June 12, 2006
Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing The Way Businesses Talk with Consumers, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, would have been mildly interesting had I never read, let alone written, a blog. So chances are if you’re reading this blog regularly, it’s not a great use of your time or money, but if you just ran across this post while trying to learn more about blogging – or really about any form of post-2002 Internet marketing – it’s probably worthwhile as a primer. But if you’re knee-deep in internet marketing or blogging, it may be a bit of a snoozer.
I find it entertaining that leading bloggers like Scoble and Israel, who are part of the ultra-small group of hardcore bloggers, as they describe, that “posts 50 times a day, mostly at 4 a.m.,” think blogs are really conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that blogs are revolutionary in that they allow anyone to run his or her own printing press. I also think it’s critical for companies to have corporate blogs (Return Path had one of the first), for CEOs and other executives to blog (obviously I do), for companies to allow their employees to blog relatively unencumbered by corporate policy, and, perhaps most important, for companies to track and listen to what others who blog are saying about them and their products.
But let’s not get too caught up in our own euphoria as bloggers to think that what’s happening is actually a conversation the way we humans think of conversations. Blogging allows more people to have their voices heard, and it certainly allows for transparency and authenticity, as the authors say, but there’s almost never dialog. Many popular blogs don’t have comments at all. Those who do allow comments have few if any posted. And those who have comments posted rarely have any other readers who actually see the comments, since the blog is a publishing forum and RSS is a publishing format, neither is a truly interactive medium like chat.
I’m sure there are some blogs that have active commenters, particularly political ones, and hopefully someone, somewhere, reads and internalizes those comments when they’re relevant. And certainly, high circ bloggers who read and know each other participate in a dialog by talking AT each other via their blog postings, not via comments (meaning that for the “dialog” to make sense to the greater world, the greater world must read all blogs participating in a “conversation.”). But, please, let’s not pretend there is really a 20-million-way conversation happening.