Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Political Power of Blogs -- & Common Sense

A lot of hullaballoo about blogs this week.

Our sister blog, C101 discusses the Chicago Tribune article that calls blogs
potentially powerful tools for building grass-roots political support.


Suw Charman of Chocolate & Vodka is back from BlogTalk2.0 with some great insights into the future of corporate blogging.

I swear The Blogging of the President has had some similar posts recently, but I can't navigate their archive system and track the posts down. :( Anyone? Anyone?

The UK's Hansard Society also released a report this week about...the political power of blogging. Their key findings include

  • Blogging has the potential to significantly impact on political engagement and political processes as they provide an opportunity for alternative informal voices to enter into the political debate without a great deal of cost or effort.
  • Blogging breaks down the barriers between public and privates spaces and allows elected representatives to put across their individuality and personality.
  • The availability of low-cost, low maintenance authoring software means blogs are far easier to construct and update than conventional websites.
  • The most appealing blogs are those which provide genuine debate between bloggers and visitors to the blog. Blogs that do not offer this facility give visitors little reason to return.
  • At the moment, political blogging is still regarded as the pursuit of internet connoisseurs rather than ordinary members of the public. While our jury found blogs easy to navigate, they found the tone of content unappealing.
  • Blogging has the potential to be of enormous benefit to MPs and other elected representatives who use it as a listening post rather than another tool to broadcast their ideas, achievements or party dogma

  • And at the end of the day...it all seems to boil down to this:

    Blogs that are produced like Direct Mail or spam--slick, generic, ultra-massaged by a hierarchical organizational structure, one-way communication--are as bland as hell, and don't attract or retain readers. (Let's be honest: how many "official" blogs are interesting in any way? And how many shut off comments as well?)

    Blogs that engage in a two-way dialogue, micro-target their audience, actually say something, instead of blandly trumpeting press releases, and represent the views of real people...are far more successful.

    And, in reality, most politicians and corporations are going to opt for door number one, as blogs become the latest trend in political magic bullets, for the same reasons that they invest huge amounts of money in ad-buys and direct mail:
  • self-motivated consultants who know better will sell them on blogs in general to make a buck but not help the client substantially;
  • it is easier to write a check and make a project go away than to invest time or talent in doing things right.

    Quel dommage.

    My crystal ball says the same people/politicians/organizations with a commitment to open dialogue and to retail politics will be the same rare handful to do a good job of political blogs.
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