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the big blog company | Events
“Oh wow, that's a big blog you've got there!”
Some important bloke on some important blog.

At least when we hold them, you can be sure there will be no grotty chicken vol-au-vents

December 17, 2004
London’s first blogging bootcamp for journalists
Jackie Danicki • Events 
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This morning saw the first in our series of blogging bootcamps for journalists here in London. The weather was - gosh, so unusually for London - absolutely miserable this morning, so our guinea pigs were somewhat waterlogged when they arrived at tBBC HQ. But everyone was very keen to learn about this blogging thing, which made for a wide-ranging conversation. It is impossible to get into the nitty-gritty of everything about the art, the science, and the law of blogging in one brief session; while that was not the point of today’s bootcamp, I was thrilled to see people new to blogging who are so eager to find out how it all works, what the big deal is, and what’s going to happen next.

Many thanks to the journalists who came along to this morning’s session. It will be interesting to see how they decide to go forward with blogging, if at all - we await the opportunity to blogroll you with great anticipation. 

December 14, 2004
More details on blogging bootcamps for journalists
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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In response to the invitation to journalists to attend the blogging bootcamps that we will be running in December and January, DotJournalism editor Jemima Kiss emailed me with a list of questions for a piece she is writing for that outlet about our sessions. Some of the questions are very basic, but they are worth answering - and for those who want to know more of the nitty-gritty about what we’ll be covering and about blogs and journalism in general, here you go. (Jemima’s questions are in italics.)

Hansard Society blogging event
Perry de Havilland • Events 
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Today I was a speaker at 7 Milbank, just across the street from Parliament, where the topic was blogging in the public and corporate sectors.  The speakers were Richard Allan MP, who spoke on ‘e-Democracy in Parliament’, Tom Steinberg of MySociety who spoke on ‘e-Innovations in the public sector’, myself who spoke on ‘blogging in the corporate sector’ and Isobel Harding, who spoke about ‘civic leadership blogs in the US’ and also about the ReadMyDay project.

I was quite impressed by the speakers, all of whom grasped that what sets blogs apart from ‘internet version 1.0’ is the network effect of the blogosphere.  Tom Steinberg repeated what has been our drum beat for quite some time regarding the importance of the seemingly trivial permalink and the emergent effect they produce.

It was nice not to be the lone voice crying in the wilderness on that issue for once smile

December 09, 2004
Blogging boot camps for journalists
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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They say that the pen is mightier than the sword and now some say that blogs can be mightier than the big media. Neither of the statements is entirely true but both contain a point worth considering.

Over the last few months we have had many conversations with journalists/writers and discovered that there are recurring themes and questions asked by this particular profession about blogs and the blogosphere. In the meantime, a debate about journalism and blogging is raging (at times) in the blogosphere…

It seemed a good idea to us to gather a few journalists who may want to learn about blogs and show them how they work and why perhaps they should care. As things move fast in the blogosphere, we would like to do a few practical hour-long blogging sessions before Christmas, starting Friday 17th, then Monday 20th December and Tuesday 21st December.

All sorts are welcome:

  • Those who feel that they should be looking into blogs and would like to have a chance to ask some questions, try basic blogging tools and see RSS syndication at work.
  • Those who already blog themselves or read blogs or are on the verge of blogging, to get started and get some tips from veteran bloggers.
  • Those who are just interested in the internet - the technological and social aspects of blogging - and see it merely as one of the many evolving online phenomena.
  • And especially those who think that blogging may just be the best thing since sliced bread and will become ardent bloggers in no time. grin

The aim is for you to leave with a live and functioning (and simple) blog set up for you, as well as an RSS reader to manage your online and blog sources via news feeds. A laptop to connect to our wireless network would be useful to bring along. If this is not possible or convenient, we will find an alternative way to get you set up here.

There will be only 4-5 people per session, and it will be first come, first served basis. The series of ‘boot camps’ will culminate in a blogging evening with/for journalists planned by Six Apart, the Big Blog Company and other ‘blog players’ in the second half on January. This will be a larger affair, so for individual attention use the opportunity to ask all the awkward questions about blogging well before then.

For more information on these sessions, click here.

