Friday, December 13, 2002

Blogging About Blogging XXXVI
CIO doesn't put its new issues up on the Web to synch up with when they hit subscribers' mail boxes, so I'm at a bit of a loss. Regardless, Daintry Duffy contributes a short piece entitled "Blogging for Bucks" as part of CIO's year-end feature on ideas for 2003. And it pushed a couple of buttons with me.

In the opening paragraph, Duffy seems to confuse blogs with discussion forums, contending that "people who visit no longer have to verbalize their vitriolic disagreement. They can chronicle their thoughts about an article ... in their own Web log ... on the site." Sure, Salon now offers blogs, but it also offers a discussion forum -- Table Talk -- a forum in which Salon readers have long been able to discuss articles and chronicle their thoughts.

Secondly, Duffy seems to have her history slightly wrong. She claims that blogs "first gained popularity on news sites like, Slate and," but I'm pretty sure that blogs hit the mainstream and the public eye before Salon started offering its blog service.

And finally, while Duffy spends the bulk of the piece considering how companies such as Macromedia (which was also recently covered by Wired News) can use blogs as sales, marketing, communications, and customer service tools -- which is all very true, as people who track such things (like Phil Wolff) can attest -- Duffy's conclusion that corporate blogs' potential firmly rests in marketing leaves me cold.

The true potential for corporate blogs is not in sales and marketing. It's in knowledge management and communications, internal and external, I'd wager. If that's what marketing really is, sign me up. But Duffy's focus on marketing might lead CIO's to fall into a trap that I previously warned CIO readers about in a 1997 article about online communities, as well as in a book review of John Hagel III and Marc Singer's Net Gain, which I can't find online.

In that review, I cautioned against confusing customers with communities -- and commercials with conversation. Duffy's piece, though short, gives short shrift to the power of conversation and community, opting instead to highlight a new way to push commercials to potential and existing customers.

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