not received one, single, nasty, off the chart, emotional rant, and for that we modestly take some credit. It was not our intention to get folks worked up, but rather to get them to say, “Hmm, let me think about that.” The most frequent comment which we received was, “I hadn’t thought or looked at it that way.” We view getting folks to pause during the thought process as a good thing.
We mentioned earlier that we are inviting our readers to serve as Guest Authors. We have a few guidelines to ensure that we maintain the spirit of the blog. We’re interested in civilized, respectful discourse, between participants with open minds. We believe that reasonable people can differ about how to approach a problem. Please observe the following guidelines:
1. Please limit your article to 750 words maximum;
2. Discuss any issue in the news or societal issue that you desire;
3. Avoid just criticizing or taking a side, and instead think in terms of suggesting a solution to the issue, or at a minimum offer some reasoned alternatives;
4. Try to be as objective as possible and set aside your personal biases;
5. Pose rhetorical questions to challenge the reader to consider various options, and innovative ways to analyze the issue;
6. Avoid the use of invective and judgmental statements, which might prompt emotional responses;
7. Avoid taking sides, or the positions of the liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, etc. Your piece should cause all sides to ponder; and
8. Be sure to “dig deeper” to reach the underlying causes.
Send your articles to RDGreene27401@gmail.com with an urgent flag. As long as they are generated in good faith and generally within our guidelines, they will be published “as is,” without further editing. Be sure to tell your friends and contacts to read your articles once they are published. This should be fun.
© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense