Posted by: nickgerlich | February 4, 2008

Blog This

Yesterday’s blog about blogging (how’s that for redundancy?) stirred up a lot of emotions and questions. I am afraid some students did not completely understand my point, which is that seemingly innocent public blogs may in fact be paid advertisements. They were afraid, somehow, that I was going to start charging them to read my blogs. Not a chance! Even on my worst of days, I would never resort to such extortion.

But others latched on to a key concept: Blogging is indeed a very powerful force, and one that everyone, marketers, politicians, and private citizens, must come to terms with. Like them or not, there are millions of voices in the wilderness. And while it may be a digital Babylon, these voices can wield amazing impact.

Blogging ShirtHow many voices are there? According to CyberJournalist, the venerable Technorati logged its 50 millionth blog way back in summer 2006. In computer time, that’s about the time plate tectonics started shaping the blogosphere in ways that we recognize today. The blogosphere is doubling every 6.5 months (I didn’t realize that Moore’s Law could apply to blogs), with 175,000 new blogs launched every day. And in case you have some spare reading time, there are 1.6 million postings per day.

See what happens when you give everyone an open line of communication?

Andrew Keenan, author of The Cult of the Amateur, may decry all this citizen journalism, but media experts and pundits like Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, accept it simply as a paradigm shift, and one we had better get used to.

Blogging can make or break a new product. It can sink a politician, or possibly send him (or her!) to the White House. And even there though are shills, shysters, and hucksters out there, we still tend to lend a credible ear to citizen voices over those of corporations.

Anyone who can string a few syllables together into a cogent thought can now broadcast with the alacrity of cable TV. Consider that the population is armed with high-tech phones capable of web browing, emailing, blogging, and uploading pics and video, and suddenly you have the potential for real-time reporting while the traditional media are stuck in traffic.

Even in a far more tame application, blogs can be very useful for a business. I blog regularly for our bicycle touring business, posting something new each day during our tours, but also adding updates and teasers during other times of the year. It is often easier to blog these things than to make updates to websites; since the site links to the blog (and vice-versa), they co-generate traffic. Factor in that people subscribe to my biking blogs, and you have the ultimate in free advertising.

Yes, the landscape has changed to the point that you never really know who is blogging what (and everyone may very well be qualified to wear the shirt pictured above). We just need to be on our best behavior. Dan Rather wrote The Camera Never Blinks in 1977, and he may have been far more prescient than anyone ever realized.

Not to mention swiftly dismissed.

Dr “Type Writer” Gerlich


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