Close
Close

How to Eliminate the Echo Chamber and Add New Dimensions to Your Blog

Echo-ChamberOne of the better posts I’ve seen recently is by Chris Pirillo writing about ways to eliminate the ‘echo chamber’. It’s a post that I’m sure many bloggers will find a challenge (I know I did). Here are his main points (in bold) with a few comments of my own (the non bolded stuff) on some of them. I’m not sure I’d be quite as extreme as Chris suggests – but there’s food for thought in the list and I suspect that enacting some of his suggestions from would add new dimensions to a blog (and maybe even help a little with the echo chamber thing too):

1. Don’t live inside your news aggregator

I was actually thinking to myself yesterday that my news aggregator has become way too central in my blogging. While I love the way it helps me to keep my finger on the pulse of many aspects of life I do worry from time to time that it has the potential to suck the creativity out of me as a blogger as it’s very easy to use it as a lead generating machine and allow it to determine much of what you post on your blogs.

2. Say something original at least once a day

– One of the results of living in your news aggregator is that it’s easy to get lazy and to recycle news and ideas from others – at the expense of exercising your own brain power and developing some original ideas of your own. I’ve got nothing against bouncing off others ideas (I’m doing it now) but starting conversations rather than just responding to others or reporting on the conversations that others start can lead bloggers into a fairly one dimensional type of blogging.

3. If warranted, quote an “unknown” source

Chris is spot on with this. It’s easy to only read the A-lister and use them as the source of a story, but the fact is that there are many other talented bloggers who are saying similar things that also deserve attention. This is of course a challenge (as are all other 9 points) as it can be difficult to find the quality ‘unknown source’ partly because no one is linking to them (hence they are unknown). I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes it takes a little work to find them – but it’s worth it when you do.

4. Don’t link to the same site more than once every two weeks

I’m not sure I’d put a time limit on it but the principle behind this is a strong one. I hesitate to say this (for looking arrogant and not wanting to offend) but I’ve come across a number of blogs in the last year that link to ProBlogger in almost every post. It’s almost like reading ProBlogger itself they refer to it so much. Now – I’m very grateful for the links and am flattered by it (truly I am) but I also feel like saying to these bloggers (and sometimes I have) that perhaps it would be good to not only respond to what I write but to find some other sources for stories also. If their readers just wanted to read ProBlogger stories they’d subscribe to ProBlogger. I know it’s easy to fall into this trap at times (to different extents) as sometimes it’s just easier to always bounce off the one blogger with whom you resonate with – but in doing so you’re also likely to be creating a somewhat empty blog.

5. Wait a week before publishing your thoughts on hot topics

It’s always a challenge to know how to write on a topic that everyone else is writing on. On the one hand unless you’re the one breaking the news your post can on it does have the ‘me to’ feel to it – but on the other hand you feel that if you don’t write something about it some of your readers might miss the story and you’ll end up getting email after email telling you you’ve missed it. Chris suggests that one way to combat this is to wait a week before posting. I think this is one good option as it gives you a chance to not only report a story but add your thoughts (which have had a week to mater) to it and make the post more than just a news report.

6. Create, don’t regurgitate

Lots of blogs report on the cool things that others are doing in their niche but sometimes it’s nice to be the one doing the cool thing in your niche.

7. Think twice before using buzzwords

Every niche has its jargon and buzzwords but I’m constantly reminded (by emails from readers asking me to explain what I mean when I use them) that quite often the people who read blogs and the people who write them live in different worlds. Lots of people accuse the Web 2.0 niche of this but I’d argue that every niche has its buzzwords that you should think twice about using.

8. Make yourself uncomfortable

I’ve long been a believer in this. It’s often not until you’re out of your comfort zone that you’re able to grow. It’s a principle of life and one of blogging also – too many of us are way to comfortable in our blogging (PS: perhaps this is what Chris was thinking about when he did this – by the way – not for the easily offended).

9. Stop whining (or worrying) about what list you’re on (or not on)

I wonder who he was thinking of when he wrote this point. I can think of a few bloggers that I might send it to who seem obsessed with their blog’s rankings in different indexes. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with have a well ranked or highly regarded blog, there’s more to life and I suspect the people who are concerned with them could be a lot more highly ranked if they actually stopped focussing on them and started blogging with creativity, originality and passion.

