Twitter Lowers The Bar For Blogging


It’s only a matter of time before people start to Twitter in the bathroom. If you don’t know what Twitter is (either because you don’t follow online technology or you’ve been locked in a sock drawer), that IS as bad is it sounds, but not in the way you probably think.

If you do follow online technology, you know that Twitter is the anywhere, anytime, instant publishing solution that lowers the threshold for publishing about yourself several orders of magnitude below blogging, such that there is nothing you can possibly be doing that is too mundane, private, or uninteresting that it isn’t worth posting on Twitter. Use of Twitter recently exploded in the geekosphere at the SXSW conference, leading to much pontificating on the existential meaning of Twitter, i.e. I Twitter, therefore I am.

I think Twitter is a well-executed application, which, like all technologies, is only good or bad in how it is used. What strikes me about Twitter is that it appears to be accentuating the natural exhibitionist and voyeuristic tendencies of avid blog writers and readers. While blog posts have traditionally been short, Twitter pushes this trend to the extreme, accentuating the attention deficit disorder that the web naturally fosters.
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Do Online Publishers Do Enough To Correct Inaccuracies?


In traditional newspaper publishing, errors are typically corrected the next day, in small print, in a small section inside the paper that lists such errors. Most bloggers have adopted the convention of the “update,” with has many similarities to the print publisher approach. An update is typically an addendum placed at the end of the original post that lists any new information, including corrections. But the original post, including the title, typically remains unchanged.

In an online world driven by search engines that create permanent — and easy to find — records of every inaccuracy, is this practice sufficient?
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Could Blogging Adopt A Paid Content Business Model?


A friend of mine, Sahar Sarid, posted an interesting assertion about the future of blog business models (Sahar has an elegant mind, and his new blog Conceptualist is sure to be a great read):

Newspapers – Free (or no business model) (pre 1704), Advertising (1704, The Boston News-Letter), Subscription (1893, Frank Munsey)
Radio – Free (or no business model), Advertising (1909, Charles Herrold)), Subscription (XM, Sirius)
Television – Free (or no business model), Advertising (1941), Subscription (Cable TV, HBO, DirecTV, Showtime)
Blogging – Free (or no business model), Advertising (Federated Media, Adsense), ……. ?It’s… inevitable.

Sahar’s historical analysis is certainly compelling. If other media ultimately adopted a paid content model, why not blogging? I agree that there is fairly strong case that some blogs may ultimately be able to adopt a paid model, but there is an equally strong case why most blogs will not.
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Can Brands Really Compete As Content Creators?


Sure, Dove captured everyone’s attention with its Evolution “viral” video, which, like a good old-fashioned expose, revealed the manipulation behind images of “beauty.” This trend of brands creating content for the web dates back to the short films that BMW commissioned in 2001 and 2002 (and I’m sure further back than that, depending on how you define the trend).

Now that every brand is jumping on the bandwagon to be a content creator to compete in the intensifying war over consumer attention, you have to wonder whether brands can really compete as content creators, lodged between traditional “professional” content creators and the newly empowered army of “users” generating content.
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What Gets You Worked Up Enough To Blog About It?


Writing this weekly column for the Blog Herald has been a new challenge for me — I’m not used to blogging “on demand.” On my own blog, Publishing 2.0, I just waiting until something gets me sufficiently worked up that the blog post practically writes itself. Because of that dynamic, I also have a pile of unfinished posts that just petered out — if the momentum runs out, I typically find the post wasn’t worthwhile anyway. I’ve also gone days without posting because nothing got me sufficiently worked up (in the old days they used to call it writers block).

So I had to write this column today, and nothing really topical for the Blog Herald had me stirred — so what to do? Well, for one thing I can raise the core issue of blogging motivation, and ask the pointed question — what gets you worked up enough to blog about it? I can also posit for comments and reaction that the best blogging comes from the gut (although it’s also well informed by the brain).

Beyond that, I’m going to take the liberty of running through a number of brief items that got me worked up today, any one of which could have been a full blown blog post, but the point is to explore what the seed of a good post looks like. So here goes.
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Should Bloggers Create Commercial Content?


The traditional “Chinese Wall” in publishing stipulates that ads need to be clearly labeled as ads and that editorial content is completely independent, i.e. not paid for. The classic “advertorial,” with content that appears to be editorial but was actually bought and paid for, always walked a fine line by merely using a small slug at the top that said “Special Advertising Section.” That system worked well enough in a world of mass advertising, with one-size-fits-all messages. But we’ve already seen in this new era of micro niche marketing that marketing messages need to be tailored for individual relevancy — it’s a big open question who will create all of this new marketing content, because traditional ad agencies aren’t set up to do it.

