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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].


  • Arthur Goldstuck is a South African journalist, media analyst and commentator on information and communications technology (ICT), internet and mobile communications and technologies. Goldstuck heads the World Wide Worx research organisation, and has led research into ICT issues such as the effects of IT on small business, the role of mobile technologies in business and government, and the technology challenges of the financial services sector. He regularly provides strategic insights and guidance on trends at conferences and corporate events across Africa.


  1. Tyler Reed Tyler Reed 28 August 2007

    I think this brings about the whole topic of blogging A-Listers again. Putting bloggers into categories is pointless in my opinion. There is no such thing as a blog star, a-lister or blogging elite. There are just plain bloggers, some who write more interesting and relevant material than others. It depends on what you are looking for.

    Not every blogger sets out to the greatest blogger alive. Some simply start blogging for the fun and to express themselves, often in regarding niche topics.

    They don’t get huge amounts of traffic or comments because they are so niche. Does this make them a bad blogger? no! In fact I enjoy reading new niche blogs which have no relevance to me. It’s refreshing and pretty damn neat to see that blogging is growing. It doesn’t hurt to give people recognition for blogging, their contributions help grow the blogging community in South Africa.

    Blog on! No matter what your topic, there is always at least one person out there reading your blog entries. Don’t be afraid of these so called ‘elite bloggers’.

  2. Art2 Art2 28 August 2007

    I agree completely. If it’s not obvious that the term “blog stars” is used tongue in cheek, put that down to my failure to communicate it. The intention of Amablogoblogo is not to create a list of elite bloggers, but rather to acknowledge contributions that improve the overall social media and social networking environment, whether through a great blog, a great app, a great platform, or a great passion for the medium, or a combination of the above. That may well include acknowledgement of “new niche blogs”, and I suggest you recommend some of those here rather than reject the idea of acknowledgement per se.

  3. Jarred Cinman Jarred Cinman 29 August 2007

    Not to cross market or anything, but have a look at my post based on Amatomu stats here:
    for some real-world examples :)

  4. Dale Imerman Dale Imerman 29 August 2007

    I think we should get Simon Cowell in here…

  5. Art2 Art2 30 August 2007

    Hey Jared, that’s a great post. So what are you sugggesting, Dale, Blogging Idols?

  6. Ramon Thomas Ramon Thomas 30 August 2007

    How did I miss this? The launch your blog was not reported anywhere that I can recall.

  7. Art2 Art2 31 August 2007

    Perhaps you need a memory upgrade …

  8. Dale Imerman Dale Imerman 4 September 2007

    Blogging Idols could go down, but to formalise blogging into a format for competition could be really tough. It would probably end up being a short essay competition with tight deadlines. That could be interesting though. Lets find a financial institute with lots of money to throw away

  9. Art2 Art2 4 September 2007

    Aaaargh! That’s serious hard work for all involved, and therefore doomed to failure. Let the SA blogging awards deal with formal processes. We’re just putting together a list of the people who are terraforming planet blog.

  10. WebDesignMiami WebDesignMiami 18 August 2008

    Like so many tech articles posted since Tim O’Reilly (or was it Dale Dougherty?) first coined the term in 2004 (or was it 2005?), this one references “Web 2.0” as if it were something tangible–or at least a concept with clear, concise definition. It is not. In 2006, Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee sagely observed that “nobody knows what it means”:

    In 2007, Michael Wesch put together this video that supposedly “explains what Web 2.0 really is about”:

    It is a cool video. But the message is all about XML and how it can be used to separate form and content. There was no mention of CSS and XHTML, but no matter. I was writing XML parsers in the ’90s, and XHTML/CSS web design pre-dates “Web 2.0” as well.

    And now in 2008, the most honest thing we can say is that “Web 2.0” means whatever the techno-marketeer (ab)using it wants it to mean. Otherwise, why would intelligent people like Isaac O’Bannon still be writing articles asking “What is Web 2.0?”:

    And, why would McKinsey’s just-released best-of-breed report entitled “Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise” …

    … include no attempt at defining the term other than to list the “Web 2.0 Tools” that comprise or enable it? And even there, the chief ingredient is identified only as “Web Services”, adding more mystery to the mix as one ethereal term is offered up to explain another.

    As originated in an website design posting…

    … “Web 2.0” is like pornography: Nobody has defined it; you just have to know it when you see it.

    Bruce Arnold, Web Design Miami Florida

  11. Art2 Art2 19 August 2008

    So if Web 2.0 is like pornography, then going on at length about what it is/isn’t/may be/ may not be (or, even worse, going on about how others go on about it) must be the equivalent of masturbation.

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