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the big blog company | Blogs in the media
“Oh wow, that's a big blog you've got there!”
Some important bloke on some important blog.
Blogs in the media
April 18, 2006
Tuesday
Bad news for office Luddites…
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Company blogs • Blogs in the media • Trends 
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... that is how an FT article about social networking and media in workplace begins. I do not normally link to subscription sources but this article was too good to miss and I’ll quote the bits that make the main points.

The next wave in office productivity, represented by wikis (editable websites), blogs and other social networking technologies, is here. Experts say these tools will transform the way work is done by encouraging new types of collaboration.

This is a point I have been making for some time. It’s difficult to demonstrate the benefits of wikis and blogs (and tagging) to companies who operate on measurement and metrics only. The thing about the whole Web 2.0 (before it became an annoying buzzword) is that you cannot foresee what impact the activity of many individuals will have on the network and its dynamics. Many people doing their own ‘thing’ - blogging, organising events via wikis, uploading photos, bookmarking web pages, aggregating their knowledge, etc, give rise to phenomena that leave most business types scratching their heads, wondering what it all means. Well, it’s the emergent, stupid. Nobody could have predicted or planned or justified something like Wikipedia before it happened. As for business applications, the trick is to provide clear parameters to avoid unacceptable risks.

The article mentions some respectable companies such as Google and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein as believers in the brave new world of wikis and blogs.

Every Google employee can create a blog and contribute to the company’s internal wikis. Social technologies play an essential role in keeping the creative juices flowing and also help Google keep track of its rapidly growing numbers of ideas, projects and employees.

....

More than 450 DrKW employees have internal blogs and the bank has built an internal wiki with more than 2,000 pages which is used by a quarter of its workforce. After just six months, the traffic on the wiki exceeds that on the entire DrKW intranet.

This is what JP Rangaswami says about his experience with blogs and wikis within DrKW:

We recognised early on that these tools would allow us to collaborate more effectively than existing technologies… Using wikis is much more participative and non-threatening, as people can see what other people have suggested…

And most importantly:

Is blogging a good use of company time? They are going to have these conversations anyway – in the lift, for example – and if the topic is boring, people lose interest. It is self-policing.

Indeed, you won’t get the creativity, collaboration and innovation that most businesses profess to want without letting individual employees assert and reclaim their sense of identity and value. And this cannot happen if you box them in metrics, return and objectives that do not take into account the emergent impact of social media and tools.

February 15, 2006
Wednesday
I have seen the future and it blogs
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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Clive Davis is trying to strike a balance but blogs still come on top in his Times article:

Ultimately, however, I remain optimistic. For one thing, conservative bloggers still tend to be more tolerant of dissent than their left-wing counterparts, many of whom are about as much fun as superannuated members of the Militant Tendency. More importantly, if American bloggers often take a superficial view of Europe (we all sit on street corners begging, apparently) Europeans must take some of the blame. There simply aren’t enough of us out there working the internet. For some reason, the habit still hasn’t fully taken root on this side of the pond. Which means that, unless we rise to the challenge, the stereotypes will only get worse. Pardon my franglais, but the time has come to say “Aux keyboards, citoyens!”

August 15, 2005
Monday
Blog advertising - not marketers toy
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Marketing & PR 
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... or, as AdAge calls it, the ‘dark side of innovation’. As BL Ochman would say, puh-lese…

Kris Osen in AdAge wonders:

Is it safe to advertise in places on the Internet that are essentially run by consumers and cannot be controlled? How can they protect themselves and their good names when blog and chat-room users are liable to say and post anything? It’s not just pornography or off-color language that worries them. What if consumers got angry about something involving a marketer’s brand, and their remarks got linked to across the Internet?

The article has a telling sub-title: Blogs and Chat Rooms Pose Risks Despite Coveted Demographics. Interesting. So what happened to those pyjama wearing, navel-gazing techies, politicos and all-round geeks who are so not the desired ‘target market’. Or has the holy grail of ‘Mainstream’ exposure moved online and into niche audiences? My, we have come a long way. [/sarcasm]

Another ‘interesting’ thing is the terminology used in the article to describe chat rooms and blogs (which finally are being recognised as interactive formats although still clumsily lumped together). Consumer-controlled spaces is what they call them. Hmm.

But all is not lost because blogs are more predictable than chat rooms and they can be monitored, contained, controlled and neutred. Hit them where it hurts, take their ads away!

The other major difference is that because the postings are predictable, the content can be monitored and controlled by automation or by human beings. If something objectionable is posted, an ad can be pulled within minutes…

Feedster is using filtering technology that, among other things, collects and reviews blog postings over time. So the firm that is running an ad campaign on blogs(!) can keep an eye on wayward bloggers:

Feedster squirrels away a record of everything a blogger has written to establish a pattern. The firm knows if the blogger uses profanity, proper grammar and spelling, whether the language is on the level of PG-13 or NC-17, even how often they go off topic. The advertiser chooses the set of attributes it can live with. “Then if something objectionable occurs, it would take us about seven minutes to stop the ad...”.

