Ichabod is itchy

May 17, 2006

A little more conversation

Filed under: blogging,conference,social media — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:44 pm

Just back from the blogs and social media forum. A copy of the programme is available from the conference wiki along with a list of key speakers– and a bunch of photos have already been put up on flickr
The conference was aimed at 'business' people– why do we, as companies, need to be aware of social media tools like blogs, wikis, podcasting and rss, and how can we use them to our advantage?

The resounding message of the day was that we should embrace blogging as a means of engaging an audience in conversation. Indeed, conversation was a word that was used over and over again by all the key speakers. That and empowerment— power to the people. Blogging gives users a voice and we cannot rely on the one-way system of information flow that has hitherto dominated our interactions, as businesses, with customers.

I must confess that I was a little disappointed. It's true that many of us at the meeting hadn't seriously engaged with blogs before. For example, while I do subscribe to a number of rss feeds and regularly read blogs, my experience in producing content on blogs or wikis is 'lukewarm' shall we say. So maybe the speakers felt they had to pitch their talks to a novice audience. I suppose I was expecting a little more depth. I mean, even I know that a blog is a way of entering into conversation.
The discussion was also somewhat one-sided. All the speakers are active bloggers (or involved in other social media projects) and, like you find with many of these new technology groups, they are all very pro-blogging. I felt there was a lot of advocating going on. It reminded me of being back in the lab (during my PhD days) where Graham, an avid LaTeX user, preached and preached and preached some more on how LaTeX would change our lives. I'm not saying it  didn't work– we all wrote up our PhDs in LaTeX and took up preaching duty when Graham left for pastures new. But you expect to have both sides of an argument. To be fair, the speakers did make the point that blogging isn't for everyone and that whatever we do, we shouldn't force people into it. 

Perhaps I'm being a little unfair– there were a lot of interesting bits to the talks. I particularly enjoyed listening to JP Rangaswami (a.k.a. confused of calcutta), who put his finger on some everyday frustrations that really resonated with me–the evil and unproductive nature of a Bcc button, the pointlessness of sending spreadsheets to people who only ever look at their blackberry and the time wasted on constantly shifting your attention to things as they float in and out of your field of vision. 

I will try and put up more posts in the next few days about some of the other interesting bits too. In the meantime, I leave you with the response provided by Jaap Favier of Forrester Research on the main advantage of blogs:

"no-one will have to be lonely anymore"


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