It has been almost three months since I have started this Technical Communication blog. I have been wondering what exactly I am supposed to write here, thinking while writing all along. I would like to take a moment of reflection through having a small Q&A session with myself. To view the evolution of this blog from the visual design point of view, see this entry.
Each question starts with: “Does each of my blog entries…“
Has interesting title which attracts readers?
I don’t think so. For most of the entries, titles are something that is slapped at the very beginning of the drafting process. And I admit it is the most inappropriate time to name an article – the first rule of blogging is to name the title at the end. The second rule of blogging is to name the title at the END.
I checked the title of this entry, “Reflections on my growth as a blogger” which was of course there from the beginning. Not particularly interesting, but should be fine for readers looking for a lifehack-type entries.
Follows standards of professional English?
Being a technical writer with four years of experience under my belt, I proudly answer: I have been doing what I could do ( = No. Obviously). The built-in spell checker in Blogger has been my single best ally (and archenemy) so far. I haven’t paid enough attention to the rewriting/editing process, which is supposed to be the real writing stage following the brainstorming stage under the name of first drafting.
Addresses all the criteria of the given topic?
Again, no. I tend to focus on the subject which interests me most, not paying enough attention to the criteria outside that narrow scope. I have found that I can be focused when the topic is presented beforehand in small chunks (like in this entry). Probably from now on, I should list all the criteria beforehand and make them as a list or subheadings.
Incorporates hyperlinks to additional sources appropriately?
Finally a question that I can answer yes came in. I believe I have kept a reasonable record of incorporating hyperlinks for both related entries in this blog and web pages in general. I think I can site additional sources more often than I had done, not to make my entries more “authentic” (though I cannot deny it) but to force myself to learn more about the topic by looking for those information.
Uses images appropriately to illustrate and add visual design appeal?
The design appeal…I haven’t paid much attention to this area. As previously mentioned, much of my design work consisted of selecting different template for the blog and embedding images and videos in the entries. Advanced visual editing such as adding visual elements and modifying CSS was nonexistent.
Does visual design matters for a blog which is supposed to be the outlet for my voice? Absolutely yes. A blog is the place to express my whole self, not just texts; ignoring visual aspects of it is like walking blindsighted.
Gives consideration to the (copy)rights attached to any images used?
For this blog, I have been careful not to violate any terms of usage for copyrighted images. I used my own images (photos and screen snapshots) whenever possible, and for copyrighted photos I always mentioned clearly where they were from. For my other (casual) blog, not so much…
Shows evidence of my application of information learned from my readings?
My answer to this question is similar to that for the “criteria” question above; yes, for subjects I was interested in. I am not sure if I should show my application of information which I did not digest enough. While organizing and writing entries this blog belongs to me; however, once an entry is published, it belongs to the readers. I think I can safely omit half-baked applications from the final draft.
Includes references (via quotes or hyperlinks) to additional information?
Yes, I have tried to include quotes whenever I found a good passage. Hyperlinks are better for leading the readers to explore other materials on his own, but if it is appropriate to stay him attached to this blog or to point out the most important part in the additional information, quotes have worked better. No I didn’t use quotes to jack up the amount of texts. At least not all the time.
Includes original thought?
This is the area where I aspired to be good, if not great. I have always tried to find my own point of view for a given topic and express it clearly and succintly. But I must admit that probably the person who most benefited from this attitude is myself. By following the weak but almost tangible thread of thinking, I have understood far more about my thinking and interest than I had expected. Adding another layer of self-knowledge has an addictive effect.
Writing is almost equal to (self) discovery and this blog has taught me more about that simple truth than my other blog, probably because I had to write longer and more in-depth articles. Pushing myself to think hard was painful at times, but the result was well worth it. A blog, especially a technical blog like this one, is always a part of the author’s portfolio not because the blog teaches the readers about specific subjects but because the blog reveals who the author is.
One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk at Brazen Careerist says blogging is one of the most important tool one can master as a professional. I wholeheartedly agree.