June 29, 2005

Blogging: An Authentic Conversation (BARC)

Blogging is all about conversations and it fascinates me the number of conferences about the subject tend to fall back into a broadcast rather than conversational model. BARC (as Lloyd has already acronym-ised it) was set up to be one of these but occasionally morphed into the other. More of that later...

Order of the day was two panels with three speakers each, chaired by Steve Bowbrick of Webmedia, who did a good job of keeping the event flowing.

Is blogging the new communications paradigm?

Sabrina Dent

of Mink Media offer a resounding 'No' to the question via a quick overview of her experience of blogging, personal and professional (via the travel blog www.wandlust.com)

Of most interest was her quote from a book called Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, which described the behaviour of bees when they find new food sources and how they communicate this back to the hive. The more vigourous and exciting the dance, the more bees visit that location. An excellent analogy for the virtuality that is the blogosphere.

Rafael Behr

who is the Observer's online Editor, also offered a No to the question. He outlined the journalistic experience online via the recent LA Times experiment with a wiki, to the blogosphere's antagonism towards journalism in general.

His three points about what journalists thought about the internet (together with his impression of Powerpoint slides) were inciteful (and probably insightful too):

  1. It's Alchemy! - everything is cool and you can turn base metal into gold simply by it being online. - this is bollocks - bogus and patronising to readers - online polls and red button for the sake of it.
  2. You don't need people to be close to a printing press - easier distribution simply by being online - this is all about revenue - purchase and advertising, which is not a model that currently works well on the Internet
  3. You can reconnect / bond with your readers - the big conversation is online and that's where you want to be as a journalist - the Main stream media is often hated online and thought to be disingenuous towards blogs - journos and power are in bed together

What he would like to see in the future - importance of human aggregators or editorial skills coming to the fore, and the emergence of a subscription model...

Mike Beeston

of Fjord offered an historical perspective which constructed an excellent argument about links being the change and not blogs per se. The importance being the ability to connect information and hold conversations in near real time across vast distances and disparate people.

Nice little model of conversation - private (email), semi-public (RSS / Nokia lifeblog), Public (web).

Felt that blogging had the potential of huge change and disruption, if enough people are fed up enough to pay attention. In a business sense brands are not listening and need to et better at using the technology.


centred around the impact of the 'new wave' of blogging tools such as Yahoo and MSN Space.

Things to note:

  • ideas regarding trust, prescence and the behaviour / etiquette online - communities become self-policing
  • blogs have been geeky and therefore cool - as move to mainstream will lose this
  • blogging as journalism simply reflects the real world - it is not a self-contained system
  • Presence is likely to be more about mobile devices and communication to create a sense of identity - especially considering yoof culture
  • Subversion is a laugh - people want to have fun (thanks James!)

Are blogs the new voices of authority

Suw Charman

just back from San Francisco and helping to build Technorati's Live 8 pages offered a view of objectivity. If anyone has studied social science at all they would of course know this, but it was interesting to lead up to the ideas of subjectivity plus transparency and acknowledged bias somehow being perceived as more worthwhile than so called objectivity.

Words to note: Fairness, Thoroughness, transparency, accuracy

Ideas to float:

  • Personality - be authentic, offer context and agenda, which allows humans to filter and therefore the message to be understood.
  • Honesty - admit mistakes, admit gap in knowledge and if appropriate eat humble pie
  • Complexity - the mainstream media focus on sound bites. Society is more grown up than this and capable of handling complexity. Blogs through offering depth and a personal world view can engage better.

Johnnie Moore

offered a view of authority based on affirmation and the beautiful idea of, 'I am the author of my own experience' - exquisite.

Johnnie also offered a unique participatory style which encouraged contribution and was genuinely a conversation.

As I mentioned afterwards in the pub - I took notes for all the other presentations - for this I put down my pen and listened - wish I had contributed too.

Lloyd offered a brilliant reason of why he blogs, which you can hear over at his blog (not up yet) as he recorded the event (Thank you and well done).

Disruption at its best and also fascinating to watch Ceacescue's (sic) last speech...

Adriana Cronin-Lukas

of the Big Blog Company was trying to focus on the marketing mix, which was tricky given what had gone before.

Key point: Blogging + transparency = credibility

Markets are conversations - storytelling, crediiblity, personality, permanence NOT advertising.

Marketers think of internet as another channel - really its what punctures the others...

Disruption comes from blogging becuase it bypasses normal channels.

Changes dynamic of interaction - speed, amplification and lack of control.

People's attention becomes the most expensive commodity.

Quote from Sun microsystems - Andy lark "You've got to pay to play but every community has its price"... and that Sun has been authenticated more by blogging than advertising or branding could ever hope to achieve.

Two paths for marketing (promotion?):

  1. Shout louder - interruption through spyware and adware - IAB suggests in the future 25% of online ad industry will be this
  2. Genuine interaction - engagement through differentiation, innovation, presence, personality and owning the medium


- must have fallen asleep here - only thing I wrote down was:
Blogosphere immune system is attuned to deception

That is you can lie for a while but inevitably it will be found out and exposed. If that happens the damage is huge for any company.

Well those are the notes - I'll put some more comments up later...

Posted by Paul Goodison at June 29, 2005 09:54 AM | TrackBack

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