Journalist bloggers are no news in the US. And last week, French journalism made a huge leap into the blogosphere with Six Apart introducing Le Monde journalists and readers to blogs. There is already a handful of journalist bloggers in the UK too and they are listed below.

(Updated 14th December) UK journalist blogs (if you know of any others, please let us know)

Andrew Brown, Guardian, Helmintholog

Ben Hammersley

Caroline Westbrook

Charles Arthur, technology editor at The Independent

Clive Davis, The Times

David Smith, economics editor, Sunday Times

Dot journalism

Graham Holliday, Noodlepie

Guy Clapperton, freelance journalist and editor

Ian Stobie, freelance journalist

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We Are In

Jeremy Wagstaff, Loose Wire

Jonathan Oatis, This is My London - the UK digital journalism blog

Mike Butcher, mbites

Neil McIntosh, Complete Tosh, Guardian Newsblog (and others)

Oliver Kamm, columnist for The Times

Sandy Starr, of Spiked online

Simon Waldman

Stephen Pollard, freelance

Stuart Hughes of Beyond Northern Iraq

Suw Charman, Strange Attractor (Corante blog) and Chocolate & Vodka

These are our little helpers for this occasion:
Suw Charman is an established blogger who write about blogs, social software and related issues on the blog, Strange Attractor. Along with Stowe Boyd and Greg Narain, she is working on Corante’s seminar series, True Voice: The Business of Blogging. A freelance journalist, Suw has written for The Guardian and the BBC as well as specialist publications such as Design In-Flight.

Alistair Shrimpton is the UK representative of Six Apart Ltd, the company behind the Movable Type publishing system and the TypePad personal weblogging service. Six Apart creates tools that enable hundreds of thousands of individuals, organizations and corporations to participate in the Web’s full potential by publishing their ideas on the Internet with simple, yet powerful software and services. Users of Six Apart publishing systems include The Guardian, the BBC and Le Monde.

December 06, 2004
The life of a professional blogger
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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I have noticed a recent(!) proliferation of individual ‘business’ bloggers who are offering their services to companies, mostly consulting and coaching style. Interesting development, as it suggests that the market is becoming more aware of blogs and the benefits of business blogging are perceived clearer, at least by those who are selling their blogging expertise. BLM Business Blogs, The Mobile Technology Weblog, Jeremy Wright’s auction on eBuy… and many more, I am sure.

To share some of our insights into the life of a ‘professional blogger’ - we discovered very early on that the hardest part of our job is to explain to people just how versatile and wondrous a tool blogs are. They are not “just online journals” or “just funny web-sites” or some form of online ego-trip but a flexible and potentially powerful communication tool that companies no longer have the luxury to ignore. This point has been most difficult to make in the UK, where people with titles such as Head of New Media or even Head of Interactive Media in large corporations, never even heard of blogs. Without our constant interaction with the US blogosphere and our contacts there, we could have been disheartened in no time.

Nevertheless, the perception is changing even in the UK. There have been a few articles in the mainstream press about blogs and although most of them missed the point entirely (i.e. couldn’t get out of the ‘blogs are just online journals and not very good at that either’ groove), people are starting to wonder whether there might not be something to this… er, blogging thing. Also, next year should see a number of conferences on blogging and once a large or influential UK company breaks the ranks, the rest will follow.

To that end, we are planning a series of sessions to assist those who are wondering about blogs to get a clearer idea what they are making their minds up about. The first one will be a blogging bootcamp for journalists where they can learn what blogs are, how they work and why perhaps they should care. The mysteries of posting on a blog and using an RSS reader shall be dispelled and they will issue forth enlightened in the art of blogging. Well, that’s the plan anyway. A similar training session for PR and marketing people is next. In the meantime, of course, we are here to explain, demonstrate and coach anyone, regardless of their profession. grin

December 02, 2004
Intranet, blogs and value
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Products & Services • Internal blogs • Events 
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I just returned from a conference called Online Information (they must be from the early net days when the combination of these words must have seem revolutionary) where I was speaking at a session about adding value to intranets. My spiel was about blogs in general and internal blogs in particular. I have been asked to step in for someone else only a couple of weeks ago and I am glad I managed to rally and put something together.

My main point was that all the projects whose objective is to stimulate information sharing, collaboration, creativity and innovation within companies have to be aware that they are working on a human solution, not a technological one. The implementation and the format of the solution has technological aspects but these will amount to nothing is the basic unit of a company, the individual, is not taken into account.

