This post is one of the last pieces that form part of Blog Secret Santa 2013. Meghan H wrote a gift post, but due to either naughtiness or forgetfulness, didn’t receive a gift from their nominated giver. Instead, here’s an elf looking back at what happened. All the posts from the whole project, including one by Meghan, are listed on Santa’s blog roll.
In the aftermath of 2013’s Blog Secret Santa fun, I’ve been reading through all the posts – as I write, 36 are online – and picking out a few themes to talk about. For this post I decided to look at the sorts of facts that interest content strategists. What are the basic truths that we work from when we blog?
I’m looking for rock-solid, undeniable facts. Capital-T Truth. The stuff that you need to agree on before a debate begins. You know the saying about how people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their owns facts? Yeah, that’s the stuff I’m looking for.
It’s not pretty, people. If our Secret Santa posts are anything to go by, we’re not really into facts at all. If anything, we avoid them.
But it ain’t all bad. Here’s a nice meaty one, with a reference.
Society saves seven dollars for each dollar spent on early education, or so the United Way has told us. (From A too-serious post on ROI)
Actually, maybe that’s a bit debatable. The United Way has a barrow to push when it comes to education, and the ROI of schools isn’t really the easiest thing to put a number on. But it’s a start. Let’s move on to On giving:
There’s a psychological explanation for our profound connection to giving. Research has found that not only has generosity fared well in our evolution because, “at the ultimate level, it is a high-return cooperative strategy,” but that giving may actually be at the heart of what makes us human and an essential ingredient to our happiness.
Research! Science! Yes! Sort of! That phrase “may actually” is a bit of a bet-hedger. Still, this is pretty facty.
In truth, though, there was only one gift post with a very solid basis in verifiable, solid fact. As a professional community, it ought to worry us that it wasn’t written by a content strategist. We might also want to judge the quality and importance of the facts, but frankly we probably haven’t earned that right. Here’s
Lady Gaga’s Art Pop was released November 6. Its first single, “Applause” was released this summer, the same time as Katy Perry’sPrism and Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz. The sales have been considered a flop.
Dudes, that’s it. Just 3 posts out of 36 start with a fact. The others worked off:
- Generalisations, like “the technologies we work with just keep changing.”
- Recommendations, like these “ideas that would make good conferences great”.
- Personal reflections: “I got to thinking, how will I make 2014 my best year yet?”
- Opinion, and there were almost too many examples to choose from here. (“Content Management (CM) is a misnomer outside the world of content management”)
- Advice, both general (“If you work for a Serious Company that makes Things That Can Kill People, you should probably take your content and your content strategy quite seriously”) and personal (“James from Seattle, Washington, USA I have one itsy bitsy tiny request from you…BLOG MORE!”)
- Dreams (of a white Portland, for example)
- Admissions and confessions, which I’ve blogged about in another of these “hey, sorry you didn’t get a blog post, so here’s a blog post” blog posts, which I can’t link to yet.
- Rhetorical questions, like “Do you know why civilizations build such pretty libraries?”
- Against the usual way these things work, answers to rhetorical questions. As above:“Because most of the books inside are boring.”
- Metaphors (including “I always say that launching a website is like having a baby”, and the quite wonderful, “‘And’ is clearly the ninja of words.”)
- Complex theories, such as this one: “
Theory: Digital content relevance works like typical human psychology
- Quotes. I’m not going to quote an example of a quote, because that would be a bit weird, and I’m kind of stressing about how the punctuation would work out. But if you want to see one for yourself, here you go.
- Explanations of the things we’re finding difficult to deal with – “here in Brazil we don’t have so many content strategists and not so many information in Portuguese.”
- Personal stories with great opening lines like “I recently took a trip to the emergency room.”
- Creative stories with great opening lines like “It was a Friday. 3pm. Grey, rain hanging from the clouds. You get the picture. I’m sitting at the desk when this dame walks in, name of Santa.”
We’re very good at writing about ourselves, and at story-telling. We’re great with advice. We’re always ready to help with a case study or a model of how things often work. Give us a definitional argument and we’ll jump right in. Examples and metaphors are tasty things, too. We can use those to make our opinions sound bigger than they really are. But facts? Verifiable, solid truths? For some reason, they’re not for us. Maybe we’re too busy building our own orthodoxy to assess it too closely.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking*. You’re thinking something like, “Shut up, Elf, this is blogging. It’s about the personal stuff and the little things and the stories we want to tell. Take your sciencey, journalistic crap elsewhere.”
And that’s a fair point, if you can prove it.
So, anyway, maybe 2014 can be our year of getting our facts straight. If we know what we agree on, and we can back those things up, the disagreements will be more fun. At least, that’s my opinion. See what I did there?
Merry belated Christmas, everyone!
*This sentence is not a fact