Blogging and Web 2.0 : What 100 Aussies Think

Filed as Uncategorized on November 23, 2006 5:44 pm

I asked 10 of my Aussie associates to each ask 10 of their associates/friends (that’ll be 100 in all) – and ask them simply what they thought of blogging and Web 2.0 – did it register with them? What first came to mind? What were their thoughts?

These are ordinary Aussies, some small business owners, some active online and some who couldn’t give a rats arse about the Internet.

Okay. The responses both surprised me but they really shouldn’t have.

Blogging: online diaries, journals, clutter, unreliable, Dear Weblog: I farted twice last night, wannabe journalists.

Web 2.0: Bubble 2.0, Bullshit 2.0, weird business names (gotta agree there), mash potatoes (I’m presuming it’s mash-up), $2 companies.

My favorite response was:

Web 2 Ohhh: a 3am xanax-induced brainstorming session that ends up popping out a brand-spanking new flashy, snazzy, shiny “Web 2.0″ business with all the business and marketing plans all thoroughly completed on pizza-stained napkins … revenue yet to be determined.”

Obviously I picked those that were negative or made fun of it all but that was because 80% were just like that and more.

I get the feeling from my totally unscientific survey that mainstream Australians don’t give a crap about blogging and web 2.0.

Sure there are the early adopters, but I’m a little surprised because I see Australians at the forefront, or close enough to it, of blogging. Think: Duncan Riley, Darren Rowse, Yaro Starak and a host of others I’m too lazy to research and name – but trust me: they’re out there.

It’s a shame because especially in blogging’s case I think it is the ultimate and most cost-effective marketing tool out there for small business – and most small business are short on marketing dollars.

Maybe it’s time to take out the “echo chamber” (hasn’t that become a cliche/buzzword of late) to the backyard and bury it deep and start reaching out to the masses.

Mainstream media in Australia gives blogging and Web 2.0 token coverage at best. I don’t know why. I don’t take the argument that it’s because they see it as a threat – that’s so 2004! Heck, most mainstream media outlets have their hands in some sort of blogging.

Blogging needs to be explained better to the mainstream – the ordinary Aussie small business owner. With Web 2.0, the explanation more so.

Any Aussies reading this? Your thoughts would be welcomed. Have your say. Is blogging gaining traction in Australia or do the majority still see it as the “I ate a packet of Tim Tams last night” online diary gibberish?

Our esteemed publisher here, Matt Craven, tells me that 1.17% of the readership here comes from Australia – not much but it’s third from the top behind America – which I’m presuming takes up the vast majority.

I personally believe there are many more Aussies blogging out there, but it’s just not in our nature to self-promote … but more on that in next weeks column.

PS: For those in the know, The Ashes Day One: the Aussies whipped some pommie butts. ;-)

Martin Neumann is feverishly working on a soft launch of Small Office Herald – an online publication for Aussies working from a … small office! And thus his shameless move into writing his column about Australia and blogging from now on.

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  1. By franky posted on November 23, 2006 at 6:22 pm
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    Just a small thought about this : how many of the 55mio. blogs do know they are web2.0 ?

    And if, do they care?

    As a Belgian living in the UK I won’t comment on The Ashes Day One. Now back to watch paint dry. :P

  2. By Phil posted on November 23, 2006 at 7:45 pm
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    I work in the bicycle industry and I blog personally about cycling.

    I try to do the odd post on blogging for our industry and I know some are reading me, but when I do meet some of those folks in person they just don’t seem to grasp the concept or the marketing opportunities (my employer included) it represents, the static web page is what it’s all about for them and they can’t understand the need to have a conversation with their customers. But you already know more about that than I do so I don’t need to go on about it………

    My take? While there are a few Aus blogging evangelists, I think they operate in a bubble of sorts, for them it’s all about blogging for bucks and I think that distorts the possibilities and does a disservice to blogging by making it sound like some kind of hype beast, I think this needs to be toned down. Sorry boys but you all sound like snake oil salesmen and folks recoil from that.

