inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #26 of 102: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 5 Nov 05 19:19

Over the last couple of weeks. I've spoken to a PR class, a PR professional 
association, and a conference on the "blogging enterprise." Advertising, PR, 
and business people are catching on and starting to think of the 
implications of new media paradigms. Based on your focused thinking about 
blogs of late, what would you say to those folks? How can they expect to be 
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #27 of 102: Jamais Cascio, WorldChanger (cascio) Sat 5 Nov 05 22:48
David, you make a good case that political blogging undercuts the
traditional role of establishment pundit. But how does the role of (say) a
Kos or a Glenn Reynolds (or even a Cory Doctorow or Xeni Jardin) differ from
those establishment types? Or is the true power of blogging the so-called
"long tail," where the people and perspectives that couldn't gain a big
enough audience in a mass medium like TV can thrive with a smaller -- but
potentially influential -- audience?

(I suppose I'm asking a leading question here...)

How much would you say that the bloggers you've encountered see themselves
as "influencers" vs. "filters?"

(And pardon me if my participation here tends to be spotty -- I'm taking a
stab at the "start blogging, then write a book" path, and it *is* pretty
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #28 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:36
I want to get to your questions, but it may take a few hours as I'm 
rushing about this morning.

In the meantime, I want to hide three posts.

The first is a piece in today's NY Times about an influential anonymous 
young lawyer whose blogging efforts helped her literally stay sane and 
overcome depression and insomnia.

The second is a review of my book in today's New York Post written by Hugh 
Hewitt -- a "competing" author of a blog book. 

The third is a review of my book in today's Washington Times by Clive 
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #29 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:37
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #30 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:38
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #31 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:39
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #32 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:40
Type O 29, for example, to read post #29.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #33 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 09:49
Ohmygod, a third review today -- this one from the Philadelphia Enquirer.

I won't hide this one as it's shorter:

Posted on Sun, Nov. 06, 2005 [spacer.gif]

Bloggers call their new format a revolution, but is it really?

By Carlin Romano
Inquirer Book Critic

By David Kline and Dan Burstein

CDS Books. 402 pp. $24.95

Life imposes limits. You'll never sample every three-star restaurant.
You'll never read every astonishing book. You'll never visit every
beguiling country.

So many possibilities, so little life expectancy.

Much of the noise about blogging starts from a shaky premise on the other
side. Thanks to that neat Pyra Labs software, the "blog"- defined by
Merriam-Webster as "a Web site that contains an online personal journal
with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks" - sparks the fantasy of
accessing what everybody thinks about everything. In the utopian
blogosphere of the future, a free press will belong to everyone because,
to upend A.J. Liebling's famous insight, everyone will own one.

Like all technological true believers, blogo-lutionaries swamp us with

Technorati, the blog search engine, promises to hurtle through 20.6
million to check whether anyone glossed your immortal midnight thought.
Popular bloggers like Wonkette win top-dollar book contracts faster than
MSM journalists, though the notion that readers want to buy
strung-together blogger copy between covers remains unproven. Survey
research trumpets rising "hits" (though not, of course, "misses"-folks
who might be reading but aren't because they don't like a site).

Maintaining an agnostic stance outside the bloggerati thus begins to seem
retrograde, like not packing a state-of-the-art cell phone that, with
upgrade, might someday fold out into a car. So blog! comes at a good
time. We need an overview that keeps the hype in perspective.

David Kline, a journalist and consultant, and Dan Burstein, a venture
capitalist and specialist in new technology, hardly count as neutral

Both see blogging as revolutionary, a communications milestone comparable
to the invention of printing. Unapologetic enthusiasts, they sometimes
read the present back into the past to a silly degree, as when Burstein
dubs the Talmudic tradition "proto-blogging," or calls Leonardo's diaries
"the greatest unpublished blog of all time."

But they're also savvy, sensible survivors of previous bubbles of
irrational exuberance, from the dot-com bust to the faded mantra of early
Net visionaries like John Perry Barlow that the Net would resist
corporate exploitation.

Kline and Burstein dub their approach "real-world futurism." They're
excited by blogging, but alert to market-driven puff. As a result, blog!
- an anthology that mixes smart previously published pieces with
interviews on its subject and guiding essays by the pair - provides a
sophisticated intro to a new container of writing that resembles its
predecessors, but also counts as an advance.

The pieces remind us of already familiar ways bloggers make a difference.
They're a "fifth estate" watchdog of the institutional press and
politics. They inject irreverent attitudes and street talk into media.
They build niche communities - mini-publics with shared interests. They
supply news from hard-to-cover places such as Iran. They restore "the
lost voice of the ordinary citizen in our culture."

