Sunday, April 2, 2006

The Ouroblogos

John Moore, over at Brand Autopsy, has a good post with pointers to a recent blog-off between Robert Scoble and Shel Israel on one side, and Werner Vogel on the other, with color commentary from a bunch of other blogs as well.

Basically, Scoble and Shel went to Vogel's house (Amazon) to talk about corporate blogging. According to Vogel, they weren't prepared to discuss the subject deeply and seriously enough. According to Scoble/Shel, Vogel was rude. Blah blah blah, several million blog pings (including this one) later... we have Battle of the Blogs... etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam. I left the following comment at Brand Autopsy for John:

My favorite writing teacher at school, Dan McCall, liked to say that all great writing is always about two things: whatever it's about, and about writing.

Great marketing is always about two things, too: whatever it's about, and marketing. I look at this back-and-forth about blogging, and think to myself, "Isn't this an example of exactly the kind of discussion that blogging is *supposed* to foment?"

The fact that we're blogging about blogging (and now, with this post of John's, blogging about blogging about blogging... my god, it's the Ouroblogos!!!) makes it difficult to see (the reflexivity paradox; it's hard to think about thinking)... but nonetheless true -- it's the reflection of the thing in the thing itself.

The blog proponents say that blogging increases transparency, promotes communication between/among customers and employees and helps communication happen more naturally. OK. Didn't all those things just occur within this set of "dueling blog-o's?"

The "we're-less-than-convinved" crowd says that blogs will open the kimono too far, expose internal personalities that are better left on the inside, give vent to "non-professional" conversations and unleash all kinds of unproductive chatter that is irrelevant to the actual marketing of products and service. Didn't that happen, too?

Yes. It did. A condradiction? Not at all.

And why is that? Because like any marketing medium, blogging must be judged based on (here I go again) goals. What do you want to accomplish? What, specifically, do you think blogging will do for you? What are the costs and benefits? What are the risks? How do you mitigate them?

Is blogging a great tool? For what? Toasting a cheese sandwich? No. Sucks for that. For building a high-performance, massive, worldwide retail sales empire. Nope again. For bringing many more customers to a specific, "long tail" subject than you could possibly have ever garnered through previous, traditional communication channels? Hell, yeah! For letting narrow, vertical groups of customers, partners and employees know what's going on in areas of interest? Yep again.

So. Did I enjoy this blog-wrastle? Sure did. Why? It was meta in the extreme. "Blogs Gone Wild." I think I'll turn this comment into a post on my own blog just so I can come up with either a pic of the Ouroblogos or Scoble vs. Vogel on the cover of a mud wrestling VHS tape.

Am I adding to the noise? If so, I am clearly admitting it and so that makes it OK. Right? Going into the irony with full and complete knowledge and my cup on...

I don't know about corporate blogging at your company. That's not what this post is about. My point was, and is, that blogging, like any other communications tool, need to be examined within a context of goals. Doing it because it's "fun" is BS. Not doing it because it's "scary" is just as BS.

I just got a huge kick out of all the high-level navel gazing. Going to work on my illustration of Ouroblogos now...

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