I enjoyed talking about blogs and what they are capable of to an audience consisting of people who can actually put them to good use and make a difference. I got a chance to have a quick chat with a few of them afterwards and look forward to hearing from those who found my talk interesting enough to get in touch. There is a lot more, where that came from!


My first slide

Oh, one of the people who approached me handed me a little leaflet saying: You’ve been blogged! Marvellous! There is a blog covering the conference, and it’s a good one. (But no permalinks, as Christina’s LIS Rant points out.)

Update:  Here is the presentation in full. It’s PowerPoint, so hold your horses. 

November 26, 2004
Clued-up networking
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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Yesterday morning I went to a breakfast meeting (yes, it was an American affair grin) at a very nice hotel in Mayfair. It was held by a company called Guidewire Group. It was early and I do not do early. However, this was well worth it and I am very glad I have made it there.

Guidewire Group is a name for a team of interesting people - Mike Sigal, Chris Shipley and Frank Kelcz. Their proposition is to create better communication and interaction within what they call an ‘ecosystem’ of innovators, early adopters and VCs, bringing new products and companies to market.

They do this by paying attention to ideas, products and innovation at the pre-capitalised stage and facilitating understanding between innovators and early adopters. Chris, Mike and Frank are behind two events that are of interest to me - DEMO, which is an exhibition/conference that introduces to the world the products and services that will ignite the technology landscape and challenge the status quo and BlogOn 2004 which last year was about The Business of Social Media. No prize for guessing that blogs featured prominently.

So what are these people doing in Europe and London? Bringing the kind of networking that we have seen online, among the innovators and early adopters, facilitated greatly by the blogosphere. Networking and communication is an age-old activity, which, with the expansion of various networks (telegraph, telephone, broadcast, mobile phone, internet) has changed the dynamics of technological innovation and progress. The most recent significant network, the internet, has enabled a whole new ways of interacting and tought us a thing or two about many-to-many communication and the dynamics of network effect.

My main point is that what we have learned online about networking and connecting with others can be applied offline. Transparency, openness, value-for-value transactions that do not necessarily involve money, filtering and learning how to create platforms and frameworks based around the players rather than processes to which the players are beholden to. This is where and what business should learn from online and Guidewire Group consists people who have done just that. Glad you are in London. May you prosper and all your partners with you.

November 17, 2004
Blogging in the shadow of Big Ben
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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Last night saw the Adam Smith Institute’s Democracy & the Blogosphere event in Westminster. An interesting mix of bloggers, blog readers, journalists and other interested observers pitched up to the ASI’s Great Smith Street HQ to hear from a panel comprised of our own Perry de Havilland, journalist and blogger Stephen Pollard, Ideal Government‘s William Heath, and Sandy Starr of Spiked. The BBC was also on hand to record the event, highlights of which will be broadcast on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening at 10:45 PM (GMT).

I always think that I am in danger of harping on this theme too much, but last night I felt compelled to point out that it is what you do with the technology of blogs that is the really interesting bit. If the blog format is overhyped - and by some sources it is - then the network effect of blogs has been incredibly underhyped.

Ignoring the fact that I would not be working for the Big Blog Company if I had not met Perry and Adriana through our respective blogs and that I would not have been sitting at the ASI event last night if not for the connections I have made through blogging, I used as an example the man who was sitting next to me at the event - my friend, blogger Norman Geras.  Norm and I come from very different backgrounds: Norm is a few decades older than I, from Africa, is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Manchester and a noted scholar of Marxism and acclaimed sports author. I am, well, me.

I ‘met’ Norm in the blogosphere in early 2003, when I started my own personal blog. He began blogging shortly after I did, we read and linked to a lot of the same blogs (including one another’s), and we started exchanging emails. Soon, his wife and I - the author Adele Geras - were emailing and collaborating on our own project.

In January 2004, I finally met Norm Geras in person.

When we got together face-to-face for the first time, we already knew a great deal about one another, had already shared our fair share of laughs and groans (some politics-related, some technical as I helped Norm sort out the back end of his blog), and had already established a context to our friendship. We had other friends and acquaintances in common, most of whom neither of us had (have) never met. Since that first meeting, we’ve met up other times - in London and in Manchester, at Norm and Adele’s home - and continued our conversations, introductions to new people...all of the stuff that makes blogging so significant.