Across the book's three sections- "Politics and Policy," "Business and
Economics," and "Media and Culture" - Kline and Burstein zoom in on
social barriers weakened by blogs. Kline's essay "The Voice of the
Customer," for instance, gives a focused analysis of how blogs close gaps
between customers and producers, teaching the latter "what to make" as
well as "how to sell."

Ranging over different sorts of blogs, Kline and Burstein note trends.
Corporate America's effort to commercialize the blogosphere is now in
overdrive. Blogs are spreading globally, not just here. When bloggers
join together to platform wares, the results look like traditional media
such as newspapers.

Perhaps most important, core truths keeps popping up on the road to "Blog

Quality matters. Lazy bloggers lack audience. Navel-gazing doesn't sell.
Flat writers blog to themselves. Bores continue to bore when blogging.
Ephemera in pixels remains ephemera. Shoot back two months on most blogs,
and see what you can bear to read.

A hot blog provides what top writing always offers-voice, information,
insight. Content trumps form.

The good news? Our limited choice of what to read keeps growing.

The old news? The more writing containers change, the more they stay the

Contact book critic Carlin Romano at 215-854-5615 or Read his recent work at

       © 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer and wire service sources. All Rights
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #34 of 102: Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Sun 6 Nov 05 11:47
Wow, David -- a good day!
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #35 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Sun 6 Nov 05 19:10
Yep, a good. day. Three favorable reviews is more than I hoped for.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #36 of 102: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Nov 05 20:21
Just a reminder that a couple of questions are hanging in the air. And for 
those of you who're reading this but aren't members of the WELL, I should 
remind you to send comments and questions to
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #37 of 102: Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 7 Nov 05 06:59
I am really enjoying the book, although it's too bad that the politics
section came first - addicted to serial reading I had to read that
part first before getting to the sections that are probably going to be
more relevant to what I do and how I use blogs.

A quick question, though. It's very neat that we have tools that help
put more words on the web more quickly. But it isn't clear to me yet
how blogs better enable organizing or community-building. On the one
hand, just getting the word out can be a good thing (and finding the
word, once out, in google or on technorati, obviously helps like minds
find each other). 

But what then? I'm thinking of a conversation last night with my
stepson about how one organizes generally apathetic college students
and wondering if blogging is part of how he pulls people in and keeps
them focused and committed.

I have a lot of thoughts on this, myself, but wonder how others see
this issue. I am also mindful that a public conversation, via blog,
doesn't necessarily go beyond the narcissim of a small group of people
talking to themselves.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #38 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Mon 7 Nov 05 13:25
Okay, I'll take a stab at some of these tough questions. Remember, though, 
that the phenomenon of blogging -- and our understanding of it -- is still 
early and evolving.

1) Blogging and PR/advertising/corporate communications. 

Basically, I think corporate communicators of all types still don't get 
what bl,ogging is all about. Historically, their job has always 
been message control, and in this era -- the first time in business 
history that companies have direct contact with customers -- PR has got to 
be about listening to and learning from and then co-creating the message 
with the customers.

A recent study by Technorati and Edelman PR showed, in fact, that
communications professionals are, despite a lot of hype, still sitting on
the sidelines won dering how to do work that goes against the grain of ev
erything they've ever learned. According to a press release about the

"The online survey polled 821 bloggers and found that half wrote
about a company or product at least once a week. When asked how they would
like a company to contact them, only 2% said they didn't want companies to
do so. A majority of respondents favored a personalized e-mail.

"But only 16% of bloggers, however, reported that companies or their PR
firms generally attempt to interact with them in a personalized manner,
and only 21% reported at least weekly correspondence from companies or
their PR representatives. And they reported much of the contact as a
simple press release."

You can't send press releases to bloggers. You have to develop 
individual relationships with them. Listen to them. Learn from them. And 
together discuss what might be a good story idea to pursue.

Bottom line, I think blogging is going to be tough love for businesses.

2) Is a pundit like DailyKos different from a pundit like Novak?

Yes, but I'm not sure exactly how. I mean, bloggers can and do have
influence, sometimes national influence. But generally-speaking in terms
of trust and credibility, bloggers are still mostly on the periphery of
national discourse. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because power
itself (or at least some forms of it) are also moving away from the center
to the periphery. But I think it would be a mistake for non-professional
citizen journalists (and pundits) to see themselves as supplanting or even
replacing the mainstream media. That won't happen, at least in any near
future. Instead, they should see themselves as complementing the MSM.

As for the notion of the long tail, I don't see blogging's influence as 
confined solely to smaller audiences. But that said, even in the realm of 
the long tail, I don't think it's clear how blogger influence will 
manifest itself. Studies show that one passionate person talking about 
politics to his friends and family can have more influence on their voting 
decisions than millions of dollars of TV political ads, so I guess that's 
a good sign about bloggers' potential for influence. 

