Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Blogging: literary masturbation, or the future of journalism?
MoveableType 3 Demo (@ BBC Digilab, by Six Apart)
Interesting comments from the presenters about the potential future of blogging and its implications for journalism and corporate communications. 3 key examples:-

Corporate blogs: a more open company..?
Some companies (eg. Macromedia) have publicly accessible blogs for nearly all members of their corporation. You can literally go to the blogs section of their website and see what the CIO, or whoever, has to say - and post your own comments. Their view was that this wouldn't necessarily replace press releases, but would hopefully supplant them in popularity.
The beeb guys thought this was a great feature for internal comms (at ~25,000 people, it could be better), but in terms of public access, would almost certainly undermine the editorial discretion that is the hallmark of the BBC.

Netting the niches: reaching narrower community interests
Examples were given of the old mini-newspapers that used to circulate in cities to let people know what shows were on, where the cool restaurants were, local exhibitions or gigs, etc. These had been drowned out, by and large, by the big publications and by the dissolution of web publishing (every venue publishing their own website). Blogging appears to have re-enabled and enlivened these niches, not so much because of the blogging concept but because the technology is effectively Content Management Lite. It's the easy, cheap and powerful version. This, I believe, is probably where it has the best potential for corporate application - more a guerilla app, than a killer app.

Blogging = journalism?
Some bloggers have made a name for themselves and have readerships bigger than traditional publications. Some have subsequently been hired by these publications. Also, some 'traditional' journalists who have started blogging have enjoyed the instant feedback that they get from their posts, helping them to shape their articles not just on journalistic research, but on feedback from an earlier article. [Let's face it, how many times have you silently, but quite vehemently, cursed or praised a magazine or newspaper article, yet not picked up the phone or written a letter?]. The Six Apart guys' view was that blogging wouldn't supplant traditional journalism, but complement it. A refreshingly modest view from a traditionally over-hyped sector.

The debate rages about blogging's importance. There is a certain 'dear diary', self-obsession stigma felt by the public at large, which prevents widespread adoption of blogging in its current form, but with the advent of 'moblogging' (blogging from your mobile - with pics), I suspect it's only a matter of time before blogs become as natural and commonplace as family photo albums.

Related links:-
Time Magazine's blogs
VNU Publishing's blogs
Searchblog (John Batelle: ex-Wired editor)
Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Silicon Valley news