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Seating latecomers quietly after the show has started

Posted by Ilise Benun on

While my 2 1/2 years of blogging seems to brand-newbies like an eternity, the truth is that I came late to the web 2.0 party.

Because I’m a big nerd, it was no hardship spending loads of time getting up to speed, so for someone my age (46 in September!) who’s not particularly smart nor well-versed in Things Technological, I’m fairly conversant in this medium after a fairly short time.

But every once in a while, I run up against something that reminds me both of how little I know of this new world, and, more importantly, how other people may need even more catching up than I do.

There’s a delicate balance between continuing the conversation that’s already in progress and helping loop in the newcomers. You don’t want to p*ss off your core audience by spending too much time and ink on the people who are just joining the conversation, and yet you want to do what you can (well, at least I do) to make everyone feel welcome. (Except jerks. Jerks can go start their own blog/website/podcast/whatever.)

What got me thinking about all of this was a recent post of Seth Godin’s about "rifting"—his term for the unique ability of certain visionaries to find the hidden chasms between what is now and the way things will be and bridge them. He brought it up after reading a "small-minded" post on Steve Jobs, a "rifter" whose latest visionary item, the iPhone, drops next week. And then he quoted himself from an article he wrote for Fast Company, back in 2000.

It wasn’t a "dig me" citation. It was a legitimate quote, visionary in its own way (it was written pre-iPod, if you can remember that far back), and in support of both Jobs and Godin’s thesis. And it also served to catch me up—me, and a bunch of other latecomers to the party.

Aside from reinforcing what’s so tremendously wonderful about the web in general, the post got me thinking specifically about ways of serving up information that make it easy for people to get caught up quickly, or to dive in and do some useful preliminary exploration.

Some of the ways I’ve already implemented. Many are on the table, both for my own blog and website, and for The Marketing Mix blog:

  • accessible archives w/ logical labeling/taxonomy
  • links to helpful content, organized by category/topic/interest
  • links to additional information about the blogger (bio, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • links to the user’s Flickr,, lists, etc.
  • static pages with FAQ or other "evergreen" information
  • static pages with ‘white papers’
  • great user interface that’s fun and easy to use
  • interior links in posts to similar content published previously (there’s also a WordPress plugin that will dump these links at the bottom of a post automagically)

And of course, the trick to all of these things is to constantly (or at least, occasionally) review what you’ve got to see how you can improve on it. I keep a running "wish" list of things I want to do on my various websites, as well as lists of questions I can ask various gurus when I get the chance.

[For more on useful application of lists, check out David Allen’s Getting Things Done, or the article I wrote about listmaking for last month’s Networker, the online newsletter for Casting Networks.]

What kinds of things do you use to keep your content useful?

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