David Weinberger about blogs (Edelman, Paris Feb. 27, 2006)

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Thanks to Guillaume du Gardier from Edelman, I had the chance to meet with David Weinberger twice on Sunday for diner and on Monday for a workshop on corporate blogging. We had interesting conversations about writing, the killing of the internet by a few big corporations (most notably the music and movie majors and their dying business model) and governments, and the right for forgiveness in the everything-goes-digital-and-online-and-searchable era. I'm glad to hear David answering the usual "what will be blogs in five years time?" question with "I don't know", because that's my answer too (though I predict that cats blogs will be written by cats, or at least with their active participation thanks to Woz and their GPS tracking devices).

Here are my rough notes from David's presentation on "what blogs are not":

  • he gave a great example of lame marketing with the so-called Juicy Fruit Blog (which is no more to illustrate what NOT to do)
  • the size of a topic matters. The Encyclopedia Britannica has 32 volumes and 65,000 topics and because of the constraints of paper, the size of a topic tells about its importance (in the eyes of the editor). Wikipedia has no space constraints and its English version has around one million topics. Wikipedia is a much better indicator of what people care about today than the E.B. (like it or not)
  • Blogs aren't about cats (that's a prejudice in the US press, in France the equivalent would be: blogs aren't about Skyblog)
  • Blogs aren't journalism. Blogosphere against journosphere. The editorial job of journals has been taken over by the blogosphere ("I read the papers through the blogosphere.")
  • Blogs aren't mass media. You'd think personalization, but 1:1 isn't one to one because one of them isn't a person (big corp -> individual)
  • The long tail is twisted (lots of related, social individuals)
  • Our blog is ourself in the public space (our body in the new public space)
  • We write badly and it's ok, it exposes more of us, you're allowed to make mistakes (it's human, adds intimacy with readers)
  • The "good enough" concept on the internet should apply to knowledge more (no need to always seek for perfection)
  • Journalists think that bloggers are narcissists, but they never make any links to other sites except for ads! On the contrary bloggers are very generous in giving lots of links-love (the net is about hyperlinks)
  • Brand < Reputation < Relationship
  • Blogs are here to stay, they're co-creation, 2-way conversations
  • "Blogging medicine: best or at least very good if taken internally". Open up some internal blogs to selected customers and partners
  • The blogosphere is a huge focus group ("a defocus group")
  • PR should be Public Relationships
  • What to do? Listen, Audit, Engage, Give up control(*) (*)Blogging policy: 1. sound like a human being 2. be a human 3. engage, don't defend 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. be transparent 10. link, link, link...
  • Make your own mistakes: your customers know more than you do! Take risks, don't be boring.
  • Do you want people to talk about you?