Do you see here what the interesting bit is? It’s the network, stupid.

Good content matters. But good content alone will not do the trick. You need a network of people to read and appreciate your content, to pass it along through their respective network(s) and get you the attention of other people who will read and appreciate your content, pass it along through...Well, you get it. (Which puts you further ahead of the game than a hell of a lot of people who feel qualified to pontificate on blogging and what it’s all about.)

October 27, 2004
Democracy and the Blogosphere
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Events 
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On Tuesday 16 November, the Big Blog Company will be taking part in an Adam Smith Institute blogging event in London, Democracy and the Blogosphere. If you’d like to know what the event is all about before putting on your jacket and tie and heading over to Great Smith Street, check out the blurb:

Much hype surrounds the internet’s self-publishing phenomenon known as blogging. Many claim that the blogosphere - the community of millions of blogs - is the key to reinvigorating the political process. Some believe that, using blogs, politicians will better serve their constituents, the disaffected will become involved in politics, and public confidence in the ability of government to solve society’s problems will skyrocket.

There are also those who fiercely believe that, if only MPs would all start blogging, public debate would be dramatically revitalised. Is this wishful thinking in the age of spin doctors and party whips? Would more conversation with the public encourage our MPs to follow better policies, or lead to governance by opinion poll?

Does the blogosphere really strengthen the political progress, or is it more anti-Establishment than the Establishment would like to believe? Should the unprecedented ability of citizens to spread criticism of the state, its actions and its employees be cause for governmental alarm? Can our political process withstand such scrutiny? And is the blogosphere the big, equality-driving democracy so many claim that it is, or is it really a meritocracy, where the most interesting, compelling, and worthwhile ideas rise to the top?

Our own Perry de Havilland will be speaking at the event, as well as journalist and broadcaster Stephen Pollard, Ideal Government‘s William Heath, and Sandy Starr from Spiked Online.

For information on how to book your your place - space is limited - for the seminar and champagne reception, check out the ASI blog

October 21, 2004
Corporate blogging a là PR
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Marketing & PR • Events 
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Guillaume du Gardier announces a conference on corporate blogging New Communications Forum 2005 on his blog.

If you are considering starting a corporate blog, want to learn how to maximize your current blog, or simply want to learn more about how blogging and other new communications tools such as wikis and RSS newsfeeds are becoming crucial tools for your communications toolkit, we’ve got a conference for you.

New Communications Forum 2005 will consist of an in-depth, two-day intensive workshop for senior communications professionals, taught by experienced PR and marketing professionals, who are also successful bloggers. The event will also feature practitioner panels, keynote addresses, and a hands-on demo area. Our goal is for attendees to leave the conference confident they can not only start blogging immediately, but also convince their corporations and/or clients that they should blog as well.

I guess that means a trip to Paris.

October 08, 2004
tBBC and friends: In a good place
Jackie Danicki • Events 
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It has been quiet on tBBC’s blog today - with very good reason. After an interesting dinner last night with Six Apart‘s European MD, Loïc Le Meur, and Six Apart’s UK Manager, Alistair Shrimpton, today we brought the two of them back to Chelsea for a networking day with some of the other good people we’ve collected over our months of doing business. As well as our friends from Six Apart, we also had on hand David Steven of River Path, William Heath of Kable and the Ideal Government online brainstorm blog, the shamefully blogless Frank Kelcz of Pitango VC, WiFinder, and the Guidewire Group (which organises the BlogOn events), 3G guru Tomi Ahonen, Axel Chaldecott of SMLXL, and Adrian Bailey of PeopleFanClub. And of course, the whole London contingent of tBBC was there as well.

david steven, loïc le meur, william heath, alistair shrimpton, frank kelcz, tomi ahonen

It was a great day - exhilarating and exhausting, never boring, and it fulfilled one of the main aims we had in hosting such an event: to bring together those interesting, clued-up people we have encountered in separate environments and get everyone talking about how we want to do business, what we hate about business as usual, the value of networks and how blogging and related technologies play a part in all this. It was a truly fascinating series of discussions, and I cannot speak for anyone else, but I felt very fortunate to be able to be in that room with those people, talking about these things that matter so much more than the mainstream world seems to be ready to recognise. We all come from different industries and backgrounds, but the common ground there is vast: frustrated with some of the tired, outdated ways of doing business and invigorated by the opportunities and potential offered by emerging technologies and an increasingly networked world, we are finding new ways to operate and to be successful, and making fantastic personal connections while we do so.

