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Out of Our Minds
Sunday, June 27, 2004 11:54 PM
Blogging and fear of the boss
David Weinberger on Passionate Work

Scott Rosenberg writes about the future of corporate blogging. Here's an excerpt:

I'm sorry to be the pessimist at the party. But for large numbers of workers in America, particularly those at big companies, the dominant fact of life remains don't piss off your boss. And, in an era of health-insurance lock-in and easy outsourcing and offshoring, many U.S. workers remain doubtful that they can simply waltz into a new job should their activities displease the current hierarchy to which they report. So the odds of them feeling at ease publishing honest Web sites about their work lives are extremely poor. The blogs you're going to see from within most traditional companies will be either uninformative snoozes or desperate attempts at butt-covering and -kissing. Not because people don't have great stories to tell -- but because telling the truth has too high a cost.

I do agree that it'll take a long time for corporate public blogging to spread beyond easy industries, such as high tech. But, I think it'll happen faster than Scott does. First, internal blogging will happen relatively quickly because it's a great way for employees to build their reputations, a motive as powerful as the urge not to piss off your boss. Those internal blogs will go onto the extranet and eventually some will make it onto the Internet.

Second, the first public blogs we're likely to see outside of the sw industry will be more like the Dean blog than anything else: They'll be always upbeat but still lively, full of voice, and worth reading by enthusiasts.

[Note: I have never been right with a single prediction.]


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Jennifer Connors - 11/9/2004 5:14:05 AM
I stumbled on this from Google and wanted to say hello
Elizabeth Albrycht - 6/29/2004 1:18:49 PM
One way of thinking about corporate blogging is through the lens of power. In the old days, communications was controlled by the company. PR departments, employee relations, community relations -- all of these existed to spread the company gospel. And, at the same time, assert the power of the corporation.

Today, new technologies such as blogging interrupt that power structure. Rather than being a technology of control (the press release, the corporate rah-rah meeting, the annual report), blogging is a technology of un-control.

I think blogging is one of those new technologies that makes the negotiations about power visible, vs. hiding them in a black box.

Power needs secrecy.

Humanity needs openness.

Ergo - blogging actually works on the side of humanity. As does wikis, the open source movement, social networks, etc. I believe that corporations can benefit from this openness through tapping the credibility that comes through dialogue and honest conversation, vs the old black-boxed credibility of the 'expert'.

This is a rather simplistic version of the argument I am developing about communications, power and communities. I'll be blogging about this topic at the Global PR Blog Week 1.0 July 12 - 15 (http://www.globalprblogweek.com). I hope you'll stop by and comment.
anita - 6/28/2004 6:01:28 PM
Well, 'Cluetrain Manifesto' was on the money.

OK, this wasn't exactly a prediction, but the other day I ran across a couple of passages from that book and this seems to be as good a place as any to quote them:

'A couple of centuries ago, a new invention arrived in the world. It was called 'the job.' The idea was simple, really. You went to some hellhole of a factory, worked 16 hours until you were ready to collapse, and you kept on doing that every day until you died. Cool, huh? You can see where Calvinism must have come in handy. Some people wouldn't do that even for stock options. . .

'Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge. Imagine a world where what you gave away was more valuable than what you held back, where joy was not a dirty word, where play was not forbidden after your 11th birthday. Imagine a world in which the business of business was to imagine worlds people might actually want to live in someday. . .Yeah. Imagine that.'


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