Blogging history and Miller’s 7 +/-2 rule

Posted on November 10, 2008 by


In reading some of the posts made on different blogs, I think some bloggers don’t realize just how significant their posts can really be. Just how significant an impact can a well written/laid-out post have on a reader’s view of, for example, an historical concept?

I haven’t tested it, but I do think there is something to Miller’s 7 +/-2 rule (or “chunking“) and the practice of blogging on historical subject matter. If the user is the focus of writing, and there is hope for reaction to the words, considering the short “bursts” of words in a blog, is this not “chunking?” What, I wonder, is the impact on short-term memory? In an age in which a lot of folks want their data in short bursts, are these folks more inclined to react more favorably to effective blogging? So, what is effective blogging, especially as an educational tool?

Think about it. In, for example, historic interpretive signs, the information is concise (fyi, Virginia Civil War Trails markers run between 250-300 words and, for Virginia’s Dept. of Historic Resources markers, it is a lot less). Some might say the limited amount of information is oversimplifying the complexities of the historic subject matter (and thereby, a potential foundation for criticism of “heritage tourism”). Perhaps. However, is the author of the subject matter thinking beyond more than words on a sign? Is the author thinking of how a user can take this small amount of data and move on to independent study? Is the author of the words in the sign thinking about how he/she can word the information in such a way as to stimulate the desire, within the reader, to conduct independent investigation/study? Does the author just want to lay information out in words on a sign, or do they write with the user/reader in mind?

Because of similar “short bursts” in individual posts, the same thing might be said of blogging. Yet, what is behind your inspiration to blog? Are you writing for you, or for the readers? Are you hoping that your reader can take something substantial from what you write (a concept, perhaps)? If a blogger is writing for the reader, and the hope is that the reader will take something significant from the short series of words, is this what might actually be considered effective blogging? Perhaps, but again, I think it depends on the intent of the author. Sounds like a good item to carry over to the wiki.