Magazine

Cheers And Sneers For The Blogosphere


Our May 2 Cover Story, "Blogs will change your business," also launched our blog, Blogspotting.net, on BusinessWeek Online. This week's Readers Report includes edited excerpts of posts from Blogspotting visitors commenting on our Cover Story.

Your encomium "Blogs will change your business" neglected to address the classic conundrum: If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Only in this case, it is the obverse: If 9 million blogs make sounds, does anyone listen? In the real world a few hundred -- maybe a couple thousand at best -- say something sufficiently interesting to draw a reasonable number of hits. As for the remaining 8,999,000, they are relegated to the blogtopia of taking in each other's electronic laundry!

Paul N. Wenger

West Hartford, Conn.

For a consultant such as myself, blogging is the ultimate marketing tool: It's cheap. Five bucks a month to Typepad.com, $19 a year for a user-friendly domain name, $150 one-time cost for technical help making the blog pretty, and $100 to have it listed with about 100 search engines. Immediate course correction is possible at 3 a.m. when I realize what isn't working but what might work.

And it works. Out there in cyberspace, those needing my services find me. An added plus: It's fun. Before blogging, I came to dread marketing so much that I started hunting for a full-time job.

Jane Genova

North Haven, Conn.

To what problem is Weblogging the answer? No problem in reality, and every problem in the minds of its boosters. Haven't we seen this trend before -- in push media, home-page building sites, portals, and viral marketing? In each case any similar activity was subtly redefined to reinforce the apparent rise of the vogue phenomenon. But the totality of communication cannot be shoehorned into the form of short, reverse diary entries based on links, with added comments. This format is unlikely to suit corporate communications, internal knowledge-sharing, organizational home pages, or even news publications. As for Weblogging chief executive officers, much as I enjoy Jonathan Schwartz's posts, is this really what we want our corporate leaders spending hours a day doing?

There are a number of important characteristics and elements of Weblogging, including ease of use, contextualized linking, visibility, structure and malleability, syndication, trackback, and comments. These were skated over in your piece, but if they are properly understood and carefully harnessed, they present tremendous possibilities for information-, opinion-, and knowledge-sharing -- and for journalism. However, in the blizzard of journalistic hype, these subtle forms they create are being lost.

Nico Macdonald

London

I am a longtime subscriber to your magazine, and this is probably the only time I am sending a complaint. The headline on the cover is about blogs. You devote numerous pages of the magazine to articles about blogs. However, I could find nothing to explain what a blog is. I assume it must have something to do with computers. I still have no idea what a blog is.

Lawrence J. Coleman

Dallas

I am in the middle of creating content for a course on Advanced Business Strategy & Competitive Dynamics, and your article arrives in my in-box. I believe that there are no coincidences, and information about blogging is now going to be included in this course. Thanks.

Posted by: Geoff Thomas at

April 22 11:32 AM

Blogs are temporary, and the hype associated with them will probably disappear during 2006. There are several reasons why they will not last, but the biggest one will be the movement toward mindfulness.

Posted by: Rey Carr at

April 22 07:53 PM

I sincerely hope that "citizen journalism" doesn't minimize or diminish the valuable editorial and journalistic job that writers, editors, and publishers do for readers like me. Your professionalism and journalistic standards are your value-added. I'm afraid that citizen journalism will be "junk journalism," filled with opinions, rumors, lies, falsehoods, and unreliable information.

Personally, I don't want to spend hours at my computer sifting through that stuff. BusinessWeek and other reputable publishers research good, reliable sources, sift through and cull information, and present it in well-written articles like yours.

Posted by: R. Myers at

April 24 12:18 AM

Nice story -- more informative than you probably intended, though. I followed it online, connecting to links, as suggested.

Got to Tuesday 9:12 p.m. and the iPodder link (http://www.ipodder.org/). Woke me up, pretty lady, but I learned a lesson -- I don't think I will be visiting blog sites from the office anytime soon.

Posted by: Frank Herbert at

April 24 12:59 PM

Here's how your cover story could become a curse:

1. CEO/chief marketing officer reads BusinessWeek cover story. Wow, do we have bloggers? Who are they and what are they saying?

2. Chief marketing officer gets order: We need a policy.

3. E-mails fly. Is blogging giving our secrets away? Are we under attack? Do we have a policy?

4. Lawyers enter. Depending on the regulatory environment of the company (drug companies vs. publishers), company receives stern warnings about the hazzards of being in the publishing biz.

5. Managers with profit-and-loss responsibilities read memos. What's this doing to our productivity? I thought we reduced our marketing budget. Cut it out.

6. Blogging reverts to public relations and marketing, or maybe sales. Goes stale. Is forgotten.

Posted by: Donald E. L. Johnson

at April 25 03:14 PM

What you nail is that blogs have become a killer app for public relations and marketing. But it's less clear that they are effective for internal communications. For that, the blog format is very much overhyped, though applying the values of constructive media is a good start.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at

April 26 03:07 AM

I thought your article was well-researched and thought out. To be honest, I've never even looked at BusinessWeek with any intention of buying it. But I saw the cover and had to buy. I blog, and as a Web designer, I incorporate blogs into many of my client sites. I recommend blogging to many of my clients for various reasons -- quick updating of their site whenever they want, [generally resulting in] better search-engine standings. And fresh content encourages return visitors.

As for companies finding out they have underground bloggers or making policies about blogging...that's going to happen. Bloggers just need to use common sense in choosing what they write.

Posted by: Kim Smith at

April 29 03:47 PM


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