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Blogs & Blogging

What this is all about, naturally

August 08, 2005
Monday
Blog Visitors More Affluent Than Average Web Users
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Marketing & PR 
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Who’d a thunked it?

Blog visitors are 11 percent more likely than the average online user to have household incomes of at least $75,000, and are also 11 percent more likely than the average Web user to connect via broadband.

I thought bloggers are time wasters, having nothing better to do then blogging about their cats and reading other blogs… In their pyjamas. And that nobody really cares what bloggers write about.

Something tells me that this should get the marketers’ pulses racing:

The report--authored by comScore Network’s Graham Mudd and DoubleClick’s Director of Research Rick Bruner, and sponsored in part by Gawker Media and SixApart--also found that blog readers visit nearly twice as many Web pages as average Internet users, and are more likely to shop online. According to the report, 51 percent of blog visitors made an online purchase, compared to 39 percent of the all Internet users.

Bloggers brace yer’selves - you’ll have to beat them off with a stick.

cross-posted from Media Influencer

August 03, 2005
Wednesday
Every second a blog - but not for the long slog
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • tBBC in the media • Trends 
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In today’s Guardian Jane Perrone writes:

80,000 new weblogs are being created every day. Technorati tracked more than 14.2 million blogs this month, compared to 7.8 million in March.

But the statistics show not everyone who starts a blog stays the course. Although the blogosphere has doubled in size in just over five months, only around half of all blogs are “active” - in other words they have been updated in the past three months - and just 13% are updated every week or more often.

But that does not really matter, does it? As I often point out, talking about blogging as a unified subject is focusing on the format and missing the most fascinating aspects of the phenomenon. It is like judging the success of printing press by the impact the Communist Manifesto, or the Bible or trashy novels for that matter, have had on the world. And this is actually what happens - there are people complaining about how blogging can be toxic by causing confusion or lack of transparency and credibility(!) and many arguing that blogs are nothing but self-absorbed rubbish at worst and an online version of tabloids in terms of facts and reporting at best, etc etc etc. Even is such objections were true, which they mostly are not, they are irrelevant to the understanding of what is happening with communications and the ability of audiences to connect not only with the ‘broadcasters’ but also with themselves.

My point in the article is that we should not be focusing on the numbers - that is playing the game by the big media rules - but on those aspects of blogging that are truly revolutionary. Self-expression, individual creativity in the public space/domain giving rise to a new online social infrastructure, on top of the technological one.

If you know somebody, how long does it take to know what they are thinking? It’s a long drawn out process. But with blogs it’s the other way around - you meet the person’s mind through their blog.

I see this every day and I myself have found a number of amazing people in a very short period of time. That makes blogging a social activity par excellence. And this is before the pyjamas even come into it. grin

Cross-posted from Media Influencer

July 28, 2005
Thursday
Golden rule for podcasters
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Quotes 
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Podcast unto others as you would have them podcast unto you.

- David Tebbutt, with apologies to Luke 6:31. 

Is corporate blogging worth the hype?
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Marketing & PR 
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Apparently yes. Backbone Media asked bloggers at hundreds of companies to participate in an online survey and conducted in-depth interviews with leading individuals from six corporate blogs that were selected as representative of the diverse spectrum of the corporate blogging world.

What we discovered was that for the majority of our survey sample, (which includes some of today’s biggest corporations and scrappiest underdogs), corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. We discovered that corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business.

Well, it’s not exactly a new flash, is it?

Update: Realised that my post reads as if I were sceptical about the report or did not consider it important. On the contrary, I am glad it was produced and big thanks to the Backbone Media. I will blog more about it as soon as I get round to reading it in detail.

July 21, 2005
Thursday
Business press on business blogging
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • tBBC in the media 
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Kyle Wingfield has a go at the increasingly noticed issue of business blogging in Wall Street Journal Business Europe.

He coins a wonderful analogy of what it must feel like for companies toying with blogging:

This may feel a little disconcerting at first; after all, the primary way that companies communicate with the public emulates the style of television broadcasts: a one-way message sent from one source to the masses. Think of it, though, like learning to ride a bicycle: The off-balance sensation eventually will give way to a confident, even liberating, feeling that allows you to go farther, faster, than you could before.

As I already said somewhere in a comment, I think the article makes a point for business blogging without overstating it or mocking it, which is the two extremes so many mainstream commentators fall into. Oh, and I get quoted a lot… grin

A day earlier there has been an equally positive article on the merits of blogging for business in the FT. Here is a good summary for those without paid subscription courtesy of Niall Cook of Marketing Technology blog who rejoices in the good press FT gave business blogging:

I love the Financial Times. They always make me feel good about the crap I’ve been spouting at my ever-sceptical colleagues for the last two years.

