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A weblog by Jon Silk, Client Services Director at LEWIS PR. (Contact / Subscribe)
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Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Jakob's cream crackers

Something I added to my del.icio.us feed to post about (but The Friendly Ghost beat me to it) is the Jakob Neilsen vs. Robert Scoble spat.

Here's my, by now surely 'signature', summary:

Jakob posts an article about how to write blog posts. In short: "Don't."
Robert defends blogging (as, admittedly, it's the entire basis of his career), and takes it worryingly personally.
The end.

I felt it important to point a few things out. Both parties are arguing about the best way to write for the web. Both parties are, in their own way, experts about writing for the web. People really listen to both of them, and are interested in not just their views on writing for the web, but on just about everything. So far, so rosy. But let's delve a little into their personal credentials.

Jakob is a software engineer. Yes, he has written books. But his books are called things like 'Coordinating User Interfaces for Consistency' and 'Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond'. Hardly swirling narrative, intense characterisation or soaring verbage.

Robert, on the other hand, dropped out of journalism school and worked for a bit at a technology publications company doing odd jobs. Then he did a bit of marketing, sales and video production. At Microsoft, he started a blog which got popular, and became King. He then co-wrote Naked Conversations which, at the very least, is an accessible book.

Neither are really writers as such, so I find it - on the surface at least - quite amusing that they're publicly arguing about how to write for the web. They should really have asked me. But when it boils down to pure credentials, you gotta go with Scoble.

(And as an additional point, usability's all but over as a concept. It's not about fancy icons or slick navigation any more - nobody can see them in RSS anyway.)

2 comments:

Stephen Davies said...

But usability's still valid from a SEO point of view. Plus, there's only a small majority of the internet population using RSS.

Friendly Ghost said...

What is 'usability'? You 'use' it to learn something, surely? This is where I think Nielsen loses out. All I 'learn' is his take on this. Nothing more. I learn much more from Scoble through his responses.

I think what this tells us, from a copywriting perspective, is that stolidly choosing one audience or the other really is the wrong way to go. When I write, I target at the audience - plus a degree or two either way. Scoble and Nielsen are taking an extreme viewpoint, and perhaps this is where professional writing diverges from blogging: the truth lies somewhere in between.