The Blogger’s Problem – the “Keyhole Effect”

The “keyhole problem” is a common issue for bloggers.  A blog is influenced heavily by not only the world-view of the writer, but by the phenomenon of “looking at the world through a keyhole”. There is almost always a lot more information, from a broader range of sources and viewpoints, than one can cover and still write productively, so one must accept that you can only “look through a keyhole” at the world.  Here is how I attempt to handle this problem.

Read with care.  When I read a blog (or any information) I am always watching for the influence of world-view, personal agendas, the enthusiasm of the writer for the topic, and the limitations imposed by getting one’s information from the media and whatever research the writer has had time to do.  Any of these areas can create a weakness in the resulting material, but blog writers are especially prone to the limitation of time, as most of us have day jobs, family involvements, and other things to do outside of researching our chosen topics.  It is hard to take in the full range of information on a topic when your time is limited.

The quality of the result comes from how we handle the research.  I try my best to be open minded but skeptical, to research well, to question my sources, and to share my sources with you so you can read them and draw your own conclusions (which I also hope you will share with the rest of us).  I try to source actual studies rather than other blogs, which sometimes requires some extra digging.  Sometimes I go back and add references, or even do a rewrite, for a previously published entry, though that hasn’t been needed very often.

Time is a significant limitation.  I can’t research and write every day, and am lucky if I have an hour or an hour and a half in a day to do some research and writing.  A lot of my drafts, accordingly, are developed on the weekends and then re-researched and polished up during the week for a quick release process.  I worry that I don’t have time to do as good a job of researching the topic as I’d like, but I can only do my best.  Fortunately for me, I can type at up to 60 words per minute …

Being open-minded and even-handed is important.  I try hard to not just look for and include sources that support my own views, but to look at opposing points of view as I research.  I think it is purely human to too-easily discredit views that oppose what you already think.  I resist that and try to read more deeply into a variety of viewpoints, and only then make my own judgment calls on what makes sense and is well-supported versus the information that seems to be more conjecture than fact, more dreaming than analyzing, or strongly driven by ideology.  (Dreaming can be entertaining and stimulating, though, and I do a bit of it myself.)  I always consider the source, and an academic study will always pull more weight with me than something out of Fox News or Joe Shmoe’s rant-blog. 

This is not an apology, but more of an advisory.  I will continue to do my best at this, and write about what concerns me in a way that, hopefully, the reader will find interesting and informative.  I realize I may come off as slanted to some people, and may be slanted at times, but that is one of the reasons I welcome your comments.  I am always willing to be “wised up” if I am off base on something, or if there is better information I missed.  In fact, I appreciate it.  I have had few comments on this blog, but most of them have been constructive and helpful, occasionally opening my eyes to really good information I was unaware of, and I thank those who helped me with their comments. 

Looking at the world through a keyhole is an inescapable fact of life for anyone writing for others, but it’s especially a problem for bloggers.  I intend to remain aware of that, and to do my best to counter it.  I appreciate your reading my blog, but especially if it moves you to learn more and take action on the most important challenge in our lives today: the pursuit of a sustainable world situation.

As always, I welcome your comments.


4 responses to “The Blogger’s Problem – the “Keyhole Effect”

  1. I never really thought about blogging like this before. What an interesting insight. I normally only blog for my friends and family, and I never really considered the people looking in.

  2. To oh2btigger – If you don’t want the world to read it, make an email distribution list or something. This is publishing … really.

    Thanks for the comment – Tim

  3. Tim,
    Your point about research is vital. As any academic writer knows, a well researched paper will construct a careful arugment based on well documented sources and references. Of course, I read alot of blogs sometime for the pure entertainment value not just for substantial heavy weight research.
    And no matter the personal bias of the author and even while we distinguish between mere verbiage, opinion and fact – it’s worth noting that sometimes a comment can be true and gives us an insight and overview into how things really are. Peering through the key hole sometimes allows us to establish what is going on in the room.

  4. I agree with you, Emile. Sometimes that “keyhole view” reveals the whole picture (or the writer makes some lucky guesses based on what they can see), and sometimes it just happens to illuminate a central fact. Unfortunately seeing less than the whole “room” through the keyhole always increases risk of “getting it wrong”, too. I have to think that risk is pretty significant.
    And then we have the “keyhole” of the writer’s expectations, wants, personal agenda, etc., a much bigger risk IMHO.
    Thanks for your comment — Tim

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