Muschamp Rd

Timeliness And Timelessness

May 3rd, 2011

The other morning while lying in bed I recalled one of the themes I’ve returned to over and over in my blogging, I’ve tried to pass on advice, experience, wisdom, techniques, even the essence of quality writing.  After years of verbal diarrhea here at Muskblog and a couple university degrees I’ve written more than my share and in many different formats.  And upon reflection I determined that the two most important qualities to strive for in your writing are timeliness and timelessness.

Now if we have any would be search engine optimization experts in our audience, you may not have considered timeliness and timelessness as being important at all or even something to strive for, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, the search engines know the importance of these qualities.

Timelessness = authority

Timeliness = freshness

Although not a one to one relationship, there is definitely a correlation between quality of writing and performance of a webpage in search engines.

While lying in bed that morning unable to sleep, I somehow ended up returning to my theme of timelessness and timeliness and the Quality of writing.  Immediately one of the most famous pieces of English Literature popped into my head that perfectly encapsulates the importance of timeliness and timelessness and is even relevant to the situation I found myself in, an historic parallel if you will. I’m thinking of course of “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift.

Written in 1729, it was distributed anonymously as a pamphlet. It criticized the powers that be at the time and their treatment of the poor.  Not at all dissimilar to how some have taken to using blogs, online social networks, and the Internet in general to speak out harshly on the social ills of our own times and our modern day kings, queens, and titans of industry.

What Jonathan Swift advocated in “A Modest Proposal” was the eating of babies.  And the reason babies should be eaten, and Irish babies in particular, was there was just too many of them and the Irish were proving to be annoying and expensive to feed, so from the perspective of the English Aristocracy perhaps the Irish and the Empire on the whole would be better off if babies became a fashionable delicacy.  This would both reduce the number of Irish in the Empire and the Crown wouldn’t have to listen to cries about the plight of the poor and how they are starving.

Simple, neat, sarcastic.  Too bad modern bloggers don’t have the skill with the English language of Mr. Swift.

No other piece of writing has used sustained irony so successfully to draw attention to a challenging issue facing society.  It has been almost 300 years and still in the British Commonwealth difficulties remain in feeding and housing the poorest members of our society.  I don’t have any unique or insightful solutions, but I do think those that are trying to affect change in society would do well to look at the pamphleteers of the past who lacking social media and the Internet were still able to passionately advocate for change. Marshall McLuhan noted how the invention of the movable type printer changed European history and lead to the global village we find ourselves living in today.

So next time you write something consider whether what you are writing will be timely or timeless, perhaps like Mr. Swift you can even achieve both.


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