10. Stop saying we need to get out of the echo chamber

Hmmm – a nice challenge to end on – although… “The day for blogging about blogging, and podcasting about podcasting, is long gone.” OUCH! :-)

Here is one more of my own that came to mind while I read Chris’s list:

11. Look outside the Blogosphere

As long as we, as bloggers, continue to look at each other for inspiration, ideas and creativity we will limit ourselves. Read books, see movies, buy the newspaper, take a class or… if you’re really game… talk to a friend. All of these things (and many others) help ensure we ‘get a life’ and will help us to take our blogging to a new fresh level.

Chris makes some great points (some of which I went against in writing this very post). While I love blogging and the blogosphere – I do sometimes wonder if we’ve created our own little universe (language, rhythms, rules, culture etc). While it’s wonderful it can also be quite insular and self important. Like Chris acknowledges in his post – it’s not easy to get out of the patterns we (as a blogosphere but also as individuals within it) have gotten into. Hopefully some of what’s above reminds us to step back from it all occasionally and ask some good questions about what we’re becoming.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. truongn2 says:

    The Seattle Times reported that Microsoft does have plans for publisher to put adCenter on their websites.

  2. #9 hit home for me. Since my site is new, one of the things I have been focused on is getting my site up in the search engine indexes and getting on a few lists related to my niche.

    However, I am realizing that if I just focus on trying to create quality, unique content then the rest should fall into place naturally.

  3. wendy says:

    Great post Darren, a few years ago on my original blog I could post topics where the original inspiration was the current topic on an email list. Now if I do that I end up being one of a hundreds blogs opining on the topic du jour. Now I read discussion groups and blogs *after* I’ve done some writing first, if I have to go back to add more information, at least I’m doing it to my original post and just chewing up what someone else has spit out.

  4. Funny, I’ve been saying many of these things for a while now. It’s good to see Chris (one of the real originals) pushing these points, not to mention Mr Problogger.

    Hmm… maybe Mr Promagaziner would be a better title :-)

  5. katiebird says:

    This comment started to be a point-by-point reply to each element — they’re all so applicable to things I’ve thought about and worried over and changed.

    The one about ‘make yourself uncomfortable’ might just get a certain draft-post finished. I’ve been working on it off and on for a month, but the subject is so intimate and personal I can’t quite make myself finish. Even though (to encourage me) one of my sisters says that it’s a subject that a lot of people are obsessed with.

    And several months ago I found myself linking to a friends blog two days in a row & I deliberately stopped and thought — this should be a comment on her blog, not a whole post.here.

    I’m stopping right here — but I’ll be going back to the original source. This really got me thinking. Thanks!

  6. I couldn’t agree with these ideas more. I’ve tried to create a balance of important links to material and news in my regional blog that most readers probably haven’t seen AND a good dose of original writing – which always draws a bigger crowd. The fact is, people can already go a million places for most the news and commentary found on the majority of blogs out there. As a reader, I want to read things I haven’t before, not just some bloggers ideas about the same old news everyone else is writing about.

    One example: this week we had a tragic bus accident that claimed five lives. I wrote about other tragedies in my area (the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York) over the past couple hundred years that have been forgotten but where just as dramatic.

  7. Yvonne says:

    I’ve come across a number of blogs in the last year that link to ProBlogger in almost every post.

    Tsk – that hardly comes off as arrogant. Though I wonder how someone would expect to gain a following by scraping off larger blogs. Not to mention Digg, and del.icio.us …

  8. Rico says:

    Uhhh… thanks for searing my eyes with that picture of Chris Darren. X-|

  9. Igor M. says:

    Great suggestions for any blogger. I actually found few problems spots on my blog after reading this post.

    Thanks.

  10. #9 was my favorite as well. I post regularly at several message boards, and the hottest blogging threads always have something to do with ranking (Technorati, Socialmeter, etc.). While it’s great to be aware of where you rank the scheme of things, it’s incredibly easy to let the numbers warp your conception of success…

  11. I don’t really agree with #5. I think I speak for much of the blog-reading public when I say that I reply on the newspaper (and/or TV) for news, and refer to blogs for opinion and discussion. One week later, almost every spin has already been spun, and posting is just an exercise in vanity and SEO.

