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How to be a blog star

It is fairly clear who the most active players are in South African blogging, social networking and social media. Already, a laundry list is forming of names of individuals who are highly successful at rolling out new offerings in this Web 2.0 space, or simply successful at making a noise about it. The names will begin appearing in the coming weeks.

This blog is designed to acknowledge and explore their contributions. However, if it were simply about rehashing the exploits of the usual suspects, it wouldn’t serve much more purpose than adding to the noise that they already make, simply by being out there. Fellow blogger Max Kaizen calls them the “blog stars”, and the danger is that they become famous bloggers simply for being famous bloggers.

The intention of Amablogoblogo is also to unravel the contribution made by those who are not making as much noise, but are showcases for the creative, unusual or innovative ways in which South Africans are engaging with the new internet.

This is another way of saying that, just because you have a successful Web 2.0 project or business under the belt and know how to write Facebook applications, doesn’t automatically make you a big deal of the blogging world.

My first blog (according to some definitions) went online in 1996, when I “blogged” (according to some definitions) the African Nations Cup, posting match reports as I returned from the stadium, or providing blow-by-blow accounts of matches I was watching on TV. This unofficial site became more popular than the official CSIR-run site for the tournament, and developed into a community forum for African soccer lovers. Indeed, it was all set to evolve into an everyperson’s African football page.

Unfortunately, that’s where it ended, and it probably did not encourage a single person to take up the cause. Amablogoblogo material I was not. And obviously that was no blog, although it helps me sleep at night to pretend it was.

On the other hand, the efforts being made by the likes of people nominated below the previous Amablogoblogo entry have had just that kind of impact. They’ve created enthusiasm and excitement around the concepts of social media and social networking. They have made themselves into blog stars.

So how do you become a blog star? How do you become an obvious choice for the Amablogoblogo? Here are some starting guidelines, both the do and the do-not, from A to Z:

Attitude: A collaborative, open-minded approach to making the web a great place for all who wish to be part of it.
Community: Attitude’s partner. If you don’t see yourself as part of a broader community, chances are you’re not going to acknowledge, let alone engage with, the blogging community, and success will be more accidental than deserved.
Humility: Don’t assume you’re the first person ever to blog. Don’t assume you’re the first person ever to write a great blog. Don’t assume you’re the first person ever the write a blog that makes money. Don’t assume you’re the first person ever to write a blog that is read by more than just friends and family. And don’t ever assume you are a qualified blogger and the next person is not. Read Rexblog’s views to understand that no one has a monopoly on understanding blogging. And then, despite what Rexblog said in that link, see the much-disputed Wikipedia entry to get an idea of just how many have gone before. You’re standing on their shoulders, and that’s why you’ve got such a great view.
Innovation: Either do or say something new to the web, or say and do something old in a new way.
Knowledge: Great bloggers know their core subject. They know their secondary subjects. They know their peripheral subjects. Hell, they know other bloggers’ peripheral subjects. There’s nothing as painful as a highly opinionated blogger who gets the facts wrong. Road kill’s got nothing on blog death.
Links: Links to other blogs and articles underline your knowledge as well as your attitude towards online community.
Personality: Great blogs reveal something of the personality of their writers. A feed of other people’s news does not exactly shine with charisma.
Quality: Great bloggers know how to write.
Queen Gertrude, not: Hamlet’s old lady thinks “the lady doth protest too much”, when the protesting lady is in fact herself (played by an actor in a play within the play). Many blogs become one sustained complaint, whine or winge on a single topic. Others display extreme zealotry on astonishingly trivial topics. In both categories, the level of protest is usually in direct relation to the shakiness of the argument. Get over it, and your blog may live long enough to become great.
Zeitgeist: A terribly pretentious word. Stop using it. Yes, that means all you blog stars.

While we think of more tips, guidelines and criteria, please submit your nominations for the Amablogoblogo here or email me on [email protected].