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David Lee King

Nielsen Doesn’t Get 2.0



At least, as far as i can tell. His latest Alertbox article is a good example. The article discusses why one should “write articles, not blog postings.” His summary states: “To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.”

Then he goes into his usual charts and graphs that show that well-written, thorough content is much better than shallow, quickly-written content.

I have a question: how come a blog posting can’t be “thorough, value-added content?”

Neilsen seems to be confusing the content with the container. A blog is nothing more than an easy-to-use CMS (content management system) – the content can be shallow or thorough. It depends on the individual author.

For example, Neilsen’s Alertbox articles, which I usually find to be “thorough, value-added content” could easily be blog postings… all he has to do is offer an RSS feed and allow comments, really (yes, I know, he’d need to use some type of blogging software for it too be a REAL blog…). If he did that – added a way to subscribe to his articles via an RSS feed – would that suddenly turn his well-thought-out articles into “quickly written, shallow postings”?

I don’t think so. Do you?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.informationatrix.wordpress.com/ Kate Crowe

    Yeah, I’m equally confused by the conflation of “easily published online” with “badly written, shallow, and inflammatory.”

    Sure, some blogs are badly written and inflammatory, but that seems like as silly of an extrapolation as, oh, using a very specific group of twentysomething Williamsburg, Brooklyn librarians to generalize about the social habits and motivations of all Gen X/Y librarians everywhere.

    And just FYI, I was only mildly annoyed at the NYT article, but it was right there, so I had to. What can I say, I’m weak. ;)

  • http://www.informationatrix.wordpress.com Kate Crowe

    Yeah, I’m equally confused by the conflation of “easily published online” with “badly written, shallow, and inflammatory.”

    Sure, some blogs are badly written and inflammatory, but that seems like as silly of an extrapolation as, oh, using a very specific group of twentysomething Williamsburg, Brooklyn librarians to generalize about the social habits and motivations of all Gen X/Y librarians everywhere.

    And just FYI, I was only mildly annoyed at the NYT article, but it was right there, so I had to. What can I say, I’m weak. ;)

  • davidleeking

    Hey -coming from someone who wrote a snarky song in response to a blog post… I can’t really say much :-)

  • davidleeking

    Hey -coming from someone who wrote a snarky song in response to a blog post… I can’t really say much :-)

  • http://bloy.net/ Jonathan

    Not to go off topic, but does anyone else find it ironic that the person who writes the most well known usability column on the web doesn’t have a single RSS feed on his site?

  • http://bloy.net/ Jonathan

    Not to go off topic, but does anyone else find it ironic that the person who writes the most well known usability column on the web doesn’t have a single RSS feed on his site?

  • britne

    @Jonathan:
    Yeah, that’s irked me for a long time.

  • britne

    @Jonathan:
    Yeah, that’s irked me for a long time.

  • http://tombrarian.wordpress.com/ Tom

    Yeah, well, this is the same guy who called the use of AJAX “irrelevant” and advocated hand-drawn maps over interactive ones: http://www.sitepoint.com/article/interview-jakob-nielsen

    I believe his days of being a Web guru are long gone.

  • http://tombrarian.wordpress.com Tom

    Yeah, well, this is the same guy who called the use of AJAX “irrelevant” and advocated hand-drawn maps over interactive ones: http://www.sitepoint.com/article/interview-jakob-nielsen

    I believe his days of being a Web guru are long gone.

  • http://zbdigitaal.blogspot.com/ Edwin

    Nielsen is the guru of usability, right?

    Practice what u preach then Jacob. His site hurts they eyes….

  • http://zbdigitaal.blogspot.com Edwin

    Nielsen is the guru of usability, right?

    Practice what u preach then Jacob. His site hurts they eyes….