Bloggers, almost by definition, create their own niche communities — they create content, readers comment, other bloggers link — it’s a deeply symbiotic relationship where participants get to know each other. There’s a direct connection between bloggers and their communities — so who better than the blogger to create marketing messages that are relevant and interesting for their communities?
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Can A Big Company Really Blog?


There’s an interesting article in The Economist about CEOs attending the Davos World Economic Forum being encouraged to blog (the theme this year is “The Shifting Power Equation”). On the face of it, this makes about as much sense as the CEOs being encouraged to slam dance at the raging party that Google guys Sergei and Larry are going to throw.

But, to get back to the question, is blogging really a suitable activity for a company boss? Seth Godin, author of business books such as “Small is the New Big”, and “All Marketers are Liars: the Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World”, is sceptical. Blogs work, he says, when they are based on the values of “candour, urgency, timeliness, pithiness and controversy (maybe utility if you want six)”. As he asks, “Does this sound like a CEO to you?”

Candour, in particular, will surely strike most bosses as a reckless risk in the liability-laden world of corporate America after Sarbanes-Oxley.

The notion of CEOs blogging grew out of the world of small business, in particular the online start-up, where having a blog is now as obligatory as having a an AJAX-laden homepage and a domain name that is either a misspelling or a made-up word. In the start-up context, a CEO blogging makes all the sense in the world, because the CEO and the other handful of team members ARE the company. The company hasn’t taken on a life of its own yet. There are shareholders, but most of them are the people blogging, so they are looking after their own interests. More importantly, there is no Sarbanes-Oxley threatening to send the CEO or other executives to jail if something they publish “spontaneously” to their blog runs afoul of SEC regulations.
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If No One Reads What You Write, That’s Because It Sucks


There are a number ways to describe the headline of this post — sensational, trolling, obnoxious, pandering, link bait. I wrote it like that on purpose, of course, to make a point. The feedback loop on content is accelerating at a breakneck pace. YouTube can spread video content as fast as prime time TV. Digg routinely crashes servers unprepared for the avalanche of traffic. And AdSense makes it possible for anyone to experience first hand the intimate relationship between traffic and dollars.

The inevitable result for media companies, who are having an increasingly tough time selling “bundles” of content, is to start paying their content creators based on how much traffic each discrete piece of content can draw. Steve Rubel highlighted ZDNet’s introduction of a pay-for-performance system:

ZDNet’s pay-for-performance blogging system raises some interesting questions. For example, will a blogger favor writing a sensational post that is likely to get more clicks over one that perhaps is less sexy and is based on, say, a press release? News value and clicks often go together, but as we’ve seen on collaborative sites like digg, sensationalist rumors sometimes are more popular.

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Blogging Your Convictions


Steve Jobs doesn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. Neither does Google. Or Craigslist. For all the love-festing around “social,” “sharing,” and “community,” mosts of the biggest successes of recent years have been driven by a singular vision, rather than “collective intelligence.” As Nick Carr pointed out:

Jobs, in fact, couldn’t possibly be more out of touch with today’s Web 2.0 ethos, which is all about grand platforms, open systems, egalitarianism, and user-generated content. Like the iPod, the iPhone is a little fortress ruled over by King Steve. It’s as self-contained as a hammer. It’s a happening staged for an elite of one. The rest of us are free to gain admission by purchasing a ticket for $500, but we’re required to remain in our seats at all times while the show is in progress. User-generated content? Hah! You can’t even change the damn battery. In Jobs’s world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet.

Which is, of course, why the iPhone, like the iPod, is such an exquisite device.

Does Apple do product testing? Does Google do UI testing? Do these companies constantly improve their products based on user feedback? Of course they do. But the end result is the product of one or a hand full of minds with a vision of how things should work. I’m not talking about refusing to listen — I’m talking about at taking it all in and arriving at your own conclusion.
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The Great Comment Debate — Who Really Cares What You Think?


The debate over comments on blogs is as old as blogging — the meme recently resurfaced when Zoli Erdos declared that The Official Google Blog is not a blog because it doesn’t allow comments. Mike Arrington amplified the debate by running a poll about whether comments are required for a blog to be a blog. At last check, the results were:

Is a blog really a blog if there are no reader comments?

Not a requirement, but comments enhance content dramatically
1223 – 40% of all votes

Comments are not a requirement for blogs
1009 – 33% of all votes

Without comments, it isn’t a blog
791 – 26% of all votes

Total Votes: 3023

The post itself received over 150 comments. I wasn’t going to wade into this perennial debate again until I came across this Joel Stein column from the L.A. Times, which is a tour de force rant against reader feedback:
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