Blogging originality and evolution of ideas

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A couple of my favorite bloggers have talked about the apparent decline in original thought. Danny Brown suggests that popularity can breed sameness in part because of pandering to the masses. Gini Dietrich talks about aggregation and automation which encourages laziness on the part of the bloggers or writers, and, I think, on the part of the readers as well.

Evolution of thought

It’s not all bad news though. More people read more stuff than when we relied on newspapers. We see the same ideas or the same advice being imparted. We can scan or gloss over this. What is exciting, though, is seeing people pick up and run with ideas, and develop them. There is a sort of osmosis where new thought filters through and blossoms. Of course we all have many of the same sources, such as Mashable, and I read many top bloggers though I cannot read everything without giving up work and sleep.

At the same time, many have different slants on the same subject. I think it interesting when I read a post one day and then someone blogs on a similar subject a day or a week later, perhaps having read the previous one. As long as original thinking takes place, I don’t think we always need to worry about the “sameness”. Ideas are there to be built on. “On the shoulders of Giants” and all that.


That is not to say that it is OK for anyone to just copy an idea and spin someone else’s article as their own, or, even worse, just republish a post as though it were their own. That has happened to me and probably to you too. It is very annoying even if it is sometimes a rather back-handed compliment.

Being ourselves

I am not a top blogger, although of course I have ambitions. Don’t we all? However, I do believe that we can best develop by simply being ourselves. Pamela Wilson put it quite well writing for Copyblogger a while back. Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion demonstrates how being ourselves and saying what we believe in a business blog makes for originality and a unique brand. He also shows that we can write about anything we like within reason, which helps our individual personalities to come out.

Yes, in writing this I have dipped into other people’s material. I am being myself, of course. Even if you think I lack originality in thought, maybe I have found you a great blogger you had missed. But perhaps you are already way ahead of the game.

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6 Responses to Blogging originality and evolution of ideas

  1. Well it’s about time they caught up Jon, I blogged about the lack of original thought ages ago 😀

    I find a lot of this content aggregation attitude is from people trying to make a fast buck and not wanting to let their own personality shine through.

    I often find people fail to acknowledge the source of their inspiration and it looks like a rip off, whereas if they linked to the source and expanded on it, it would look much better.

    I have people say “I loved that blog post you have written but I thought I’d write it better, go and take a look”, I am sure I am meant to be flattered being the muse for someone else’s creative output but what happens when I stop blogging? where will their ideas come from then???

  2. Hi Jon! I think the issue is more around everyone saying the same thing: Quora rocks. Empire Avenue is the next new thing. Social media is a strategy. But no one actually does the work to find out if a) they agree and b) it’s true. So the same baloney gets recycled over and over and over again without any thought or creativity.

    The tools are making it easier for us to be lazy about it, too. I don’t think there is anything wrong with seeing a topic and making it your own. That shows creativity. What I don’t like is seeing a topic repeated over and over again without thought (i.e. social media is NOT a strategy).

    Thanks for extending the conversation!

  3. Jon says:

    Sarah, I expected you in the vanguard. There is an awful lot of “me too” out there. Of course everyone is influenced by what they read, but a bit of acknowledgment of the source and our getting due credit would surely help, wouldn’t it? Thank you.

  4. Jon says:

    Gini, I do agree with you. There is a sort of herd instinct out there, but really we need to consider whether all these social media tools are actually useful and if they tell us anything.

    This week’s craze is indeed Empire Avenue, but I’ll give it a miss for now. There are very annoying Twitter and Facebook updates I keep seeing but as I posted last week in “Losing touch with reality in social media”, I would rather interact or “meet” with people and not deal in numbers.

    Thanks for dropping in. Much appreciated.

  5. Babs says:

    It is scary that people are afraid of sharing their own opinions, not being afraid to end up with egg on their face if they get it wrong. So what – say what you think and discuss.

    We don’t want to read “bland” and what better way of showing the person behind the business – the person that is the business, than by being thoroughly human and exploring some of the “what if”s and “why”s.

  6. Jon Stow says:

    Babs, thank you. I think you are right that people are afraid of criticism. I had a hard time from some commenters when I guested on another blog. After the initial shock I consoled myself that at least people were engaged and moved to argue. Getting noticed that way by being yourself is better than being ignored.

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