  12. mark evans says:

    darren,
    good post. i think there is a growing sentiment that the whole meme thing has gotten out of hand. memes are a double-edge sword: by jumping on the bandwagon, you become part of hot conversations and, hopefully, get some more attention from people interested in those stories. at the same time, however, you get away from your own creativity. in the last little while, i’ve been making a concious effort not to talk about what everyone else is talking about – and been pleasantly surprised by the response i’ve been getting to my off-the-mainstream posts.

    mark

  13. Charlie says:

    These are all good points, and I really like the “stop worrying about your blog” one.

    Is it possible to be too invested in your blog? I don’t know, but some blogs sure read like the author is trying to get picked up by BoingBoing or Slashdot. It’s an interesting phenomenon to try to spot. I call it “content weighting,” as do some SEO guys out there. The writing starts to become stilted and awkward and sort of…fluffy, I guess.

    When I happen across a blog with good content and writing that sounds natural, I’m pretty much hooked just on those two points alone.

  14. Vince Chan says:

    Funny, when I was reading this post.. I sort of heard a faint “echo”. What do you think?

  15. Darren Rowse says:

    for sure Vince – thats why I wrote that I’d broken some of them in the last paragraph. Definately a challenge for us all.

  16. Vince Chan says:

    I don’t know if anybody’s noticed that, but everybody reporting on Chris Pirillo are doing exactly what he’s stating in the post. I just thought there’s a sweet irony with this meme.

    The easiest way you can spot an echo is to look for the words “so and so has a nice post about something something”

    1. They’re definitely living within their news agrregator
    2. They’re not saying something original. (it’s really not! it’s merely their own spin on something existent)
    3. Most of the the time, they’re quoting/mentioning someone famouse like Chris (at least he is now!)
    4. Though they don’t necessary link to the same sites all the time, one can play six degrees of blog linking and come back to the same site again!
    5. Waiting a week won’t get you links, nor will you get your readers respect, they’ll just say, oh… you’re so lame, Chris was last week’s news!
    6. Don’t regurgitate? Need I say more?
    7. Buzzwords? I saw blogosphere, echo chamber, advice .. the list goes on
    8. I seldom find people will be uncomfortable. Look at all those trackbacks on problogger!
    9. Lists are so yesterday, wait.. blog about that! And make it into a list if you can!
    10. Yah, stop saying we need to get out. After all, we want your audience to be my audience.

  17. Darren Rowse says:

    As I say Vince – it’s an echo filled post and I broke his rules.

    I guess I’d add though that while it’s got some great points – its not completely practical to follow them all all the time.

    For example in linking to known sources – I agree we need to look for unknown sources etc – but sometimes known ones are known because they write good stuff. I link to people who have something worth saying whether they are known or not. I do like to look out for unknown bloggers and link to them but I’m not going to resist linking to known bloggers who have written something good just because people already know them (way to many knowns and unknowns in this paragraph).

    I’m sure bloggers could well argue against most of his other points also as not all of them will fit with all blogs topics/style/voice etc.

    I take your point that there’s irony in this – but I guess in most of what he’s written I’d aruge for balance. None of what he’s written would be something I’d force on another blogger or myself (and I don’t think Chris would either) – all of his points are useful points to consider and might help bloggers balance their blogging a little.

  18. I feel like I fall into the “quality unknown source” category, so feel free to quote me from time to time ;)

  19. Scott Allen says:

    On the flip side, Darren, there’s something to be said for participating in the echo chamber, I think. My coauthor and I have practiced I’d say 10 out of 11 of your suggestions here for a long time. We have a good steady readership, and I’m “proud” of the site.

    But it has consequences. Now I’m not whining :-), but we don’t get asked to speak at all the big conferences, appear on TV, etc., and we rarely get linked to by the “A list” bloggers. And I’m 98% certain that it has nothing to do with our content and more about not being in the echo chamber as much as we “should” — or at least as much as we would need to be to maintain a higher level of visibility with that crowd.

    Being overly transparent today :-),

    - Scott -

  20. Kim says:

    I am new to the whole bloggin (is that like frickin?) thing, a week now, and already I know I need to get out more, am feeling pasty white, and am sure I need a Visine for Red Eye….if that tells you anything.

    But

    1) I am fairly sure it is Thursday and
    2) Apparently I still haven’t claimed my blog on technorati (whatever that means) and
    3) News does travel fast
    4) For such a big, wide and varied space, the world gets very small very quickly
    5) People, regardless of whether it is an echo or not, have good things to say
    6) People, regadless of whether it is an echo or not, have good things to say
    7) Blogging is addicitve
    8) Never mind, this one wasn’t important
    9) I do essays, not lists, for good reason, but have lots of visuals
    and
    10) Hopefully the fact that I am somewhat new to the blogosphere helps. What do you think?

