Of course, I disagree slightly with something he said there (as I often do).
In a nutshell, Dave explained that he doesn’t like to feature a date/timestamp prominently on his weblog postings. He thinks that tends to diminish the perceived long-term value of the content. He encouraged business bloggers to generally follow suit: to focus on providing “evergreen” content, and to play down or possibly even omit the date/timestamp on their blogs.
Personally, I think Dave’s approach puts the blogger’s desires ahead of the needs and reality of the weblog audience in a way that could be a problem for many blogs, and their readers. Here’s why…
EVERY WEB USER IS A TIME TRAVELER
One of the most wonderful and endlessly annoying aspects of the web is that it makes content easily accessible, regardless of when it was created. From the user’s perspective, jumping from site to site means constantly having to reorient your sense of time. When content was created or last updated often plays a key role in defining its current relevance, significance, or meaning even for many “evergreen” topics.
Time, after all, is a cornerstone of human experience. Events, issues, ideas, and perspectives constantly evolve, often through interaction with each other over time. I am hard-pressed to name topics which would be written or perceived in exactly the same way today as they would have five years ago. Yes, our world is moving that fast. Personally, I don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon.
Reorienting your time sense is generally a small matter when visiting one or a few sites. However, when you multiply that task across dozens or even hundreds of web sites (not an uncommon figure for a few days’ worth of browsing), it all adds up to a fairly significant and tiresome cognitive load.
I believe in making all online content as easy to access and grasp as possible, taking into account the needs, expectations, and realities of the target audience. For this reason, I think it’s important to put your date/timestamp at the top of your weblog entries probably not ahead of the headline, but certainly before the body of the posting.
This approach allows readers to orient themselves before they start reading your article, not afterward. This makes their time reorientation effortless. Because it will be effortless, don’t expect anyone to notice or thank you for it. Still, whenever you remove cognitive or accessibility barriers to your content, you’re making room to build a relationship with your audience.
And that’s what blogging is really all about: building relationships between human beings by sharing knowledge, information, and perspectives. After all, relationships are the basis of every positive human endeavor, from society to business to education to crisis management and more. (I’m pretty sure Dave would agree with me on that.)
I’m not saying Dave’s wrong. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just saying that there are different and valid ways to approach the date/timestamp issue. If you blog (or if you want to start blogging), do yourself a favor and consider this matter carefully. Don’t just do what other bloggers do. What would work best for your target audience?
You don’t always have to put the needs of your target audience first of course. However, when making decisions that will affect every posting in your blog (rather than just a few items here and there), it probably is best to put the target audience first.
…That’s my take, anyway. I’m sure Dave will chime in on this one, either here or in his blog.