Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Support for Being Open.... Sort of

Back when I first heard the term "blog" my big reaction was "so?" I groped for a reason that this was different from what I'd done when I put up a Web site in 1998 to talk about the progression of my still-in-utero first child. I wrote weekly about my feelings, my wife's health, her growing belly, etc. (The original site is long since gone, but a family "blog" now exists.)

There were some differences. In this new "blogging" world I didn't need to worry about HTML code (though it makes some things easier) , and with a "blog" I could let other people comment as opposed to just getting emails. Are those small differences or major? I'm certainly more apt to write when I don't need to code, but that's about it. The term is hot, the tools are good, so I go along with it.

But as you may have already read, I'm not a big fan of the word and I think at a certain point, just about everything starts to look like what we now call a "blog." Then it's going to be about creating and commenting on content, not about the form it takes. That's why I like the term "Open Communications." It won't matter if it's video, audio or written text, and whether it's TiVo'd, downloaded, broadcast or sent via satellite. It'll just be content that also enables people to be part of the conversation.

Shel Holtz doesn't agree, as he noted in a quick comment on episode #101 of the podcast For Immediate Release, and neither do a few other people, though Stephen Turcotte does.

Over at AdAge.com, Simon Dumenco contends that bloggers are just writers with a cooler name. The whole article is worth a read, but I like two key points:

OK, you might argue, blogging is aesthetically a different beast -- it’s instantaneous media. (Well, since the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle, pretty much all media has had to learn how to be instantaneous.) It’s unpolished. (The best blogs I read are as sophisticated as anything old-school media publishes.) It’s voice-y. (The best old-school media I read tends to be voice-y.) It’s about opinion, not reporting. (The best reporting to come out of MacWorld in San Francisco last week was published on blogs.) It’s, well, often sloppy and reckless (and Judy Miller wasn’t?).


Ultimately, it comes down to this: In the very near future, there are only going to be two types of media people: those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those ... who can’t.

That last point is perhaps the most important. We do/will all have voices that are searchable and accessible, some are worth listening to, others are not. It's up to the news consumer to determine who is trustworthy and who isn't.

What's more, new tools will emerge to help sort through all of this and, in my opinion, this "filter" is going to become a key component of it all. As Windows Vista comes out with its built-in RSS readers, information will flow like a utility.

How to make money in this new environment is anyone's guess, and the noise will be deafening. But think about it as a big party. Small groups start to gather in the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms (ok... REALLY small groups in the bedrooms) and even on the front lawn. As a whole the party is just a lot of noise, but taken piece by piece it's a series of conversations.

The trick for businesses will be to find the right conversations and be part of them.

1 comment:

John Cass said...

To me the phrase open communication does not have the same punch as blogging. Blogging as a term is still something of a moving target. You mentioned you thought the term appears to cover more issues today, your right it does. Consumer generated media and personally produced media are all terms to describe the vast amount of content generated by consumers on the web in forums, newsgroups and lastly blogs. Content from forums shouldn't be called blogging, it isn't but at this moment in time, I use the term blog metrics to describe an entire industry of companies who monitor both blogs and forums and other sites where consumers generate content. I think blogging gets the honors because it managed to build the biggest audience and enough active proponents to get everyone else to pay attention. That may not be the best basis for choosing a word, but hey, I think the market might rule on this on.