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

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

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.

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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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