In structure we’re not looking at a blog’s meaning or message or content except as a kind of stuff. I know that sounds weird and I know it’s geeky, and really I don’t know what came over me — but hey! some of this find this fascinating. Even empowering, you might say.
- This stuff can be measured in absolute terms: how much information is contained in your blog post? How many points, ideas or facts are conveyed in a single blog post?
- Information can also be measured in relative terms: how much information is contained compared with the length of the post? We could call this measuring the density of information.
You might write:
- a long rambly post that makes just one or two points
- a short condensed post that contains 13 points
- or something in between.
Measuring is not casting judgement
We’re talking about personal blogs, so there’s no right or wrong. Any of these models may be exactly what you intend, giving exactly the impression you want.
- #1 (rambling) is common if you are mulling over a problem, chatting casually with friends, writing comedy or a makeup blog. (See my first paragraph for an example.)
- You may use #2 (very dense) if you are explaining or illustrating how to do something technical or scribbling a shopping list or ghost-writing a Jack Reacher novel. Lots of information is delivered per 100 words!
- Your writing probably has a characteristic level of density which is perfectly fine.
My guess is that you will never think consciously about density when you’re blogging. However, at other times you’re very conscious of it. Some examples:
- When you’re editing anything to a word count.
- When you’re reading a formal proposal that is mainly hype with very few facts.
- When you’re editing a novel and you find a chapter where nothing happens except a chat and a cup of coffee.
- When you are watching a bunch of how-to videos on the same topic: some give you all the facts fast, others take far too long.
As always, it’s a matter of what density is appropriate for the text and the purpose and the audience. When reading something that is inappropriately dense, you may feel bogged down or confused or frustrated. (Not good.) If you read something that’s too “light” for its purpose, you may feel it’s not worth reading.
How dense is the content of the blogs you read?
Here’s a structural analysis trick for work. When editing government or corporate documents, try highlighting each new fact or piece of information: gobbledegook is instantly exposed in colour, or rather, lack of colour.
But as for blogs—one day, when you are skimming a bunch of them in Reader, figure how many ideas or bits of information you get from each excerpt. They do vary, and that may affect how you respond. The screenshots below are totally random. Each excerpt is the same length, but the amount of information contained in 30-odd words varies quite a lot.