Blogging as a Buzzword (or why Politicians Shouldn’t Blog)

Filed as General on June 18, 2006 9:40 pm

Aside from my first entry introducing myself, this is my first real content post and I figure I should come out swinging for the fences. I figure, cause a stir, make some powerful enemies, and then step back and wait for the counter attack. Except in this case, there won’t be a counter-attack because we’re talking about people who view blogging as a buzzword and don’t truly understand it or how to use it. They’ll never Technorati their names or their opponents and they’ll never find themselves in Google’s blog search, because they don’t understand effective blogging.

I’m talking about politicians, of course, and to a certain extent, the mainstream media. Now, I’m into politics. Big time. I have a political blog that is just about as snarky and conspiratorial as they come. But I’m not talking about political bloggers. I’m talking about the folks who like to hold the blog banner high and tell their constituents or television viewers, newspaper readers or radio listeners that they blog and therefore they should be taken seriously as next-gen, cutting edge people. They have it together. They are on the front line. Yet, they don’t understand conversation.

Conversation, you know, is what blogging is about. It’s why writers write. At the end of the day, having a reader challenge our positions means we’re making a difference and we’re interacting and sharing ideas. That is all blogging is. In fact, I think I’m going to boycott the word “blog” for 30 days in the near future because the main stream just does not understand what a blog is.

A blog is not WordPress. It’s not Movable Type. It’s not trackbacks or pingbacks. It’s really not Adsense or YPN. It’s not themes or CSS. At its very heart, it’s conversation and all the other stuff is just the means to the end.

Politicians these days love to tell voters to read their blog but when you go looking for the blog, all that can be found is a bullet-pointed marketing promo. There is no conversation. Comments are turned off to prevent a public-relations nightmare should a supporter of the opponent decide to take the politician to task. Politicians don’t like to be taken to task. They don’t like to look bad.

Case in point: Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is running for the Senate in Maryland to replace Sen. Paul Sarbanes who is retiring. While I like Steele and intend to vote for him (giving you some kind of hint at my politics), I visited his campaign website the other day. On his site, he has a section called the “Steele Blog”. Sadly, when an entry is viewed it looks no different than any other page on his site and there is no way for voters to comment. There is no conversation. There is no blog. Naturally, I fired off an email to the Steele campaign calling them out on this lack of conversation. And naturally, I have not heard anything back.

Bottom line, in political and “old media” circles, it is going to be important to really truly understand blogging and what it is. It is conversation and no one likes one-sided conversation.

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  1. By Daniel 'The Wig Man' Vovak posted on June 18, 2006 at 11:42 pm
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    I am a Republican candidate opposing Michael Steele, and wonder why you would not have mentioned his primary on Sept. 12, 2006. Steele has never won an election (without coattails) in his life. Certainly a primary is a good way of evaluating him.

  2. By James Silvester posted on June 19, 2006 at 2:48 am
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    Have you ever heard of Nick Griffin? he’s the leader of the British National Party (United Kingdom). He has his own blog, gets thousands of comments from his supporters, can see it at

    Just an example of a few.


  3. By Aaron posted on June 19, 2006 at 7:01 am
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    James: I would say he’s an exception. Most politicians do NOT allow comments on their “blogs”.

    Daniel: I wonder why I’ve never heard of you.

  4. By James Silvester posted on June 19, 2006 at 7:34 am
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    Your probably right. The comments are moderated though, due to fierce opposition.

  5. By Matt posted on June 19, 2006 at 10:19 pm
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    Better than the Minneapolis Mayor – who deletes any comment critical of his administration. :-/

  6. By TheShu posted on June 21, 2006 at 6:23 am
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    Perhaps you should take a look at Greensboro, NC City Councilperson Sandy Carmany’s blog. Nothing fancy in the design but it is very well-written and informative and yes, she does take and respond to comments.