06 November 2009

Some Advice On Blogging About A Decade...

Jim has written to ask me for advice about producing a blog based on the events and pop culture of a particular decade. Very flattering, although I'm no high-minded expert!

A few points may be of interest:

1) Choose a decade you are enthusiastic about - one about which you have good memories, an important time in your life - or a decade you never lived through but have enthusiasm for nonetheless.

2) Read up all about it. You may have lived through, for example, the 1980s, but you are one person. Your memories of living through the decade are very important - these insights help to give the blog life and colour. But also include as much media material as possible, and see yourself in perspective, also including the perspectives of others differently placed from yourself.

3) Don't trust all you read. I never use Wikipedia for example, or BBC on-line, or the I Love... BBC TV shows. I find there are inaccuracies and personal agendas seeping through to an alarming degree. Even media actually from a decade can contain misleading information, and I'm not just talking about political biases - basic facts are sometimes misreported. If you are including a snippet from a newspaper/magazine article or TV or radio show, and you know one or more facts are wrong, insert the correct fact/s - something like this:

[The Hungarian Magic Cube became Rubik's Cube in 1980 when it was re-named, re-manufactured and entered mainstream pop culture in the western world. It was released in America in May 1980, and the trademark was first registered in the UK on 7/5/1980 but, due to a shortage, the first Rubik's Cubes did not arrive here until just before Christmas].

Squared brackets indicate that this is your writing, a departure from whatever text you have been quoting.

4) Make it serious, make it fun. If you remember, for instance, the moment the Rubik's Cube first arrived in your household in 1980 or 1981, write it up. Was Dad befuddled? Did your little sis turn out to be an unexpected Cube genius? Cover major events, politics, TV, pop culture, pop music, film and fashion trends. Try and present as full a picture of the decade as possible.

5) Remember that decades are very short periods of time and look at how they link to other times. In the case of the 1980s, for example, something much seen in 1980/81 was flared trousers, not the height of fashion, but still around in large numbers. These are a link back to the late 1960s when this fashion first began to enter the mainstream. Do not be afraid to scan across the decades for the origins of some fads, fashions, news stories etc. Time is not split up rigidly into decades, it is a constantly flowing stream.

6) Accuracy is of prime importance. Study, study, study - there is a great deal of inaccurate information on-line. Try and make your blog a resource readers can trust. If you discover you have got something wrong, correct it!

7) Be prepared to answer e-mail queries/comments from readers.

8) Be as obscure as you like. You may have loved Max Wall as Walter Soper in Crossroads from 1982-1983, and have detailed knowledge of Marjorie Dawe and her life at Riddleton End (for example). Blog it all. You can rest assured that a topic not covered much elsewhere will add extra interest to your blog - and some people out there will come looking!

9) Most of all, have fun! And if you like your subject matter, that shouldn't be too difficult. I find '80s Actual to be both stimulating and relaxing. My final piece of advice, in the "immortal" words of Wham! is "Enjoy what you do!"

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