Writer's Block? IBM Researchers Have the Cure

April 22, 2010

Bloggers afflicted with writer's block can take heart: IBM researchers have developed a topic generator that relies on the wisdom of online crowds for inspiration and feedback.

Nicknamed "Blog Muse," it solicits suggestions from a pool of prospective readers, proposes them to potential writers, alerts readers upon publication of the requested post, and encourages comment. Topic ideas can go viral and build audience interest ahead of publication, as prospective readers can see which suggested topics are the most popular. The tool can also generate topic suggestions automatically.

In an experiment involving more than 1,000 IBM employees who use , IBM researchers from the company's Center for Social Software in Cambridge, MA found that Blog Muse helped stimulate the quality and quantity of blog posts. Proposed topics were six times more likely to be written about than topics without votes, receive twice as many comments, and earn three times as many high ratings.

The availability of social media tools, particularly within corporations, gives employees an opportunity to network and share expertise, insight and anecdotes with one another and with clients. But long-term can prove daunting. Only three percent of employees typically begin blogging, and eighty-percent of those never post more than five entries. In the absence of reader comments and input, bloggers don't know if their posts are useful or compelling. Or, they may run out of ideas.

Writing about specific topics of interest is vital for corporate and journalist blogs in particular, as they can provide practical information about a technical issue, trend, or marketplace -- helping an employee perform better. In contrast, social, diary-like blogs are more open-ended and entertaining in their style.
When fully developed, Blog Muse can potentially be applied to other social media and too -- anywhere where people need a mechanism for systematically requesting and providing content that isn't yet available. Using the tool, communities might generate specifics bookmarks, photographs or multimedia by special request.

A paper authored by IBM Researchers Casey Dugan and Werner Geyer, reporting on the results of the pilot program, was delivered at the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work on February 10. Another paper on the topic was presented and published at ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 10 - 15.

Casey Dugan has also posted a blog on her findings.

Explore further: E-activism: Analysis of black bloggers in the blogosphere

Related Stories

E-activism: Analysis of black bloggers in the blogosphere

April 9, 2007

In the first scholarly research examining the role of black bloggers in the blogosphere, Brown University researcher Antoinette Pole assessed how bloggers of color use their medium for purposes related to politics. She found ...

Student Helps Bloggers Overcome Writer's Block

December 9, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you write a blog and haven’t been to Skribit (skribit.com) perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Paul Stamatiou created the service as a tool to help cure blogger’s block (writer’s block for bloggers) ...

Study: Bloggers' reasons for writing change over time

February 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- While political bloggers were initially inspired to post their thoughts online as a way to help them blow off steam or articulate new ideas, over time they're driven to blog by a desire to influence mainstream ...

Recommended for you

Apple issues update after cyber weapon captured

August 26, 2016

Apple iPhone owners on Friday were urged to install a quickly released security update after a sophisticated attack on an Emirati dissident exposed vulnerabilities targeted by cyber arms dealers.

Sponge creates steam using ambient sunlight

August 22, 2016

How do you boil water? Eschewing the traditional kettle and flame, MIT engineers have invented a bubble-wrapped, sponge-like device that soaks up natural sunlight and heats water to boiling temperatures, generating steam ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.