Seven minutes! How cool is that?! Alright, I give in. It is perfectly fine for companies to know what conversations are happening about them as Pete Blackshaw of Intelliseek points out:

Companies need to be tuned into the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s amazing how many companies have no idea about all the bad things that consumers say about them—really vicious.

However, something has got lost in the translation - the idea is to join those conversations, not to control them.

Update: Doc already said pretty much the same thing. I guess, I am not fast enough these days…

The ”Try impossible” headline was my two-word response to the Ad Age headline, “Marketers wrestle with hard-to-control content”. I had other objections, like calling blogs a “consumer controlled space” and lumping them together with chat rooms; but my main objection was to the “control” assumption.

And states the point clearly:

Freedom from advertiser control, which has prevailed in varying degrees in traditional media for the duration, is one of the reasons we have blogging.

August 09, 2005
Tuesday
More people reading blogs - news flash
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Marketing & PR • Trends 
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Red Herring reports:

U.S. blog readership in the first quarter jumped 45 percent to 49.5 million people, or one-sixth of the total U.S. population, a report said Monday, suggesting the blogosphere is becoming increasingly alluring to online advertisers.

I am hearing this from all sides and have been invited to a couple of conferences for advertisering industry to speak about blogs and advertising. Hm, I am not sure they’ll like what I have to say but I will try to make sense of the relationship between such two different worlds - the blogoshpere and media industry. Well, the first thing I notice, apart from the bitching from both sides, is the media industry’s eyes watering as they are trying to focus on blogs. Too small for those big-budgeted and gloss-filled vista and the range of vision is adjusting with the declining revenues, impact and channel fragmentation and other disruptive goodness.

But back to the blog ‘metrics’:

As far as advertisers are concerned, blog readers are a desirable demographic—young, wealthy, likely to shop online, and with high-speed Internet connections. They visit 77 percent more web pages than the average Internet user.

Blogs are addictive, that’s the real news flash. Heh.

Quote to remember
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Quotes 
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It’s natural enough to think of the growth of the blogosphere as a merely technical phenomenon. But it’s also a profoundly human phenomenon, a way of expanding and, in some sense, reifying the ephemeral daily conversation that humans engage in. Every day the blogosphere captures a little more of the strange immediacy of the life that is passing before us. Think of it as the global thought bubble of a single voluble species.
- Measuring the Blogosphere, New York Times editorial

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

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 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.

May 23, 2005
Monday
Bloc notes
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Sui Generis 
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Loic tells the blogosphere that the French have decided what to call ‘weblog’.  Journal Officiel has given an official translation to the word weblog:

“Weblog" should be in French “Bloc Notes”

Literally, “Bloc Notes” in english translates back to “Note Pad”.

The “Journal Officiel” even thought about a short version, equivalent to “blog”, it should be “bloc” which should translate back to “pad”.

Blogs are what we call them, not what we are told to call them. If the French official organs can’t get that, then they do not understand the nature of what they are trying to define and prescribe.

Condescending to the ‘pioneers’
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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David Weinberger has a reply to the Boston Globe editorial that breaks out in the MSM condescension in the last paragraph.

It must be a little daunting to the bloggers — something like what happens when a funky neighborhood with a sleeper reputation becomes gentrified by a parade of new arrivals. The hope is that fresh voices will survive — that the outraged theory-busters and hole-pokers will keep changing the ways that society talks about itself. Like voting, protesting, and debating, blogging can be a key ingredient of democracy. The trick is for the blogging pioneers to take seriously their responsibilities to the town square and resist trashing it with self-indulgent graffiti. That would improve the neighborhood for everyone.

Joho the blog does not mince words:

Once again, the mainstream media feels it must lecture us “blogging pioneers” (when there are more than 10,000,000 of us, do we still count as pioneers?) about “taking seriously” our “responsibilities.” We are told that we have to resist our urge to trash the town square, to spray it with graffiti, to be self-indulgent. We “pioneers” should be more like the newbies who are gentrifying our little village…

Note to Globe: You, Huffington, Walter Cronkite, the NY Times and the Mayor of Reading are all welcome in our blogosphere. But your concern that your high-toned bigness might just drown out our wee voices is misplaced. The blogosphere isn’t a town the professionals can buy up; it’s an infinite landscape that will have towns of every sort. We little, irresponsible bloggers are going to continue to find one another and delight in one another. And now and then we’re also going to drop in on the upscale respectable towns — well, not the gated ones, of course — and, yes, sometimes we’ll be carrying cans of spray paint. But we damn well will not be daunted.

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