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Friday, March 14, 2003

Blogging Goes Corporate

News Factor has a well balanced article on the corporate use of weblogs.  Most of it is on the external use of weblogs:

In many cases, a company's decision to deploy Weblogs may hinge more on policy than on technical issues related to software deployment. More conservative companies may see Weblogs as too informal and too uncontrolled to justify the risk.

While it is true that personal blogs are usually the height of informality, the immediacy of communication and two-way nature of the discussion on sites that allow comments from readers have made blogs immensely popular with many readers and authors.

Searls said it is important that companies allow individual voices to come through, instead of "that corporate voice that we mock. Blogging can just involve companies with their markets in huge ways."

Some companies are seeking ways to harness the positives of blogging while tempering some of the rough edges. That may mean vetting material before it is posted. Caldwell told NewsFactor that Gartner reviews material before publishing it on its public Weblog. "It's right out there for everybody to see with the Gartner logo, so we do have a bit of a review process," he said. ...

...The big question in the not-so-distant future may be whether or not companies are willing to allow public discussion to flourish on Weblogs. A failure of nerve on the part of firms determined to stick with more timid, one-way communication may allow other, braver companies to achieve more "mindshare" by engaging the public.

As Dornfest told NewsFactor, "Discussion is going to break out. Might as well have it break out where you can see it."

If a clueful company engages in external blogging in an honest way it stands to engage its markets and build trust.  There will be a role for editorial review for some companies, but the best ones will encourage their individuals to engage directly.  If done right, individuals will be mindful of policy throughout the company.  If not done, individuals still have the means to break policy through email (misaddressed or not) or discussion forums.  The difference is if you use the new tools as a way to engage the entire company in a discussion of policy that reduces your risks over time.

The article covers internal blogging, something most articles do not because there is less compelling controversy.

Although it is hard to measure internal Weblog use, it is likely that these tools are being used extensively within enterprises. Behind corporate firewalls, employees can be more free with their opinions while keeping the rest of the company up-to-date on important projects or day-to-day operations.

Rael Dornfest, a researcher for O'Reilly and author of the Blosxom Weblog software, told NewsFactor that he thinks internal blogs are "taking the place of the 'today I did the following' memos" in many companies.

Searls said he has not seen any internal blogs -- since they are, after all, internal -- but agreed that they are bound to be useful. "Those are far more likely to be read than some corporate newsletter. Take the watercooler and put it in the browser."

4:26:36 PM    comment []

How the Metablog Works
Blog Network Metablog: How it Works. There's a new Blog Tribe Metablog which aggregates posts about blogging. [BookBlog]  Adina shares how she put together the Blog-Network metablog.  Thanks again Adina!
3:50:32 PM    comment []

Opinion Tags

When I met with Joi the other week I proposed that in support of Emergent Democracy,  blogspace polling mechanism could make opinions explicit.  This could provide an open means of meritocracy for sourcing memes for the Journal of Emergent Democracy.  One of Joi's main points in the paper was that direct polling breaks down the barriers between decision makers and their constituents.

Kevin Marks then had a brilliant idea of extending 'a href' tags.  This would serve both the polling mechanism and the metadata could be used by search engines. 

The latter is similar to the idea I had on Anti-links. Not all links are created equal.  Now that real people are participating in building the web, instead of just navigating it, the demands are straining its structure.  A peace-blogger wants to link to a war-blogger without giving them a "vote" by linking according to Google. And vice-versa.  Doing so is actually a positive for connecting two otherwise isolated communities.  Like Valdis Krebs' analysis of book purchasing data where authors from the left and the right currently do not cross-cite, the state today keeps bloggers from doing so because they fear adding legitimacy to those they disagee with.

But lets not forget the core purpose of this is polling opinions explictly.  There has been a flurry of discussion on the Emergent Discussion list yesterday and overnight.  Kevin floated a straw-man proposal (a ha! polling on polling):

I propose that we add an optional attribute to the <a> (link) tag in HTML. Its name is 'vote'. Its value can be "+" "0" or "-", representing agreement, abstention or indifference, and disagreement respectively.

An untagged link is deemed to have value "+".

Additional human-readable commentary can be added using the existing 'title' attribute, which most browsers show as a rollover.

Im in agreement with the exception of the name.  I had suggested Social Tags because they enable social judgement on content (keep in mind this is not polling opinions of people, ad hominem is not substantive argument).  But the idea is more than social.

Opinion Tags enable explicit polled opinion of memes.  This is different than "Voting" where people are making decisions, has negative direct democracy connotations and lacks connection to the popular understanding of the term. This can enable a new round of innovation that centers on engaging participants to shape the web, allos new diliberative polling groups to form and presents their opinions in new ways.


7:46:56 AM    comment []

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