  21. Lucia says:

    1) I am fairly sure it is Thursday and
    The time stamp says Friday.

    2) Apparently I still haven’t claimed my blog on technorati (whatever that means) and
    Not that important.

    3) News does travel fast
    Yep.

    4) For such a big, wide and varied space, the world gets very small very quickly
    It’s pretty big. People just settle into niches and forget about the rest of the world.

    5) People, regardless of whether it is an echo or not, have good things to say
    And bad things, and silly things.

    6) People, regadless of whether it is an echo or not, have good things to say
    Some say the same thing over and over.

    7) Blogging is addicitve
    Absolutely.

    8) Never mind, this one wasn’t important
    It probably wasn’t. But on a blog you’ll get more traffic if you say it.

    9) I do essays, not lists, for good reason, but have lots of visuals
    and

    To get more traffic quickly, sprinkle an occasional list between essays anyway.

    10) Hopefully the fact that I am somewhat new to the blogosphere helps.
    Unfortunately newness per se doesn’t help. Fresh and informative will draw traffic– eventually.

    What do you think?
    Good start. Good luck!

  22. rewb says:

    simple but quality, thanks!n

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren has some good points here based on a post by Chris Pirillo. A great read, but I’ll add some of the things I do regularly: [...]

  2. [...] The blogosphere is sometimes criticized for the echo chamber effect, with many posts being hastily-written agreements with other posts. Chris Pirillo suggests 10 ways to eliminate the echo chamber. Darren Rowse describes it as one of the best posts he’s seen recently, and Darren’s post is pretty good too. [...]

  3. [...] 10 Ways to Eliminate the Echo Chamber Chris talks about ways to reduce the “Echo Chamber Effect”. Darren has a good writeup on this list and there is some buzz in the blogoshpere following Chris’ post. My sarcasm might be lost to everyone but I really do like his advice, especially “Say something original at least once a day”. Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  4. [...] Here’s a nice rant about better blog writing, specifically, ten easy ways to lose weight—er, I mean, it’s ten easy ways to make your blog entries more interesting and original. Step back and think about current events, post original thoughts, stop quoting what everyone else is quoting, and more! Also, you can read some thoughts on the list here. Posted by s.j. Filed in Writing, Web [...]

  5. [...] How to Eliminate the Echo Chamber and Add New Dimensions to Your Blog How to Eliminate the Echo Chamber and Add New Dimensions to Your Blog (tags: blog writing creative news) [...]

  6. [...] For those who haven’t guessed it yet, my Mom isn’t much of a “follower” and doesn’t really care about trends and such.  I think it’s interesting as well if you really think about Digg’s success, the more who use it as ‘their source for daily web surfing’ the less random, independent browsing we have.  Take a gander over at Duncan Riley’s post on getting out of the echochamber (inspired by problogger and Chris Pirillo), and skip on down to #6.  Good call Duncan! [...]

  7. [...] I was going to originally write about “The Lost Art of Small Talk” and how it relates to entrepreneurship. However, after I read How to Eliminate the Echo Chamber and Add New Dimensions to Your Blog again, I found that it can be applied to the PR blogosphere. I find that a lot of PR bloggers link to each other and those unknown PR voices, hardly get linked to. This process has a few affects as a whole. [...]

  8. Frischer Wind: Wie erfinde ich (m)ein Weblog neu?…

    Eine frische Brise in die Segel unserer Seiten tut jedem Projekt gut. Übliche Vorgehensweisen punktuell zu durchbrechen bringt vielfach bereits interessante neue Ansätze zu Tage. Ergänzungen sind ausdrücklich erwünscht … Sei…

  9. [...] It was so inspiring that ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse had to add a few points of his own. [...]

  10. [...] These days, almost everyone is into running a weblog and trying to make money online. The availability of WordPress and cheap hosting has enabled every dreamer to go into micro–content publishing and cash their part of the AdSense pie. However, the weblog plus adsense formula has only led to eerily–similar sites, many of which bordering on content theft or simply just not providing anything valuable at all. That’s a point of argument, though certainly today’s web is not much different compared to a huge echo chamber. Even this entry echoes these entries. [...]