Two mainstream business press articles on business blogging in two business days? Hm, may be blogs are, like, getting out there, like, among the business people…

July 19, 2005
Tuesday
‘New internet’ tools in the media’s face
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Trends 
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Wired Media Hack talks about  FCC chairman Michael K. Powell noting that most of the significant pictures of the London suicide bombing attacks didn’t originate from professional photographers employed by news agencies but from witnesses at the scene using cell phones and digital cameras to document the tragedy.

Before, blogging was largely fixated on the failure of mainstream media. Now it has become a necessary supplement, and in some cases, a substitute. But Powell takes this a step further. To him, London showed that blogging has morphed into the art of raw, personalized storytelling.

It certainly isn’t reporting and this should not fuel the misplaced debate about blogging vs. journalism. But it is a development that was to be expected.

You really felt as if you were there as opposed to watching CNN or reading MSNBC.com, which are fine for the facts but stale and a bit removed.

Again, the myth of objectivity makes for a ‘detached’ (often read biased) reporting of facts that made the bloggers appear in the first place after 9/11 when many people felt that the media reporting was not on the same planet as them. This time, the media actually sourced its news from the ‘citizen journalists’ and we are all better informed for it.

And now there is Technorati.

The number of posts on blogs tracked by Technorati increased 30 percent, from about 850,000 a day in July to 1.2 million on the day of the attacks. Nine of the 10 most popular search requests involved the unfolding tragedy in London.

If you think about it, Technorati has become a public utility on a global scale.

Indeed. And not just Technorati but other search applications (such as Ice Rocket, PubSub, BlogPulse etc) built around dynamic content. Here is a very good explanation of the difference between Google and traditional search engines (wow, I am using the word traditional in internet context, I feel so old!) and Technorati.

Google, for instance, views the web as the world’s largest reference library, where information is static. Instead of the Dewey Decimal System, Google employs its PageRank technology, which orders search results based on relevance. Google uses words like web page, catalogs and directory, which are more than just words: They convey an entire worldview.

In contrast, Technorati sees the internet as a stream of conversations. This makes it much more immediate. Google requires two to three weeks to input a site into its search engine. (Although it does post frequently updated content from news sites.)

David Sifry, the guy behind (and in front of) Technorati uses a phrase meme epidemiology (love it!) as in:

In meme epidemiology, knowing the first person to say something is the first step to understanding the contagion, why some memes are contagious while others aren’t.

That is exactly the kind of stuff early bloggers were figuring out for themselves. On Samizdata.net, we have worked out fairly soon that blog something about guns, freedom, abortion, Iraq, Afganistan, multi-culturalism etc etc, you’d get more comments and more people linking to it. We, in the Editorial Pantheon, used to call it the tabloid-effect as it was predictable and rather crude. What Technorati has made possible is tracking much more subtle and niche memes and conversations that result in much emergent goodness.

There is also a mention of the Chinese blogosphere and how Technorati tags are helping the bloggers by-pass the Chinese policenet.

One indication that the phenomenon that Sifry spawned three years ago has worked itself into the fabric of internet life is that in China, bloggers are using Technorati tags to get around government censors. The Adopt-a-Chinese Blog program works by volunteers announcing their intention to host a blog on their server by employing a special Technorati tag. That way, bloggers in China can locate the blogs through a special page. Since the pages are served outside of China, the government can’t censor them.

Now we are talking about the proper use of technology!

cross-posted from Media Influencer

July 18, 2005
Monday
Bob Lutz:  To blog or not to blog?
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Products & Services • Brand blogs 
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General Motor’s ‘executive’ blogger, Bob Lutz is giving an insight into his experience with blogging in Information Week. He talks about the importance of unfiltered conversation, showing the bad with the good  as a means to buildling lasting credibility. Sounds familiar?

His concluding advice is obvious given the success of the Fast Lane blog:

To me, the blog is a way for GM to be culturally relevant. It allows us to be on the leading edge of new technology while getting our strong views out there about our cars and trucks. So far, response has been outstanding, with more than 5,000 visits and 13,000 page views a day.
To any senior executive on the fence about starting a corporate blog, I have a word of advice: Jump.

Told you so.

