New Semester, New Year

Time to immerse ourselves in learning and discussing the ever changing sphere of new media again. I would like to start my post of the new year mentioning the Society for New Communications Research. The Society is devoted to the study of how new tools, technologies and interactive communications impact our culture, business and broader
society. Check out their journal, New Communications Review. I suggest signing up for the free e-newswletter and reading Phil Gomes post in the PR section.

Over break I reflected-I had a month! And here is my question to all…blogs are a form of consumer generated media, they are created by the user. When organizations and companies blog this alters the medium. The consumer is no longer the creator and user but the receiver of a message an organization wants to communicate with its audience. And more often than not the audience does not always post comments on corporations blogs making the medium less interactive. So are these blogs really blogs? Any thoughts?

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5 Responses

  1. Beth,

    Well I already posted this comment, and now I’m posting it again because it disappeared into cyberspace somewhere.

    I have a few things to say about your post. First off, thanks for the great link to New Communications Review. I looked at it for a while and it’s easy to get lost in there – so much great information. I’ll be sure to spend more time there when I get a chance. It was an honor to have Elizabeth Albrycht post about us.

    So on to your question. In my opinion, blogs don’t HAVE to be consumer-generated media, that’s just how they initially started, I think. Ms. Albrycht says a bit about that as well. I will say that they are supposed to be Social Media. They have evolved quite a bit. I feel it’s okay for companies to blog, the important thing is HOW they do it and WHAT they blog about. The Harvard Business School posted an article about company blogs last November. It’s worth checking out. The article goes into detail about why you should blog and what makes a blog a blog. Controversy has spewed about this topic on all levels. At the heart of blogging is speaking in one conversational tone to each reader as they he/she is the only person you are talking with. Criticism over corporate or government blogs or podcasts (Reference FIR Show #104 Here) stems from the fact that people are still using them for unidirectional top-down communications – not conversational or discussion generating as they were intended (or have become).

    With that in mind, people are also critical of blogs that have the
    Comments turned off as if to say “I am talking TO you, I don’t care what you have to say.” And the comments, trackbacks, and linking are what make blogs so conversational and wonderful.

    To answer your question, yes, I think company blogs can be blogs, but they have to make sense, they have to be honest, conversational, and have a real reason for being out there. Promotion is not a good enough reason. And if people are posting comments on a corporate blog, that isn’t necessarily the corporation’s fault. It may be, perhaps they haven’t been inviting discussion, perhaps the audience knows the organization is full of crap – that the blog is a sham – that there is nothing worth commenting on.

    Ms. Albrycht makes an interesting differentiation between, perhaps understatedly, a Blog and a “blog tool,” which would be the software system that allows for posts, comments, trackbacks, etc. I believe you, Beth, are trying to make a distinction. Here is a possible answer?

    It’s complicated, but I feel the answer to your question is yes.
    Anyone else?

  2. Yes, I was attempting for a distinction. I would like to see a
    distinction between corporate blogs and the others simply because I
    believe it is needed to advance the new communications field. I do agree wtih Elizabeth Albrycht that they add a “human voice” to a corporation and generate conversation. Corporations and organizations should use blogs but we need to look at or for the reasoning behind the blog.

    I think that as corporate/organizational blogs take shape they will
    become the status quo, like online downloadable media kits and possibly
    its time to envision best practices for corporate blogging.

  3. I’d like to encourage you in your work in better undertanding blogs, corporate blogs etc. In some of the comments on my initial post referencing yours, a few people remarked that trying to come up with definitions was a waste of time. I heartily disagree, no matter how contentious, futile, boring etc. it seems. That is because definitions can be political weapons. They encompasses assumptions (deliberate or not) about power. They can exclude, for example, and by excluding, say something about the group that is making the definitions. A perfect example of this is how, back in 2004, bloggers were trying to define blogging in a way that meant that Live Journal blogs weren’t included. They were dismissed as “diaries”. What was very interesting about that, is that the users of LJ are predominently women. So, by cutting them out of the definition, suddenly a huge segment of woment bloggers were no longer considered bloggers, not included in the databases, and denied a way to link into the growing online networks of influence.

    So definitions matter.

    And yes, I was making a distinction between “blogging” and “tools”. I think we have to differentiate these. Certainly, the tool can be determinisitic of the blog, in some sense, but the writer is also deterministic of the result. The interesting thing is what comes out of this mix over the long run, in large groups of people. So you can’t define a blog by “it uses trackbacks” because some tools (blogger for one) doesn’t enable them (or at least not easily). And some people might use standard html webpages in a blog-like way.

    I do hope you continue this line of thinking – I think it is important.

  4. good post man

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