Every January, trade publications put out lists of predictions for the coming year. They discuss products, services, and trends that they think will change the way business is done, labeling some of these "disruptive technologies."

The idea of disruptive technologies comes from Clayton Christensen's 1997 book, "The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail." A disruptive technology is a method, procedure, skill, device, or material that redefines competitive standards, and it often forces us to re-examine the way we work. Also note that the technology doesn't have to be a physical item.

InfoWorld's list of disruptive technologies for 2003 included open source, self-service CRM, digital identity, and my personal favorite, weblogs. How can a simple web-based journal be "disruptive?"

For starters, it's worth describing what a weblog is. Basically, a weblog, or “blog,” is an online, time-stamped web page that includes the thoughts, ideas, and comments of the “blogger.” The musings are usually brief, but they are published frequently and consistently. People can subscribe to receive the blog updates via e-mail. Often, the blogger is an expert on the subject he or she is discussing.

At first glance, it doesn't appear that blogs would be at all disruptive. So why all the hype?

If we look closely at the structure and intent of blogs as a communications tool, we can see some powerful ideas at work. Blogs are a direct, one-to-many means of communicating ideas. They expand an individual's ability to communicate. They are fresh and timely. The blogger, to maintain interest, must communicate often. Blogs enable a single person to share ideas, insights, and useful knowledge with an audience. Thanks to the web, the audience can be a global one.

Whenever a new tool or process—such as e-mail—expands communications, the effects are far-reaching and dramatic. Even though blogs have been around for 3-4 years, they could be “the next big thing.”

Blogs Are the “Real Voice”

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Todd A. Brehe is Director of Communication Products for <http://www.gallatin.com> Gallatin Technologies, Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Reach him at tbrehe@gallatin.com