There's also the question of whether or not the myriad streams of public
opinion that don't fit neatly into either the Democrat or GOP platforms
can be mobilized and directed towards the formation of third political
parties. I think it's possible, in similar fashion to the way Amazon has 
shown that sales of non-bestseller books that can't get shelf space in 
Barnes & Noble can collectively surpass those of the top-selling books.

3) How are blogs collective organizers?

As I wrote in my book: 

"Political blogs, after all, are not just political persuaders, they are
also (in Lenin's famous description of the political newspaper)
"collective organizers." As the rather prescient young communist wrote in
1903, 14 years before his followers seized state power and founded the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: " [A political newspaper] may be
likened to the scaffolding round a building under construction , which
marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between
the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common
results achieved by their organized labor."  

"And so it is with political blogs. For if the short-lived presidential
candidacy of Howard Dean proves anything, it's that political bloggers can
mobilize and unite large groups of citizens in ways that make insurgent
candidates more viable -- and that erode Big Money and top-down party
control not only of candidate selection but of the issues that drive

Blogs don't just spur debate. They also create communities of interest 
(political or otherwise). And when directed towards concrete goals and 
action, they've already shown themselves to be potent organizing tools.

Their strength is that they tend to rally and mobilize the activists and
influencers. But that's also been their weakness (at least in the 2004
election) -- i.e., they have tended to be not very effective (so far)  in
crossing the red state-blue state divide (as <jonl> put it in his
interview in my book) to reach out to uncommitted independent voters.

Hopefully that will change. You need activists to win elections. But 
activists alone can't do it. I'll be very very happy the day some blog or 
group of blogs really begin listening to and reaching out to middle of the 
road voters with insight and understanding.

Again, we're still at a very early stage.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #39 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Mon 7 Nov 05 13:32
Just to add to the idea of blogs as collective organizers, we should
remember that in the 2004 election they helped raise many millions of
dollars from small contributors, and mobilized tens of thousands of people 
to walk the precincts for candidates. They also brought about the downfall 
of Trent Lott and Ed Schrock and Dan Rather.

Not bad for a few citizen pundits blogging in their pajamas.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #40 of 102: nape fest (zorca) Mon 7 Nov 05 14:30
i'm finding blogs useful for keeping up with current topics. memeorandum and
blogpulse and technorati all providing nice pointers. but i'm wondering how
we'll mine blogs for past content? how we'll follow threads of thought even
within a single blog? tags seem to help some, but this remains the biggest
stumbling block for me. how do you think this might play out over time?
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #41 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Mon 7 Nov 05 15:18
I haven't a clue, truthfully.

But someone is going to have to come up with better info management and 
contextualization tools.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #42 of 102: nape fest (zorca) Mon 7 Nov 05 15:30
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #43 of 102: Sharon Brogan (sbmontana) Mon 7 Nov 05 15:36
Adagio Tea did a very nice promotion using blogs -- they offered free
products to bloggers for a mention, no matter what the mention said. I
did a "self-serving tea post" and got a nice package in the mail. Of
course, this will only work for businesses that have good products, and
it turned out that Adagio has nice tea and nice tea makers. I was
pleased, then, to do a positive review. 

I would never have sampled their products without the freebie, so we
both benefited from the promotion. Adagio determined what was in the
package according to Google rank, which seems sensible -- assuming
higher ranked blogs have more readers. 

I'm surprised I've not seen other businesses doing something like
this. I know that the big blogs get this kind of attention, but I would
think businesses could benefit even more from "the long tail", which I
am on. 
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #44 of 102: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 7 Nov 05 17:03
Marqui paid bloggers (myself included) to blog about their content 
management system, with no restrictions on what we could say. I think most 
of us spent more energy on making sure we were transparent about the 
sponsorship and clear that it wasn't having an impact on our assessment of 
the product. It was controversial; some said that we were damaging our 
credibility as bloggers (but my readers didn't complain). It was an 
interesting experiment.

David, Kos may differ from Novak because he's hosting a community of 
bloggers and encouraging them to take the stage. I think the community is 
the draw, not Moulitsas himself.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #45 of 102: Nancy White (choco) Tue 8 Nov 05 08:37
Two great streams here that interest me: the community building and
the information stream management. 

