As we “work” our way through the holiday (or winter break as the school system calls it) we are once again reminded of Mike Arrington’s skill at dominating the trainwreck formerly known as The Conversation. I’ve watched Mike at close range for some number of years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how he does this.
For example, several weeks ago we did a Gillmor Gang episode live onstage at LeWeb. For two days I noticed Mike trying to come up with an angle to run with – Loic LeMeur’s jacket fabric just one of several weak entrants – but nothing to write home or about. Yet within seconds of Loic making a comment about bloggers and what I’d like to call social mediots not having a life, Arrington suddenly lurched upright like a dog at the beginning of a hunt, then sat back in an insolent slouch.
You know the rest, if you were online anytime in the next several days. My guess is that as soon as Mike understands the opportunity, all other sensory input continues to be recorded and stored while he plays out the scenario he’s identified. Analyzing his posts would reveal much of the same dynamic, but Arrington has a few tricks up his sleeve that separate him from others. A few notes on the Arrington methodology follow:
1. Think of it first. Seems obvious, but so hard to clone. Mike is what’s known as a natural athlete, for whom the mechanics of hitting the baseball are perhaps learned the first time contact is made with the ball. The feel of a clean hit cannot be replicated but only repeated. With a new idea.
2. Know you’re right. This is why people call Mike arrogant. Have you ever noticed how arrogant Ringo Starr is. No matter how pleasant or hip or whatever the interviewer is, Ringo always has that “I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not” vibe going, except Chevy stole that from Ringo. Arrogance when right is something else. And even when he’s wrong, Mike is still sure he’s right.
3. Be funny. Another big differentiator. (Ed note: Apple’s spell check redlines differentiator but offers differentiators as a replacement) Arrington has a sense of humor, which rules out most of his competition. The combination of being right and funny is devastating in almost every context, once you get out of high school where being right doesn’t matter.
4. Know that what you’re interested in is reason enough. It’s not considered politically correct to not care what the audience thinks, but if you care what you think and let that be representative of the audience, you are set. Another reason to call Mike arrogant, but I’d prefer listening to someone who actually agrees with what he or she is saying.
5. Know when to quit. Notice that Mike’s posts sometimes seem to just be moving along just fine and then… over. Even the endless stories about getting rid of Yang seemed appropriate once he was finally gone.
6. Listen to commenters. Just checking you’re still reading.
7. Portray the world in black and white, or Silicon Valley vs. virtually everywhere else, terms. People who see things the way you do, or who are absorbed in Silicon Valley culture, will rush to your defense while everyone else starts throwing stones. Delightfully entertaining chaos ensues.
8. Add a tinge of outrage about things that most people don’t get worked up about. It’ll just make everyone else even more outraged and, therefore, more likely to respond in the comments or on their own blogs.
9. Don’t take anyone’s shit. In fact, use it as an opportunity to entertain the masses.
11. Love what you do.
There you go, the most important tips on writing a Mike Arrington blog post. Print it out and carry it in your wallet. I’ve left out some super secret ones, like how to control Scoble and 20 surefire post topics without Twitter in the title. You can get these and more by signing onto FriendFeed, opening a realtime feed, and waiting for Mike to comment. He promised me he’d be there, this time for sure.
[Image courtesy of Laughing Squid]