On blogging: The newspaper is your friend

I wrote nine blog posts on Monday, November 6th (I’m starting this just before the end of the day so I’m counting it even though the posted date may show upas November 7th).

That’s a lot of posts for one day. I wrote the first just after midnight last night. All the rest were written after I read this morning’s edition of my local paper, The New York Times. The articles I read inspired several of the posts, or had a role in others. Let me explain.

A musical magic moment

Apology accepted

In Memory of Academician A. P. Ershov

This post about Andre Ershov was not directly inspired by the Times, but by an e-mail that came my way. However, I’ve been thinking for some time about writing some posts about my travels to Russian. I started thinking of doing this after reading a Tom Friedman column a few weeks back that had “Russia and China” in its title. I had planned to write a post on that, but there was lots of ground to cover, so I put it off. But that e-mail made me think about this a bit more, and I realized I could wrote a short post just about him. If I ever get around to finishing the “Russia/China” post then I may include part of this post in that.

Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, 98, Author of Childhood Memoir

I wouldn’t have written this post except that Ernistine’s father was Frank Gilbreth, and I realized this would provide a way to finish some unfinished business. I had written two posts about three software development models — DUD, RERO, BLOAT — but the first two appeared in an article about golf, as an aside. I’ve looking for a way to define all three models in a single post so I could talk about them in future posts and refer back to the defining post and so not have to refer back to an article about golf.

So I used Gilbreth as a lead to finish the business. Having the post based on the story about Ernestine gave the post a timely appearance when in fact that was not the case. It also provided a way to lead into the story, something much better than “Here is the post the pulls out two ideas I wrote in a post about golf.”

On designing software: DUD, RERO and BLOAT

On Journalism: Blogging, open-source, the internet, John von Neumann

I’d been meaning to write this post ever since I heard Professor Goldman talk, as I think this is a very important talk. But seeing two articles in the Business section that directly related to open-source made me realize — as I did in writing the Gilbreth post — that using those articles as leads could give the post a feeling of immediacy, that the post had been inspired by today’s news.


On Blogging: Wikipedia is your friend

I had written so many posts recently that I have been think it would be useful to point out the utility. I did this today because I realized that if used the title “… wikipedia is your friend” then I could use the same title for “…newspaper is your friend.”

The newspaper can be a rich source of ideas for writing a blog post. Current events are obvious, and many bloggers just focus on them. They are usually the ones with a political ax to grind. However, a current event may suggest a way — as I hope I demonstrated above — to relate an area of great interest to you to that event, and so draw the reader’s attention.

I’ve taken inspiration for posts from every section of the paper: News, Local news, Arts, Opinion, Sports, and even Obituaries.

I mentioned once to my wife that I was writing a blog post about someone who had just died and she said that sounded a bit morbid. She could have put it another way, but that just gave me the title for a post, and so I’ll write a post on blogging based on obituaries.

Postscript added on 7 Nov 2006:

I forget to mention in the original post that I noticed a single word in an article in that issue of the New York Times that caused me to write the footnote that can now be found at the bottom of the page: A. J. Liebling

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