Andrew Sullivan rocks the blogosphere. He has for a long time.
Employing a saying once attributed to Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, he dominates because he got there “the fastest with the mostest” when this medium was still in its comparative infancy.
Yes, like most innovators, he saw the value of blogging long before many others did. And like every other successful Web pioneer, he’s not resting on his laurels. He continues to think out of the box, complementing his erudite but readable prose with interesting, often hilarious, youtube videos, along with carefully chosen photos, color graphs, and other visual media. He uses these elements not only to illustrate but to underscore his editorial themes.
More recently, he has virtually cornered coverage of the uprising in Iran, underscoring to me, a rather prosaic learner, that blogs really do have the potential of outrunning white elephants — I mean, uh, mainstream media —a remarkable feat when one considers he is only one blogger competing against hundreds of conventional news outlets around throughout the world.
But aside from all the innovative ways he’s enhanced his presence in the last few years, he’s does another thing exceptionally well: He provides his audiences throughout the world with deep context — in many cases, with definitive context.
Any one of his legions of faithful followers who spends at least a half hour on his site leaves with a reasonable degree of assurance that he/she has been well apprised of the issues of the day — the reason why Sullivan’s blog, “The Daily Dish,” is so aptly named.
He also engages his readers. Not content to concentrate on a couple of topics a day, he roams all over the map, weighing into one issue with a brief paragraph or two, before moving onto something new and often unanticipated.
But just when you think he’s burned out on an issue, he comes bounding back, sometimes with an extended post, sometimes with a terse reply to a reader comment.
You never know what to expect next, and that accounts in large measure for why the Daily Dish remains the 800-pound gorilla of blogging.
And, yes, as you may have already ascertained, I believe Sullivan’s has a lot to teach all of us in Cooperative Extension.
Surf onto any Cooperative Extension Web site, including, I regret to say, ours, and what you almost invariably find are static blogs — an approach that flies in the face of everything that Web 2.0 is teaching us.
We must borrow a page from Andrew Sullivan’s playbook and begin thinking out of the box, packaging blogs that provide all of the things associated with successful blogging: deep context, engagement and, yes, even the occasional unexpected.