In response to my precis of the recent Economist new media survey, Frank Wilson made a typically succinct and pertinent comment about the future of these media: "no one in fact knows how this is going to develop. But those who are participating have an advantage, because one can understand this phenomenon only to the extent that one participates in it."
Frank has articulated very well a particular aspect of blogging: the ability to understand it by those who don’t do it. It seems to me rather like trying to explain to someone who does not have children what it is like to have them.
Liz (M. E.) Strauss, on her excellent site Successful and Outstanding Blogging, posted on this topic a week or so ago (link at start of this posting). In her article "Helping Clients get past Blogophobia", Liz discusses her huge enthusiasm for blogging and the effect this has on clients.
"We who blog, learn blogging like folks who move to a foreign country learn a new language and culture — by immersion. The people that we talk to regularly are having the same experience as we are. They know the sense of community. They know the personal and professional growth that comes from putting things on the Internet rather than always taking things off. They know, as we do, that not every blog is a whiny diary or some sort of political flame war." But: "the people we meet who aren’t blogging have heard the stories without benefit our experiences. Pick the wrong example and we can scare the pants off the exact people we’re trying to invite."
To advise the bloggophile on tempering her enthusiasm so as not to scare away the uninitiated, Liz links to a posting by Anil Dash on Moveable Type news. Anil says: "All of us who work with blogs, especially those of us who’ve done it for years, are excited about their potential. We can come up with lots of useful examples of how businesses can benefit from blogs, but sometimes our own enthusiasm gets the best of us.
To put it more succinctly: A lot of folks who are blogging “experts” talk about blogs in a way that scares the hell out of normal business people."
Anil lists some key points that can be used to help make the case to a client or employer, with the goal of showing that blogs are safe.
In the comments to Anil’s post, Celeste W of Studio 501C draws attention to her own post, A blog can be like a business lunch. She’s talking about nonprofit organisations, but Celeste recommends that such organisations have a blog that acts like a business lunch — a simple, general blog that chronicles life in the organisation. Such a blog can even (!) be that of PR or marketing people — the Air Conditioning Contractors of America being given as an example. Celeste provides lots of good examples of the kind of item that could be included in such a blog.
The bottom line is, those who blog know it is great. We know about the wonderful mix of self-expression and communication that blogging brings. We are aware of the power of the blogging movement (as articulated, for example, in An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds). But lots of other people don’t know or understand about this power, and are suspicious. (Remember that "blogs are cannibals" article in the online part of the Wall St Journal.) These articles I’ve linked too here are useful examples of how bloggers’ enthusiasm can be tempered and channelled so that more people and organisations can be persuaded of the power and usefulness of blogging.
The prediction by the Economist — one day soon, everyone will have their own blog — is one with which I concur. I also think every organisation will have at least one, as more and more of us join the conversation.
skint writer said… Yes, I can see everyone having their own blog, just like everyone has got a mobile phone (well almost everyone). I wonder how this will affect our psyches in the long term?