    I agree with burying that attitude and agree that we need to promote blogging as a highly cost effective (practically free) tool for marketing their product or business.

    I think we’re at least a couple of years away from blogging being on the forefront of anything, although the Murdoch press is doing a fine job of educating their readers on the conversation, hopefully a few of those folks commenting will see the potential and go on from there…..

    This is my first comment here so I’ll also take the opportunity to say that I always enjoy reading you Martin.

  3. By Yaro posted on November 24, 2006 at 1:13 am
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    News.com.au is my news portal of choice for Australia and I was pleased to see them make use of blogs and include links to digg and del.ico.us on internal articles. At least they see the traffic potential of social media.

    While mainstream Australia may have no idea what web 2.0 is, the people that should know about are making use of it, which is indication that it will penetrate to the mainstream, assuming it ever does anywhere in the world – i.e. We find a way to make it mainstream consumable…

  4. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on November 24, 2006 at 5:19 am
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    Heather Green of Blogspotting did a similar exercise a while back in the U.S. and came up with more or less the same results — though the language was not so ripe as the Aussie one, of course.

    However, we know that a majority of people do go online to the big retail sites, like Amazon, and buy stuff. They’ll also use Google to search things out. But 95% will never think of going to a blog for anything, unless it’s a family one or by a friend.

    I use Google Alerts a lot and they are very helpful, though a bit slow sometimes. Recently they added Blog Alerts to the Web ones. Comparing the two is depressing for the blogging case. Most of the blog stuff just copies whole from the media or consists of wild speculation and badly written copy. I hardly bother to read it now.

    Those of us who use blog software for a commercial purpose, need to disguise the blogginess of what they’re doing and discover new ways to present their material — a lengthy process we’re currently going through.

  5. By Martin Neumann posted on November 24, 2006 at 7:51 am
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    Franky – Bets on they don’t care one bit. But then again, many in our game don’t really see a blog as very web 2.0ish – the first thought that comes to mind when thinking web 2.0 is some ajaxy app that brings together, shares people – again a blog is on the edge of that.

    Yaro … good to see you around this joint. How’s Canada treating you? I hear it’s cold in that part of the world. ;-)

    Yes, I’ve noticed that news.com.au is playing the web2.0 game quite well. Other not as well.

    Actually I’ve just spent a pack of hours last weekend collecting just about every Aussie media outlets web presence. It’s a good way to keep an eye on any trends as they deal with mainstream Australia, so any advances on their sites/blogs speaks volumes about where things are heading.

    I still think we need the mainstream media to write-up in-depth articles on blogging and web 2.0 issues (especially in the business media) – not just puff pieces which I’m still mainly seeing. Man, I’m still seeing basic how to buy a domain name or set up a brochure website in magazines you’d expect more from.

    One of my goals, mate, in ’07 – build some solid relationships with a few selected journo’s and get them in the loop.

  6. By Martin Neumann posted on November 24, 2006 at 8:12 am
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    Hey John – us Aussies don’t beat around the bush. ;-)

    With blogging, I think it will (or is already) fragmenting. You’ll always have the diary types. Then you’ll have the business types (marketing tools) and finally the blogs as pure businesses … eg. like magazines ;-)

    The latter is all about branding and rising above the clutter – there’ll be a handful of successes but many failures – just like in traditional publishing. I’m sure you’re seeing this happening just as I am.

    Yeah, you have a point there with the Google alerts – you really see the difference between traditional media and blogs at times.

    I don’t want to be seen as no grammar and spelling police but I see so much bad writing (I’m sure I do it as well – it’s called lazy writing). When you’re just doing it for yourself and there’s no editor and paycheck over your shoulder you tend to get lazy.

    I prefer to see the majority of blogs as opinionated columnists rather than news outlets – those that do go for the newsy type just have to get more professional and deliver their own content (I’m talking to myself here, I think;)

    “disguise the blogginess” – it sounds bad and sad to do that but essentially you’re right. For me, trying to gain a mainstream audience in Australia the term blogging is rarely used. That’s just plain common marketing sense. My research tells me not many Aussies see blogs as “real” media so I gotta go with the flow.

