Engineering a Better Blog

by Bridget on June 2, 2010 · 5 comments

One of my most defining qualities is something you rarely see on my blog: I am actually an engineer. (Yes, I’m good in science and math. No, I will not fix your computer.) I may not look like a stereotypical engineer — for one, I’m female! — but how I think, learn, and communicate is naturally and by education very “engineer.”

In a blogosphere of dietitians, personal trainers, and physical therapists, it’s hard to believe that a civil engineer could have a place. But the truth is, my background is exactly what makes me a good blogger. Instead of trying to fight the way I naturally am, I learned to embrace it and let it enhance the whole blogging experience.

Now let me whip out my calculator, break out the pocket protector, and tell you why…

  • I can actually write code. Now, I’m not the best at programming but it’s very easy for me to understand what is going on behind the blog. I might not be able to fix it, but I can at least recognize where the problem is. As you get more into blogging, you start to learn a little bit more about coding and such. However, I jumped right into it.
  • I am trained in research. Engineering is all about facts; we’re not about to risk people’s lives on one study. Therefore, I am able to read through different health research and see the fine print. Umm a study of 20 people of the exact same age and race? Probably not great. I am also pretty good at finding research studies about a topic I’m discussing. My posts will include the links so you can check out the papers yourself.
  • I understand all sides of plagiarism. Before an engineer does anything, they do a background into what people have already done. Every single time they use this information, they somehow show it’s someone else’s work. There’s no shame in using other people’s knowledge, but you have to honor that they’ve done all the heavy lifting. You can’t take a recipe and claim it as your own (or not claim it at all). This also holds true in style. It’s called “intellectual property.” You might love a person’s blogging style but copying it is out of the question.
  • I have ethics training. Engineers actually have people’s lives in their hands (would you want to drive on a bridge that wasn’t certified by us?) so they do not fabricate or lie. I cannot manipulate data to make it say something I want to, I can’t lie about what I run or how much I eat. If I don’t like a product, I’m under the obligation to say so even if they sent it to me for free.

There are some engineering habits that I have to correct myself on too. My writing is technical and very fact-oriented. Which is great for research papers but so boring for blog posts. I also do more mindcasting over lifecasting. However, I think a good blog is a balance of the two, so I’m working on that as well.

The health blog world needs non-health career people to show a different side of things. My different side tends to be right-brain-intensive. We’ve talked about finding your voice but sometimes your voice finds you. Health is something that I work on every day; not because I’m getting paid to but because it’s that important to me. Just because I have “EID” [Engineer in Training, which isn’t as lame as it sounds] after my name and not “RD” [Registered Dietitian] doesn’t make my blog any less worthy.

How has your real career helped your blogging career?

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Katie June 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Go engineers 😉 . I’m going to use my coding skills (I learned in grad school) to make a more original blog layout and header this summer… but I’m forbidding myself of any fun blog work before my thesis is done. Lame! I agree that I need to work on my writing too. I’m either writing really technical or on Gchat/BBM/emails so my blog voice is still a work in progress.

Anon June 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm

just because you know how to use some HTML doesn’t mean you know how to program

Mandy June 3, 2010 at 4:21 am

Go Engineering! I’m in computer engineering myself :)

And to the commenter above, all engineers learn some form of programming, so I don’t think she’s saying HTML is exactly the same as programming C or something like that, it’s that it’s similar. The tools she’s learned in engineering have made it easier to learn HTML, because she can actually program.

Bess June 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Great post! I also come from a heavy research background and have ethics training….I definitely find this aids in my blogging, especially in wading through which research studies are whack versus worthy.

Also, with a marketing background, I find myself always promoting others I think are worthy of getting a pat on the back.
.-= Bess´s last blog ..Your Happiest Hour Yet =-.

Lexie June 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

The fact that you’re not a dietician makes your blog so much more interesting! I’m a political science and journalism major, so I’d like to think that I write well and can comment on health issues. But who knows. Hahahaha
.-= Lexie´s last blog ..Healthy at Home: an oxymoron? =-.

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