The revolution is being blogged

26 07 2008

Trevor Cook is a blogger I admire. He’s erudite, successful, well-travelled, and always speaks sense in his eclectic blog Corporate Engagement. Trevor straddles the worlds of PR, journalism and social media, which gives him a perspective I can relate to — for a start, these silly spats about “old” and “new” media are tredious, as Trevor has written many times.

Trevor is also provocative, another quality I admire; and he is especially so in his latest piece for the ABC’s Unleashed, The revolution may not be blogged but not in his argument, which is just good common sense from a realist. It’s provocative in his use of others to support his argument.

The premise is that blogging might not be living up to the promise of “dewy-eyed” advocates like Shel Israel and Robert Scoble, who wrote Naked Conversations. In making the argument, Trevor references posts by Shel Israel and Darren Rowse, pulling quotations that seem to show that they, too, think blogging might not be all Israel, for one, cracked it up to be.

“There seems to be a growing sense that social media just ain’t what it used to be that it too, is starting to emerge as yet another wasteland for product pushers and shameless self promoters.” – Shel Israel, Is social media becoming a vast wasteland?

” …when I first started blogging (it’ll be six years ago later in the year) there was a real community spirit among bloggers … (now) there is almost a bigger focus upon blogging as a business tool and the idea of making money online in general.” – Darren Rowse, Has Blogging Lost Its Relational Focus?

Trevor doesn’t link to the original posts nor does he say that Israel is commenting on Rowse’s post and continues, “Is this really the case? … I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I hope not.” And Rowse concludes, “I don’t think that relational blogging is dead at all, but perhaps it’s just a little harder to find?”

That cavil out of the way, how can anyone disagree with Trevor’s premise that blogging won’t live up to the self-help-book hype that Israel and Scoble put into it. How could it? Naked Conversations is a book I would never recommend to a client because it gives prospective bloggers the impression that with a blog they could throw away the marketing and PR budget. Blog, my son, and riches will follow, they say. I have a similar issue with Groundswell — it’s more sober but light on case studies of failure.

Blogging might have plateaued but what does that mean? Surely all media plateau.

The mistake many of the promient blogging advocates have made — and it’s something I think Australian consultants still do all the time — is to suggest that blogging is easy. It isn’t. Not everyone is a writer. So many times I’ve read that it doesn’t matter if you can’t write as long as you’re authentic. What nonsense that has always been. Blogging tools are cheap or free but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be able to put out a good read. If we gave people free guitars, would they all make music others would want to hear?

Sure, blogging might be going a bit corporate. I remember in the early days of the web usenet groups were full of people bemoaning the sullying of the web with corporate websites — this back in the day when publishers were putting out books of websites, so small was the web. How frustrated now would you be by a cinema that didn’t serve up listings online or by researching a product without a website?

So once again I find myself in agreement with Trevor, even if I think he should have been more forthcoming when he co-opted other bloggers in his argument.

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One response

27 07 2008
shel israel

I’ve never been called dewy eyed before and I sort of like it. Naked Conversations clearly stated that it was intended as the case FOR business blogging. We wrote as blog champions and not from a balanced perspective. For some sense of balance we interviewed Trevor Cook, among others. The primary argument is that conversations are more valuable than monologues. We argued that marketing dollars are being wasted in advertising & PR programs that continue to be expensive even as the results get increasingly less effective. Today the corporate trend is to take some small percentage of those marketing dollars and reallocating them to social media programs. This is what we advocated and it is happening, albeit more slowly than we forecast. This issue seems to me quite separate from the lost of collegiality among bloggers the issue that Darren and I addressed last week.

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