I was having a conversation with an old friend the other day, talking about how if I never had to buy anything ever again, I’d be OK with that. Besides the occasional new shirt or pair of boots to replace the old ones, it seems I already have all the *stuff* I need.
Funny how one spends the first half of one’s life trying to acquire stuff, then once you reach the stage of life where you can buy pretty much anything you want, you find you no longer wanted it anyway.
When my grandfather died aged 80, besides the family farm and household stuff, you could have easily have fitted all his personal possessions into a single trunk. His pipe, his knife, his violin, a few shirts, shoes, trousers and and coats, a few papers and family mementoes, and little else.
I always suspected Grandpa knew something I didn’t.
THE DOGME 17 MANIFESTO.
- Have something to say. Boring, me-too blogs are a lot of work for a lot of nothing.
- All content must be on your own platform. You must own your own domain, and it must have a monopoly on your best work. Other people’s platforms like Facebook or Twitter can only link to the content, they mustn’t duplicate it. In other words, if people want to hear from you, first they have to come to YOUR house.
- All content must be uniquely yours. Anyone can post an opinion about President Trump or a photo of their favorite restaurant in town, but only Brainpickings could have posted this.
- All content has to be interesting, useful, or both. Nobody is going to read your blog unless there’s something in it for them, so every blog post must be written with something in it for them baked-in.
- Due credit must be given. If another person inspired the idea you’re writing about, then link to them. Stop pretending to be a genius.
- Write only for the ages. I like drawing cartoons that are still funny after twenty years, which is why I try to go after “simple, human truths”, rather than current events. Over time, creating stuff that ages well is far more satisfying than just cranking out stuff that will be old by next week, not to mention, much more easily found by Google.
- Pick a schedule, then stick to it religiously. Seth Godin aims to publish two blog posts a day, rain or shine, and had been doing so without fail for two decades.
- Don’t hide your agenda. If the purpose of your blog is to drum up sales leads or get more clients, it’s OK to let people know that upfront. Nobody likes a shill, true, but then again, people like a phony even less.
- Make yourself accessible. There used to be an unofficial rule than in order for it to be a “real blog”, it had to have a comments section. Yeah, well, that didn’t last long. Still, it’s a good idea to have a place where people can interact with you, say, an email address or a Twitter account.
- Aim to be the best in the world. Back in the golden era of blogging, 10-15 years ago, yes, we were a community, but we were also trying to outdo each other. I was trying to write more amusing stuff than Elizabeth Spiers, I was trying to get more traffic than Kathy Sierra or Cory Doctorow. That’s fine, the Beatles and The Stones were trying to outdo each other during their best years, as well. That’s how it works. When people started migrating away from their own domains, over to mass platforms like Facebook or Medium, they stopped caring. This is why capitalism work so well, and socialism fails so badly. People care more when it’s actually theirs, people care less when it’s not. Ownership matters.
In 1995, a clique of Danish independent filmmakers wrote the “Dogme 95” manifesto, as a response to the shitshow they thought mainstream, high-budget filmmaking was becoming. A “vow of chastity”, as it were.
The idea was to get filmmaking back to its essence, stripping away all the non-essential parts, allowing nothing but great storytelling to get between the filmmaker and the audience. For example:
- Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
- The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot.)
- The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.
- The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
I was thinking that it might be a good idea, in this current shitshow-drenched era of Facebook and Twitter, if bloggers made a similar manifesto for themselves. Hence Dogme 2017.
I’m not saying this is the definitive list of rules; I will say that blogging got a lot less interesting or rewarding, once I neglected these rules. Make of that what you will.