For those who can’t get enough of Bob Lutz, here is an interview he gave to AutoWeek.

via NevOn and cross-posted from Media Influencer

July 13, 2005
Wednesday
Back from a trip abroad
Perry de Havilland • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media 
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Did you miss us?  The folks at tBBC have been away, scattered to the four corners of the earth on.... shock horror… holiday!  Still, with the terrible events of a few days ago here in London, methinks we picked a good time to be out of town.

But upon return it was interesting to see a lot of blog related news in the media.  Obviously the UK political and commentary blogosphere went crazy in the aftermath of the terrorist atrocity but this item also caught my eye on Market Watch called Newspapers urged to be blog-friendly:

“Up until 2000, newspapers regarded Internet media as a ‘pet,’ and would not mind much even if they share some news articles with portals,” said the Korean Press Foundation. “Today, the pet has grown up to be a tiger that eats up much of newspapers’ power in both revenues and impact,” the researchers said, according to the Taipei Times.

Indeed, but in truth there are a few newspapers out there who are treating this as an opportunity as well as a threat.  It may not appeal to me politically but the Guardian has been quite enlightened regarding blogs and new media generally and as a result has positioned itself very well as one of a small number of global rather than just national ‘papers of record’.  Now if only they would start adopting blog style best practices regarding external linking…

June 15, 2005
Wednesday
Microsoft Business Solutions UK MD admits ignorance of blogging
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging 
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Microsoft’s Business Solutions describes its mission thusly:

...to help small, mid-market and corporate businesses become more connected with customers, employees, partners and suppliers.

Simon Edwards is the UK MD of Microsoft Business Solutions. In an email forwarded to me by journalist Dennis Howlett, Edwards responds to his question of whether MBS is looking at the commercial applications of blogging within their app portfolio by saying:

I’m afraid I’m one of those blank pages regarding blogging that the guy on your site talks about. So, I am a long way from understanding the commercial potential.

Is there any excuse for someone in Edwards’s position to be so clueless about blogging? I can’t think of one.

Cross-posted from The Hole

June 08, 2005
Wednesday
London gets Scobleized!
Perry de Havilland • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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Last night a Geek Dinner was held in London at the ‘Texas Embassy’ at Trafalgar Square, attended by over 200 people and with the guest of honour being none other than Microsoft’s A-list blogger, Robert Scoble.

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After everyone had gorged on Tex-Mex food, he talked about how blogging has significantly changed the way that Microsoft develops its products by giving their people the ability to explain what they are trying to do and quickly get useful feedback from users.  He also described how Microsoft’s ‘chain of command’ protected MS in-house bloggers from undue pressures from vested interests in the company, enabling people like Scoble and others to become very credible sources and thereby putting a human face on the corporate leviathan from Redmond.

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All in all, an interesting event.

June 07, 2005
Tuesday
Blogging rulez
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Bloglaw 
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CorporateBloggingBlog has an excellent summary and comparison of all publicly available blogging policies, IBM, Yahoo, Hill & Knowlton, Plaxo, Thomas Nelson, Feedster, Groove and Sun.

There is an analysis and bit of pattern-spotting among the rules:

The Core; all companies

  • You’re personally responsible
  • Abide by existing rules
  • Keep secrets
  • Be nice

The Common; approximately half of them

  • Add value
  • Respect copyright
  • Follow the law
  • Cite and link
  • Discuss with your manager

The Unusual; only one or two companies mention

  • You can write on company time
  • Our goal
  • You may disagree with the boss
  • Stop blogging if we say so
  • Contact PR

Each of group of rules is further analysed.. a must read.

June 06, 2005
Monday
Brave new world… of blogs
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Blogs in the media 
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A good article by Nicole Ziegler Dizon of AP in the Miami Herald about corporations entering brave new world of blogs. She uses the case of Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of General Motors to illustrate the effectiveness of blogging by making possible for companies to present their side of the story, or their story in the first place.

When General Motors Corp. wanted to stop speculation this spring that it might eliminate its Pontiac and Buick brands, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz took his case directly to dealers and customers who were up in arms about the possibility.

He wrote about it on the company’s blog.

There are corporate blogs, although the blogosphere is not bursting at seams with them. Apart from GM, other executives with public blogs include Richard Edelman, president and chief executive of the global PR firm Edelman and Craig Newmark, founder of the online swap meet Craigslist.org. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. also uses a blog to promote its brand. Randy Baseler, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, made his first entry in Randy’s Journal on the day before rival Airbus unveiled its A380 superjumbo jet. The numbers will grow for those companies that care about their perception ... and the integrity of their relationship with customers as Jonathan Schwartz puts it. Peter Blackshaw of Intelliseek is quoted, and I agree:

I think that in two years ... we will look back and laugh that we treated this as such a big deal as it’s inevitable that companies will adapt to the consumer-driven atmosphere of the Web.