David, you wrote:
>Blogs don't just spur debate. They also create communities of
(political or otherwise). And when directed towards concrete goals and

action, they've already shown themselves to be potent organizing

I sense a lot of interest in using blogs to create or nurture existing
communities of interest, but find that they serve a particular type of
people well, and not others. So when thinking about using a blog to
organize some task work, it works for those who read/skim/scan and
aggregate what they need for action. People who are online often and
have the sorts of schedules and styles that lend themselves to reading
blogs. Then there are the people who log on once a day or twice a week,
for whom this online scan/read/write/act is not the habit. Most groups
have people of both types (and everything in between.) 

What sorts of examples have you or others seen that bridge this
stylistic and practice gap? I can offer some real world cases if that
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #46 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Tue 8 Nov 05 08:55
I'm not sure the gap can or should be bridged, anymore than the gap
between most of us and those few of our friends who read everything about,
say, the best stereo systems or PC gear, can be bridged. In the real
world, we all have "influencers" in our lives -- people we go to for
advice when it comes time to buy a PC or a car. In the online world, those
people are the bloggers. They influence us.

Or maybe I'm not clear what you're talking about.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #47 of 102: Nancy White (choco) Tue 8 Nov 05 09:15
Slipped... ok, let me be clearer. If a group wanted to use blogs as a
knowledge sharing tool within their organization, can they make enough
inroads to be worth the time they take to create and read? What is the
tipping point in terms of adoption, or the warning signs in terms of
resistence? And I mean this in terms of adoption because people find
utility, not because they are forced to do it.

BTW, have you talked to the folks at the Michael Smith Genome
Institute in Vancouver BC where they run their business via blogs and
rss feeds from all their research outputs??

The second query is related -- information filtering and overload. On
one had, blogs represent information filtered through people, so
theoretically if we follow people who are good filters, we have already
moved closer to an info overload solution.

So 3 questions (oh, I may be getting abusive here!):
1) How have any of you successfully conveyed this benefit to a
somewhat skeptical audience? I am working with a group of 7
international NGOs working on a share project. I suggested blogs as a
way to keep each other in the loop. The comeback was "we don't have
time to read blogs." Clearly I did an awful job of presenting the
ideas. Any suggestions?

2) What is the easiest transition to using a blog reading tool you
have observed? Any organizational adoption patterns or have they all
been strictly individual. (Both courses seem viable.)

3) Any particularly successful knowledge sharing practices in using
blogs within an org or group?

I'm getting to nitty gritty adoption issues here. I see a great
opportunity, but not sure how to "get" to it. Am I making any sense?
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #48 of 102: Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 8 Nov 05 09:49
Something that I've noticed positively at work is the way that people
have taken to the bloggish function on an online project management
tool called "basecamp". 

There are tools in the application to note "to dos" and calendar
items, but I have noticed that if I use the "message" feature as I
would a blog - noting items of interest, approaching milestones,
project questions - I get very good feedback, both in terms of replies
to those messages and via private e-mail.

There does seem to be something compelling about the simplicity of
blogs: relatively narrow focus (as very different from an online
message board), ease of posting and commenting, that makes it easier to
engage people than with many tools. 

It's also easier to track blogs than e-mail. The latter gets lost,
filtered, whatever. Blogs are not only independent of e-mail, but you
can track new items using an RSS aggregator.

But beyond repeating the Dean campaign experience (as I read, and as
you repeated), it still isn't clear to me how one explains using a blog
to nascent community organizers. Maybe that's because it's like
shaving: once you've offered the basic description about soaping the
face and applying the razor, it's up to the person with the stubble to
get a feel for how to avoid nicks and remove the stubble.

These may also be the wrong questions for this discussion: In your
book you are interviewing people and reporting on a phenomenon and a
toolset, which gives the book a wonderful sense of breadth. The book
isn't about "how to", it's about "this is what other people are saying
and doing with this tool".
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #49 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Tue 8 Nov 05 12:12
> I am working with a group of 7
>  international NGOs working on a share project. I suggested blogs as a
>  way to keep each other in the loop. The comeback was "we don't have
>  time to read blogs."

Ask them how much time they spend reading, answering, forwarding and
copying emails to everyone in the project. A blog would eliminate most of
that grunt work.
inkwell.vue.258 : David Kline, "Blog!"
permalink #50 of 102: David Kline (dkline) Tue 8 Nov 05 12:18
> it still isn't clear to me how one explains using a blog
>  to nascent community organizers.

Way back in pre-history when I was a radical activist, we had a lefty 
newspaper that we used as a "collective organizer." We wrote articles 
about issues and personalities of concern to our target audience, and 
recruited "worker journalists" to contribute articles of their own. It 
proved to be quite an effective organizing and recruitment tool.

In fact, its usefulness as a tactic was limited only by the fact that the
ideology we were promoting was politically bankrupt, inhumane, and
antithetical to the core beliefs of any decent society.

But other than that, it was a winner!


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