    For me, these day, I see blogging software (WordPress) as simply a publishing platform. As you can see on my upcoming site I’m tweaking it more into a traditional CMS with sections and cutting down of the blogging clutter. I’ve still got a ways to go with though. ;-)

    More importantly, John – The Ashes: 40 | Love ;-)

  7. By franky posted on November 24, 2006 at 10:14 am
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    I am no Aussie, but never really managed it to shuttup either. So some more thoughts on this. No cricket on right at the moment, so bear with me if this comment has lots of different angles.

    Bloggers are opinionated (at least some are) and I’ld rather call them columnists. But then again, journalists are opinionated as well and every newspaper/MSM has his own political touch.

    What differentiates a blogger from a journalist? The paycheck? Or the freedom to write an only 2 lines long news entry and not having to write x words to fill up spot y?
    Times are changing. Those classical strategies already find their way in blog networks. And soon lobbies will manage laws where bloggers HAVE TO disclose the origin, especial if the blogger makes a nice paper from his website and blogs news (On a side note, why do portals such as computer communities in Germany have to disclose, but bloggers not? If the webmaster doesn’t want to disclose, he has to become member of the (freetime) journalist association)

    Blogs still are a hype. Wait a second before you shoot me!
    I hate it when I find most (technical) information about upcoming Windows Vista/IE7/Whatevah on a blog and have to really dig my way to find something specific. I much more [sic] prefer the old style portals, especially in that area, yes a genuine CMS with different corners such as technical info, discuss area (forums), tips, problems aso.
    What do I have in our times? A blog with some entries. If it is web two’ish, I got an API to retrieve information and if I am lucky a bug tracker and a wiki.
    Hallo? Why not first build a CMS with one database. It would make the search function a lot more agreable on mentionned platforms. Later you can provide me with an API.
    Yes, they/many use lots of gradients and ajax, two things I actually like, but the usability of many of those blogs/collections of apps has become horrible because now I need to search many platforms before I have found what I wanted. Sometimes I even have to register to browse a bug tracker. WTF?

    I think you get what I try to explain. I consider myself a geek, borderline nerd and am involved/member of many technical/IT communities. Many of my online friends blog personally (the diary/diarrhea style), but contribute to many CMS portals/communities.
    They don’t give a rat’s [insert here back body part] about a platform being web two’ish, gamma or web fifty seven’ish. They just want it to be simple, usable and contain as much information as possible for their needs. If it looks nice, cool but gradients and ajax are not that important to most users. The corner we/you hang out in (those who doubt about a blog being two’ish) are maybe 1% (OK, I’ll be nice 2%) of the web.
    We use buzz words, and even think we understand them. For the main stream user (would this be MSU?), those words have no meaning and the answers to your survey have proven this. And no you nor I were surprised by them. We know it. They just want a working web, nothing else.

    But BMW Z5, now that would be a buzz word everyone would understand. Web2.0? Do I have to download software to update the internet?
    I see this non-stop at my personal blog. A while I have plugged pretty web two’ish apps. My lurkers are mainly people who also fart twice. Do you think they care about those nice apps?
    Do you think they actually know Photobucket is Web2.0 (me love some labelling)? No.
    But what they do know is that Photobucket is easier when they want to insert a picture on their blog than flickr. We geeks, we might drool about the technical beauty of flickr but Mike, Marc and Mathilda they really don’t care. Actually do they understand what tags are?

    Ok, I’ll finish my web2.0 fart here. But I think you get what I mean.
    And as for the language : I blog/comment in my fourth language. I never wanted to be a journalist either, but am still opinionated.
    I read blogs, not because of their grammatical correctness [sic] but because of their opinions. ;-)

  8. By John Evans (SYNTAGMA) posted on November 24, 2006 at 10:56 am
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    Martin: 40/Love first game, doesn’t mean a lot. It happened last year too, and England won. I’d hate to have to watch you eat humble pie, old cobber. That would be painful. ;-)

  9. Daily ClerksDecember 1, 2006 at 12:51 am