I had a teacher who said something to the effect of, “A thousand dead voices hang on every word.” I’m not going to look it up, either, since if I’m right, that’s fine. However, if I’m wrong, I just made up my own version of a quote in an article specifically meant to be its own version of an article. My teacher’s point was that the thousand dead voices were the other writers who have come before us. Online articles are kind of the same as this idea: it makes sense to write a great article about a popular subject, a popular article about any subject, or an obscure article about a non-subject. While I have not had the luck to strike rich writing popular articles for the masses, I have been able to write occasional obscure articles that may stand the test of time. This is not your guide to doing what I do, but you might learn something, anyhow, especially if this is the only article on the internet about being the only article on the internet about something.

The trick is really simple: you find something no one else has asked or wondered about, at least not since the internet. Maybe it’s something you find around the house, like family records or letters. Maybe it’s an article from an old magazine. Maybe you just wonder it, like when James asked if space suits could float. If you take your question to one of those answer websites, that website gets all the hits. If you post it on Facebook, nobody cares, and it will be filed away in the archives (again owned by someone else). But if you wonder about it and write about it, then it’s yours. You can allow comments or post the article to social media, but the point is that you want to get the hits and the credit. Maybe no one will care, and it won’t get you many hits at all, but in case anyone ever looks it up, there you’ll be, and that’s pretty cool.

Another aspect you might want to add is research, as this will make your article more useful than just presenting a thought. See if anyone else has anything to say about it, find similar questions, make guesses, and write about the experience. In some ways, the internet provides us all with an opportunity to add to the conversation at whatever level we can, so it’s not limited to professors in Ivory Towers slinging mostly crap at one another and publishing ideas to only be read by their own students (and other professors). I can publish one article that gets read by more people in a day than many of those academics will get in a semester or more. Not that I discount what they do, but they are simply not reaching the people, and I see the goal of The Conversation and education as reaching others. I also see the need for intellectual property rights, even if no one really cares about what you’re saying.

Google kind of protects you online because it recognizes the main website from which an article comes, meaning that if someone just copies your writing, your own website will be the only one displayed in the searches. That’s pretty cool. Not to say someone couldn’t publish it in a book they print at home. You think and you are, so show the rest of us. Add something to some kind of conversation, not just as a forum troll who posts under an assumed name, but as you, with all the wonderful flaws that make you human and important. That’s what I do, and that’s how I’ve gotten good at writing articles no one else has ever written before.

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