Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What is all the fuss about blogs?

I think it is about time that I address the issue of blogs and blogging itself.

As an information professional, you are taught to carefully review information sources by authority, relevance. You also need skills of analysis and crititcal evaluation.

The trouble with blogging is also the essence of its popularity - it is the equivalent of writing a personal journal with a powerful sense of immediacy.

The question is how do you know who or what to trust in this sphere.

Some context here is useful and Caslon Analytics, who are an Australian research and statistical company examines the blogging phenonomen - http://www.caslon.com.au/weblogprofile1.htm

In particular, the article looks at the ephemerality, the audience and the demographics of blogging.

What is the value of blogging particularly for organisations?

Ingenta's Library Newsletter, "Eye to Eye " (Issue 22@ July 2007 ) - http://eyetoeye.ingenta.com/library/issue22/insight-blogs.htm - discusses the blogging phenomenon. It identifies 10 reasons to blog:
  1. Product-based eg about a specific service or technology
  2. Role-based
  3. Activity-based
  4. Subject-based:
  5. Format-based
  6. CPD-based
  7. Tool-based
  8. Current awareness-based
  9. Observation-based
  10. Marketing and Publicity-based

For businesses, blogging is attractive in terms of reaching to a certain target, but as with method of communication and marketing, it has to be viewed in terms of the "communications mix" and a clear headed assessment of value. In some segments, blogging might be the answer. Blogging is and its value to business is examined in a Business Week article, "Social Media will change your business" - http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2008/db20080219_908252.htm - published on 20 February 2008. There is also clearly money to be made from blogging with, for intanse, the website - http://www.betterbusinessblogging.com/ - which is aimed at providing advice to businesses on blogging.

In terms of governments, blogs can be another way to reach to citizens and present a more personal view of what can be seen as bureaucratic organisations.

Currently the FCO has launched into the blogosphere with blogs from new starters, ambassadors, trade officers and the Secretary of State. It is interesting that the FCO is one of the first government departments to use blogging. I think that is partly as a counter-weight to what could be perceived as an elitist, conservative culture. If the FCO is to attract new graduates to join the organisation, then blogging is one way to reach people and present a different image.

Blogs are another way of engaging the audience and encouraging participation and that can't always be a bad thing.

Why am I blogging?

I think until blogging was developed, there was no quick and easy way or space to air your views to the world. So blogging for me is a social release, a theraputic tool and a way to actually think through my ideas.

It is as Business Week says, about power - giving power to the people. As with all other communication means, some people will take to it and others will favour other means, and some will abuse it, but that is not to knock the possibilities it affords if thought through.

I am tempted to say that I don't expect anyone to read this but that is putting down my opinions, thoughts and approach. The Blog Herald recommends Blogging for an Audience - http://www.blogherald.com/2007/08/15/blog-for-an-audience-even-if-you-have-none/ to improve your writing and your blogging ability. I think it is a question of value and authority. My question is does publishing always have to be about reading? Maybe that should be the subject of another blog!

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