My friend Cate sent me an email late last night which mentioned having trust in the fact that you are exactly where you are meant to be. Okay, it sounds a bit Chicken Soup for the Soul-ish, but I think we all know that sometimes in life, it is possible to feel as if you are nowhere near where you are meant to be. I have to say, I felt very strongly at our day session that all of us in that room really were in the right place, with the right people. The best part? That space extends outside of that room, out into our own respective niche(s) of the blogosphere and beyond.

It is a good place. It was a good day. These are great people. Can’t think of a better way to start the weekend than on the back of an event like today’s. 

September 22, 2004
tBBC client launch: Ideal Government
Jackie Danicki • Events • Projects 
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tBBC is pleased to announce the launch of the Ideal Government blog for our clients at Kable, one of Europe’s leading providers of publishing, research and events in the public sector. As the blurb says:

You’re a web user. What do you think ideal e-enabled public services should look like?

The UK is spending a lot of money and effort computerising government. Let’s get a clear idea what we want it to look like when it’s done. Dream a little, and help set out the wish list. Otherwise we might end up with something we do not want.

Ideal Government will be a four-week online brainstorming session via blog, with thousands of civil servants invited to participate. Members of the public are also welcome to have their say - as commenters and, with the agreement of the Ideal Government team, as contributing authors on the blog. In the end, the best ideas (duly credited) for how e-enabled government services should work will be sent to the Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as other key politicos, the UK government’s new CIO, Ian Watmore, and efficiency review process boss, John Oughton.

It will be interesting to see how this experiment goes, and we are very happy to help Kable engage the blogosphere to get the ideas and input they are after. Best of luck, chaps!

September 03, 2004
Wine, Johari Windows, and customer-driven brands
Jackie Danicki • Events 
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Wednesday evening saw some of the good people we collect (as Adriana puts it) descend on us for an evening of blogtalk, good food, copious amounts of wine, and - as always - plenty of emergent value that we could not have predicted would come from the evening before it happened.

Kate Whalley, a glass of wine, and the reflection of lots of other glasses of wine

Rocking up to tBBC HQ for the night were Alan Moore of SMLXL, Kate Whalley and Adrian Bailey of PeopleFanClub (yes, you have read about them here before), as well as tBBC tech maestro Dominic and his girlfriend Clara Zermani, a very clued-up communications scientist (yes, really) from Italy.

Kate Whalley, Clara Zermani and our Dominic

Rest assured that blogging was only one topic of conversation for the evening - we do know how to talk frivolity. (That said, at the point when we were all laughing at Johari Window jokes - “Alan, thank you for sharing your love of Marilyn Monroe-emblazoned accessories with the group. That was a bit of information that used to reside in your facade, but is now in the arena. This may not be an entirely good thing.” - one had to wonder at our sanity.)

Clara was telling us that she is interested in customer-focused brands. She reads the SMLXL blog, so she has probably read Alan’s recent post on how customers use brands, not the other way around. You should, too.

Companies need to recognise that the value of their product or service is increasingly in the role it plays in consumers’ lives. It is in the every day that real value is found.

Companies that are information rich have an asset which they can offer to their customers in more meaningful ways. Be that retailers, financial services, travel companies, media etc. It is more of a question of sitting down and thinking through what this value is that can surround a product or a service. Tesco‘s is a good example of a company that has worked at unlocking and creating value to the benefit of its customers & shareholders. For example: 72% of all UK expectant mothers sign up to Tesco’s baby club.

Alan Moore is exactly right in what he says about brands finding their everyday value to customers and using it to benefit them and shareholders. Engage by making yourself truly useful, instead of enraging by making yourself truly intrusive. Exchange value for value and let everyone reap the rewards.

That is kind of what we try to do at these dinners and parties, and considering that people keep coming back, we must be doing something right. (The wine helps, I suspect).

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