Why blogs should cover some topics randomly

by on July 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm in Web/Tech | Permalink

Think of a blog as competing with both Google and Wikipedia, among other aggregators.  If you knew you wanted to read about "the minimum wage," you could bypass Tyler and Alex and Google to the best entries (some of which might include us, of course).  But with Google and Wikipedia you must choose the topic.  A good blog writer can randomize the topic for you, much like a good DJ controls the sequence of the music.  Sometimes you might trust us more than you trust other aggregators, but we can’t count on that and arguably the other aggregators improve at a rate faster than we do.

Flying puffin!

1 odograph July 30, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Speaking of random blog fodder .. Gordon Ramsay Nearly Drowned in Iceland Cliff Accident!!!

(I think the other important bit is to post daily … something you guys have down.)

2 Michael F. Martin July 30, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Volokh.com made by day with a story and graphic two years ago titled “Can Giant Rabbits Save North Korean Communism?”


3 mk July 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Oh dear, my comment seems to have been deleted due to too high link-to-wordcount ratio.

But anyways, computers can randomly select content too (itunes, google news, digg).

4 meter July 30, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Have you seen this?

5 Anonymous July 30, 2008 at 4:33 pm

This post made my day. Flying Puffin, indeed!

6 Tom Davies July 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

Well, yes — I read MR because of the authors and the general distribution of topics, not because I want specific information. And of course I read all my blogs via RSS, so that the (per article) cost of reading a blog which has very infrequent articles is the same as the cost of reading a very active blog. RSS has the additional advantages that you can quickly ignore an article based on its title, and tend not to see comments, which are time consuming to read but often less valuable than the article.

7 econgirl July 31, 2008 at 10:00 am

If you are so inclined, Wikipedia actually has a “Random Article” feature in the left-hand navigation of its main page. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page) Granted, it doesn’t randomize within a topic, but I still find it to be a very effective time sink. 🙂

8 Anonymous August 1, 2008 at 1:32 am

Actually, for academic work, a relevant academic blog is much more useful. If I search my econ blogs for a topic I want to write about, I can usually get at least one name or citation to look at. I can then follow that citation, look at its works cited and search from there for the relevant information. By plowing through a few papers like this, I begin to see the persistently cited papers that matter more, can read these and get a good idea of a topic and know where to depart from in formal research.

Good luck doing that efficiently with Google or Wikipedia.

9 機票 December 8, 2008 at 10:18 pm


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13 western style furniture February 18, 2011 at 8:59 am

But with Google and Wikipedia you must choose the topic.

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