  • http://zbdigitaal.blogspot.com/ Edwin

    the eyes that is :-)

  • http://zbdigitaal.blogspot.com Edwin

    the eyes that is :-)

  • lissa

    Ouch. Poor outdated Nielsen. I loved his stuff during grad school, too. I can honestly say that his writings changed my life, because I learned to blame the interface instead of the user, which made it much easier to work with new computer users who make the same mistakes every day on poorly designed products! Since I am admitedly out of the loop — who is the successor to Nielsen’s legacy? or is that still tbd?

  • lissa

    Ouch. Poor outdated Nielsen. I loved his stuff during grad school, too. I can honestly say that his writings changed my life, because I learned to blame the interface instead of the user, which made it much easier to work with new computer users who make the same mistakes every day on poorly designed products! Since I am admitedly out of the loop — who is the successor to Nielsen’s legacy? or is that still tbd?

  • davidleeking

    Steve Krug and his book “Don’t Make Me Think” is probably the best usability book out there right now.

    Other than that, I’m not really sure…!

  • davidleeking

    Steve Krug and his book “Don’t Make Me Think” is probably the best usability book out there right now.

    Other than that, I’m not really sure…!

  • Sandy

    I read the blog posting here and Neilsen’s article. I tend to favour Neilsen because he took the time to create “thorough, value-added content” and not just an off-the-cuff blog post.

    I don’t think Neilsen is confusing the content with the container. I think he’s saying that the container affects the content (or as some might say: the medium is the message). I also think the question “how come a blog posting can’t be ‘through, value-added content?’ is disingenuous. The problem is not that they “can’t be”, rather it’s that they aren’t. Why? Because that’s the way users are using them and we should respect and understand that. It’s the same reason why I (and almost everyone I know) will spend more time and effort on a memo than I will dashing off an email. Generally memos have far better content because that’s the way we use that container. It’s also why I discontinued handing in university essays on toilet paper … the medium didn’t seem quite right, regardless of the dribble I’d written.

  • Sandy

    I read the blog posting here and Neilsen’s article. I tend to favour Neilsen because he took the time to create “thorough, value-added content” and not just an off-the-cuff blog post.

    I don’t think Neilsen is confusing the content with the container. I think he’s saying that the container affects the content (or as some might say: the medium is the message). I also think the question “how come a blog posting can’t be ‘through, value-added content?’ is disingenuous. The problem is not that they “can’t be”, rather it’s that they aren’t. Why? Because that’s the way users are using them and we should respect and understand that. It’s the same reason why I (and almost everyone I know) will spend more time and effort on a memo than I will dashing off an email. Generally memos have far better content because that’s the way we use that container. It’s also why I discontinued handing in university essays on toilet paper … the medium didn’t seem quite right, regardless of the dribble I’d written.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david lee king

    You said – “The problem is not that they “can’t be”, rather it’s that they aren’t.” I disagree – mainly because I’ve read many a blog post with the same amount of carefulness and thoughtfulness of a magazine/journal article.

    Memos/emails… I have NEVER written a memo (and I’ve worked in libraries since 1995). I ALWAYS send emails. And have given MUCH THOUGHT to the more important ones.

    Possibly a difference of perspective here?

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david lee king

    You said – “The problem is not that they “can’t be”, rather it’s that they aren’t.” I disagree – mainly because I’ve read many a blog post with the same amount of carefulness and thoughtfulness of a magazine/journal article.

    Memos/emails… I have NEVER written a memo (and I’ve worked in libraries since 1995). I ALWAYS send emails. And have given MUCH THOUGHT to the more important ones.

    Possibly a difference of perspective here?

  • Sandy

    I agree with everything you said. I’m sure you’ve read many blog posts that were carefully and thoughtully written. Unfortunately instances don’t make a generality, right?

    I think it’s lovely that you don’t write memos. And I’m sure that your emails enchant and delight all your readers. But I did a little bit of research (it didn’t take me long) and apparently many people do write memos. So I don’t think you really addressed my point that most people spend more time and effort composing memos than emails because the container affects the content.

