Les Blogs 2.0

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I attended Les Blogs 2.0, the sequel of last year event organized by Six Apart, during the past two days in Paris. I'm not going to do an extensive report, this is just a very informal (and hardly written, merely captured) recollection of my notes and impressions.

First the name and chosen tag for those of us doing tagging: lesblogs really makes me think of, err, blogs of women talking mostly about, you know, women. But that might just be me, English as a foreign language and my nasty mind (just joking, Loic).

Overall the organization was excellent (notably the location, time keeping, duration), panelists were diverse (as the subjects) and generally great, the first night event really fun and the networking very good (this is one of those events where the spirit is perfect for that and the attendees form a great crowd).
On the so-so side:
- I think there were vast shifts at times where the talks ranged from comprehensible for the layman (and boring for those in the know) to a florilege of acronyms and nicknames for A-bloggers and über geeks. This is the consequence of having such a generic title ("Blogs") that attracts a wide, therefore heterogeneous audience.
- The food was, well, OK. Good quality, but petits fours don't really do for lunch.
- Hadn't I seen the price tag for the WiFi access, I would not have mentionned it. But I found the service utterly annoying (in its user interface, just here to show the provider's logo each time you login, which for me was about every five minutes), unstable or just unreachable most of the time. Damn, what is it that we still can't get WiFi working in a room in 2005? We have that for hundreds of people in our internal University, with probably 1/10th of the access points that were available here, and It Just Works.

OK, here's a copy/paste from my text editor (and off to bed)...

Scoble & Israel

Conversation going bigger and bigger, moving out of privileged circles.
Scoble: videoblog Microsoft, 2.8M unique visitors last week, without any advertising except word of mouth from his blog.
Keys: Passion and authority. TechCrunch didn't exist 6 months ago. Don't be too cautious, your readers will correct you. You need to know how far you can go until your readers push you back. Involve your readership (dig them on Technorati and alikes, particularly involve those who are not famous in the blogosphere because that'll make a difference to them). Read, join other conversations (at least for a while).
Scaling limited by lack of time.
Scoble: 743 RSS feeds (reads once every week).

Corporate blogging

Dias, L'Oreal: learn from our customers -> have them talk. The blog is the last step. We're at the beginning, it's a source of information. The Vichy case was a great example and there will be others. Internal blogs around topics (like SAP implementation), or communities (HR). Friends, part of this friendship, real people behind the products (the people who make the brand).

IBM: 4000 internal blogs (seen as a collaboration tool, just another tool among 6/7 others), 30 official ext blogs (give a voice to our thought leaders, conversations with potential clients and investors), don't know how many employees have ext blogs. Guidelines increased the number of bloggers, need to be bottom-up. Mentioned Michel-Edouard Leclerc and the food crisis as the most beautiful example of crisis communication.

Skype: conversation means you can't broadcast, you have to listen to people. Skype is a very wide spread organization, the internal blog is a great way to find out what's happening everywhere in teams. Externally they have a mix of customer channels, not only the blog (and the one English blog - Share Skype - is a limitation for non-English speakers). Don't assume too much (like bloggers are early adopters: the most dynamic group of Skype users are over 50 [err, is there a law that forbid elders to be early adopters?]).

Martin Varsavsky, Fon: didn't spend a dime in marketing and advertising, use their own blog (then others' blogs through word of mouth). [I disagree on the idea that they didn't spend a dime, they simply didn't throw money out in traditional advertising like during the good pre-bubble days, but their presence here as a sponsor of the event, the lunch, the stickers etc. don't come for free, they ARE spending money on marketing and ads, just less and differently.] Kiss Cool moment when someone in the audience challenged him about censoring comments and deleting a post on his blog (he didn't do a telling job at defending himself, other than saying it's a personal blog, it's difficult to follow up for a CEO, and he does as he wants on his own site - quite a shift compared to the "blog cool, blogosphere good" attitude from minutes ago).

Someone asked about the ROI of blogs: hard to say, to measure into figures. Talking long term. ROI of the traditional ad world is hard to tell too (not focused, blogs are much more focused). How to measure something you couldn't do before? Move metrics from eyeballs to credibility, from hits to references. [I would say that you can still measure things like your search engine positioning, and attention through links and references, compared to your corporate/marketing site. If you can't measure a ROI, you can probably do some relative comparisons.]

Attention is one of the most expensive things, and it is freely traded in the blogosphere ; give value to your constituencies, they'll give you attention.

Mena Trott : people make comments on the backchannel that they'd never do face-to-face. It's the same on blogs. I'm a blogger and I'm afraid of bloggers. There's no point in arguing with someone in their weblogs comments. [Another Kiss Cool moment about one guy (Mena called him an asshole), dotBen on IRC, Ben Metcalfe in meatspace, who basically said there are people who disagree with you and you have to put up with them, don't be naive, don't patronize - I think it boils down to a person's ability to have a conversation with someone else. See also: http://www.mopsos.com/blog/archives/000268.html]

RSS panel

NewsGator: you're not going to read/hear about RSS in the next 18 months, it's going to become transparent (no one's talking about SMTP). Subscription concept. Feed content going to generate content on the site (rather than site content generating feed content).

Videoblogging : people creating art. Mmmkay, why not, what's art? TV is boring anyway ;-).

Hugh McLeod sez "Real people don't scale." [Now you know why you can't cope with reading all those RSS feeds, there for machines anyway.]


Ben Hammersley: Dell Hell - Jeff Jarvis has a huge audience - a low level employee screwed-up, a company is made of people, etc. [But Jeff Jarvis didn't blame a low-level employee, he blamed the company, the CEO! Had he blamed the poor little guy, he would not have got that traction on his story from his audience.]

Ben Hammersley was, hands down, the "clou du spectacle". I read one of his previous presentations, and could just picture him doing it on stage. It was the most energizing moment of the whole conference. And yes, he was wearing a kilt. [I wish I knew how to do that instead of boring PPT prezos. Power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts pointlessly.]

We go, as a society, through ups and downs, but generally up in the long run. Technology is going up and up and up. Information Technology builds upon itself, and facilitates every other type of progress. Moore's (chips density doubling every 18 months) and Kryder's laws (Hard Drives density doubling every 13 month). 2025 = You = $100.
The Octet (and the Suits responses):
1. Information wants to be free (Copyright)
2. Zero distance (Borders)
3. Mass amateurisation (Censorship)
4. More is much more (Network Blocking)
5. True Names (Identity cards and database)
6. Viral behavior (More network blocking)
7. Everything is personal (Everything is trackable)
8. Ubiquitous computing (No privacy)
But Technology dies? A decision point. Unstopped this new technological progress will continue. The stopping is a social thing. Society is changing now. Blogging is not one of those, it's all of those things. Beginning of the internet = First days of the renaissance. You/We are the actors, we have the chance of being able to do it, and the responsibility of doing it right. Keep on doing it and fight people who are trying to stop you doing that.

There were lots of good points at the end about Asia, and the fact that there is a huge active world apart that we don't see because of the cultural and language barriers. I was appalled by some comments that bloggers should somehow force democracy upon countries like China. It's the typical belief that you can "bomb democracy" (see the efficiency of that method in Iraq). Likewise, one can't just "blog democracy" upon a foreign country, this is a process that must be done from the inside by the locals, at their own pace (this is just what history tells us). Some good comments from a guy who was in Tunisia for the SMSI congress and said that he didn't risk to be beaten or killed but the Tunisians who helped him did, so we should be aware of the consequences that our behavior (and beliefs) can have on foreigners who do not enjoy our level of freedom (back to the Romans, in a way).