We told you so… grin

June 03, 2005
Friday
Cybersquatters target blogs
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media 
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For years cybersquatters and typosquatters have preyed on highly trafficked Web sites such as Google, Yahoo and AOL. Now they are turning their sights on a new group: bloggers. Examples abound: Misspell PVRblog.com and you are directed to a porn site. Type blooger.com or bloogger.com and you are directed to sites with keyword link ads. Matt Haughey of PVRblog.com says:

People aren’t naturally gravitating towards just a few major sites anymore, and besides, those few major sites have prominent legal teams. So you go to the blogs, small operators with millions of visitors and try to collect the mistakes and turn them into cash somehow.

Oh joy…

May 30, 2005
Monday
Journalism vs blogs debate ad nauseam
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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Virginia Postrel wrote a couple of weeks back in Forbes.com:

Something about blogs makes a lot of respectable journalists hyperventilate. News pros seem terribly threatened by online amateurs.Blogging is a “solipsistic, self-aggrandizing, journalist-wannabe genre,” writes David Shaw in the Los Angeles Times.

And hits the nail on the head by pointing out that blogging is a format, not a genre.

Generalizing about blogs is like generalizing about books. A blog is simply a Web page whose author adds new content, or posts, over time. Blogging is a format, not a genre.

....

There are blogs devoted to knitting, to the Boston Red Sox, to biochemistry, to Macintosh computers, to art criticism, to movies, to California politics, to space exploration, to dandyism--to any subject, in other words, that someone somewhere has some interest in. About the only thing blogs have in common is that their posts are arranged chronologically.

We have been saying this for some time. Blogs are a tool, versatile because of their format that leads to interconnectedness. The entire argument of blogging vs journalism is a false one and has been had in the US a couple of years back. As the waves of new ‘bloggers’, i.e. people who noticed blogging just now and either jumped on the bandwagon or have an axe to grind, this issue gets revisited ad nauseam. Especially in the UK, where most people whose profession brings them in contact with blogs, seem to have some aversion to googling and finding out what’s going on in the US blogosphere, so far ahead of most countries.

The reason I am dragging this old (in the blogosphere terms) article is that Guardian’s John Naughton wrote a good piece yesterday about the argument (in which he does not link to Virginia’s article anywhere). He has his experience to share:

And it isn’t just professional hacks who editorialise like this. Non-journalists who are dismissive of blogs behave similarly - and in my experience those who are most critical have rarely actually seen any blogs, and certainly have not read any serious ones. But in truth the view that ‘all blogs are x’ (where x = ‘self-indulgent’, ‘vanity publishing’, ‘solipsistic’ or whatever other term of abuse comes to mind) is as absurd as the view that ‘all books are x’ or ‘all newspapers are x’.

It is a pleasure to read such lucid and informed points, cutting straight through the knot of the pseudo-debate:

What’s happening is a small but significant change in our media ecology. All journalists worth their salt have always known that out there are readers, listeners or viewers who know more about a story than they do. But until recently, there was no effective way for this erudition or scepticism to find public expression. Letters to the editor rarely attract public attention - or impinge on the consciousness of journalists.

Blogging changes all that. Ignorant, biased or lazy journalism is instantly exposed, dissected and flayed in a medium that has global reach. (If you doubt that, ask Dan Rather and CBS.)

Conversely, good reporting and intelligent commentary is passed from blog to blog and spreads like wildfire beyond the jurisdiction in which it was originally published. This can only be good for journalism in the long run, if only because, as my mother used to say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

More articles on the topic: Don’t fear the blogger (a must read)
Defender of The Wild-Eyed Pamphleteers
Bloggers Need A Shield Law to Protect Us From Legacy Media Inanity
Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die

Blogs gaining acceptance by some in mainstream media
Perry de Havilland • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media 
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It is always gratifying to see level headed articles about blogs in the mainstream media that neither hype them absurdly nor dismiss them as irrelevant.  John Naughton has a well through out article in the Guardian (who it must be said have always been the most blog-aware newspaper in the world) that injects a great deal of common sense into the discussion of the subject.

Update by Adriana: Speaking of mainstream media, The Sunday Times has a mildly informed article about blogging - Golden rules for blogging clever.

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