  • Sandy

    I agree with everything you said. I’m sure you’ve read many blog posts that were carefully and thoughtully written. Unfortunately instances don’t make a generality, right?

    I think it’s lovely that you don’t write memos. And I’m sure that your emails enchant and delight all your readers. But I did a little bit of research (it didn’t take me long) and apparently many people do write memos. So I don’t think you really addressed my point that most people spend more time and effort composing memos than emails because the container affects the content.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david lee king

    Sandy – I think you’re missing my point about memos. A memo is a type of content – the container really doesn’t matter. In your “little bit of research” did you also hunt for “memo writing email”? Here’s one such example – http://business.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Memo_Writing – it discusses how to write memos in both email and in paper formats.

    I meant that I don’t write paper-based memos – I do email-based memos all the time. And many other professionals, in many walks of life, do the same thing.

    As far as blogs being well-written and thought out – time will tell. Obviously, you can find poorly-written blogs, and I can find well-written blogs. The point? You’re confusing content with container. The container is the blog software – the content can be anything from a silly personal diary that wasn’t thought out to a full-fledged, year long book project that was extremely well-written and planned out.

    Container vs content – they are different.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david lee king

    Sandy – I think you’re missing my point about memos. A memo is a type of content – the container really doesn’t matter. In your “little bit of research” did you also hunt for “memo writing email”? Here’s one such example – http://business.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Memo_Writing – it discusses how to write memos in both email and in paper formats.

    I meant that I don’t write paper-based memos – I do email-based memos all the time. And many other professionals, in many walks of life, do the same thing.

    As far as blogs being well-written and thought out – time will tell. Obviously, you can find poorly-written blogs, and I can find well-written blogs. The point? You’re confusing content with container. The container is the blog software – the content can be anything from a silly personal diary that wasn’t thought out to a full-fledged, year long book project that was extremely well-written and planned out.

    Container vs content – they are different.

  • Sandy

    Sorry David. I got confused when you said “I have NEVER written a memo”. Especially with the word NEVER in caps, I figured that you wanted to emphasise that you were making an unqualified statement. I see I misunderstood.

    I wonder if you would have proofread more eagerly if you weren’t just responding in a blog? Would that confusion have existed if you were writing for an electronic journal? Or would you have invested more time and effort in making sure you were absolutely clear before sending it off? Would you have communicated meaning by the use of caps? I wonder what your readers think? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

  • Sandy

    Sorry David. I got confused when you said “I have NEVER written a memo”. Especially with the word NEVER in caps, I figured that you wanted to emphasise that you were making an unqualified statement. I see I misunderstood.

    I wonder if you would have proofread more eagerly if you weren’t just responding in a blog? Would that confusion have existed if you were writing for an electronic journal? Or would you have invested more time and effort in making sure you were absolutely clear before sending it off? Would you have communicated meaning by the use of caps? I wonder what your readers think? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ david lee king

    Sandy, you’re correct. I would have edited more carefully had I been writing for an electronic journal.

    However, this blog is not meant to be any one thing – it’s part digital conversation, part notes and reminders, part sharing thoughts and links to what I consider to be cool stuff. Some individual posts are planned much like a journal article, while others are quickly written (and not edited).

    That doesn’t mean that all blogs are the same as mine. Hope that clears up some of the confusion!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com david lee king

    Sandy, you’re correct. I would have edited more carefully had I been writing for an electronic journal.

    However, this blog is not meant to be any one thing – it’s part digital conversation, part notes and reminders, part sharing thoughts and links to what I consider to be cool stuff. Some individual posts are planned much like a journal article, while others are quickly written (and not edited).

    That doesn’t mean that all blogs are the same as mine. Hope that clears up some of the confusion!

  • Forrest Trachsel

    Nielson should switch to a blog cast to receive more input and different ideas to his writings.

  • Forrest Trachsel

    Nielson should switch to a blog cast to receive more input and different ideas to his writings.