Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Blogs are Torpedoes

There was a recent tech conference in PEI -- Zap Your PRAM that I wish I could have gone to. I sort of heard about it in passing from the usual bloggerati. This feeling of wistfulness comes almost exclusively from this "live blogging" of a talk by Robert Paterson transcribed by Seb Paquet.

All sorts of concepts are covered, from my title for this post, likening blogs to the invention of torpedoes, which completely changed naval warfare, to education, and how our current system is broken:

How can you call yourself a professor and teach from textbooks? University students are treated like 12-year olds; it gets them worthless jobs and student debts.

I don't necessarily subscribe to the concept that "blogs will save the world"...but they can't hurt. I had a good back and forth email exchange with a client at work. I had explained at a recent meeting that my personal site (this one) and our business site were getting really good results in search engines because of the nature of blogging. Their marketing department was of course interested in driving more traffic, so this discussion came about.

Her first kick at the can for defining a blog was calling it a personal diary (the blog part) crossed with a chat room (comments). Not bad, but pretty far off at the same time. She did, however, mention Cluetrain, and how it is coming true. The central tenet, I guess, really is "markets are conversations". So in this sense, yes -- blogs are conversations. And markets. And they're people, too, which is why I keep coming back to profiles and identity.

When pushed for a definition, I'm now going to use this:
"A weblog, or *blog, is a frequently updated website consisting of dated entries arranged in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first"
(from a much longer definition)

But that doesn't really help, does it? It's a pretty good technical description, but it doesn't explain what a blog, blogging does. So ask yourself about your corporate website. Why do people want to come back there? How do people that are interested keep up to date with what's happening? How do you connect the subject matter experts inside your company with the market -- your (potential) customers? How do you show (potential) investors that you know your stuff, that your products are sound? By participating in conversations.

Of course, if you say something wishy-washy like that, people will laugh at you. But it's true.

Back to Robert Paterson. He sees reputation, and aggregators/providers of reputation (such as eBay) as being the new foundation. His example was time spent in Saudi Arabia -- it took a year to gain a proper reputation so that he could actually do business there.

We're through the efficiency-based methodology. We need to unlock the humans.

This is not consultant psychobabble. It's a new Renaissance. In the renaissance people living in a dogma-dominated era started looking at classics with fresh eyes.

Sure, we look bright-eyed and bushy tailed to the dinosaurs whose feet are coming down -- as evidenced by some wicked pessimism attached to Brendon's rant on syndication in BC.

Who, what, where, when, how. People, places, and things. These are the things that the world is composed of. Between them flow ideas, concepts, and opinions. Good reviews, bad reviews. Retellings of first-hand, personal experiences. Connections between these things, and what these connections mean -- human values.