What is a blog? Why blog? Who should blog (journalists, marketers, CEOs, techies, educators, scientists, hobbyists)? Should blogging be pure or can you make money with a blog? Will blogging change everything?
Picture several hundred intense writer/thinker/bloggers at a recent blogging conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On the Harvard Law School campus, no less. You get the idea.
A blogging conference is not for the fainthearted. The metaphysics of blogging was a hot topic. The warmth of a virtual community (the blogosphere) enjoying face-to-face interaction was palpable.
As conference organizer (and veteran hackle-raiser) Dave Winer put it in his thank-you message to attendees: “Did we figure out what Weblogs are? Probably not—but we came closer.”
Well, I decided to take a crack at it. Here are my top 20 definitions of a blog. Take them with a grain of salt. Take them as a starting point to think about how you might use a blog as part of your Web site or communications strategy.
But don't write Weblogs off as a passing fad, even if you (or your company) are not blogging yet.
- A form of unedited, authentic self-expression
- An instant publishing tool
- An online journal with freshly updated content
- Amateur journalism
- Something that will revolutionize the Web (think RSS feeds)
- A way to create community with your voters, er... readers (think 2,200 comments posted to the Dean for America blog in one day)
- An alternative to mainstream media (think InstaPundit by Glenn Reynolds and TalkingPointsMemo by Joshua Micah Marshall)
- A tool to teach students how to write
- A new way to communicate with customers (think Ray Ozzie, CEO of Groove Networks)
- A new form of knowledge management inside big companies
- A way for a bunch of navel-gazers to communicate with one another
- Something to keep you occupied when you're unemployed (more people than care to admit fit into this category… have you noticed?)
- A way to think and write in short paragraphs instead of a long essay (which no one has time to read anyway)
- Your email to everyone, as A-list blogger Doc Searls puts it (i.e., a way to stay in touch with family and friends)
- A silly word that's fun to say (“Gotta go blog now….”)
- A way of writing with a distinct voice and personality (think Halley Suitt)
- Something to talk about at cocktail parties (“I blogged Seth Godin and he blogged me back...”)
- A URL to add to your resume (as in TokyoTim, my 23-year-old son, who's working as an English teacher in Japan for a year)
- Something else to do with your mobile phone... think audio blogging and moblogging
- Something you don't want your mother to read: what my mother says about blogging