Prior to reading “Naked Conversations,” I knew little about Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I recall that Scoble worked at Microsoft and earned his name through blogging.
When I Googled the book, I came across Scoble’s blog “scobleizer.” I must admit, at first I was taken aback by the photo in the header of his blog. It shows a silly grinning Scoble pointing his left index finger and holding what at first looks like a weapon in his other hand. Upon further inspection, it appears he’s holding a camera or other tech device. At least Scoble appears to have a good sense of humor for an ultra tech geek.
After reading through the first half of the book and some of Scoble’s blog entries, one thing’s clear: both of these men are undoubtedly passionate about blogging and believe that it’s the next greatest communications invention—particularly for corporations.
The book provides compelling case study examples describing some of the business reasons companies should blog. I appreciate the authors taking a business angle approach.
Prior to taking the class Introduction to the Digital Age, I incorrectly assumed that bloggers comprised Gen Y types who wanted to pontificate and brag to their friends about their latest endeavors. Or that bloggers comprised young desperate “wanna be” reporters looking for their big break at a traditional media publication.
When I previously thought about bloggers, I would think of the NYT article that featured the story by a former blogger from Gawker Media, Emily Gould. She previously blogged about the lives of so-called famous people in NYC. Ultimately, strong public dislike of Gould caused her to quit her job at Gawker. She’s now writing freelance for such publications as the NYT. She featured her raw and unfiltered story about her blogging experience this past summer in the NYT. The article paints a pathetic look at the life of a publicity-driven blogger who had the tables turned on her when she became the story instead of reporting what was happening to the lives of stars.
“Naked Conversations” certainly has placed a new perspective for me about the fascinating world of blogging. I now see that people and companies blog for many reasons—such as to enrich their lives or to extend their reach. It can open up a world of possibilities. Corporate blogging offers a way for companies to economical and effectively communicate with customers. It can paint a company as authentic and transparent if used properly. It can help to build stronger customer relationships as it has for GM’s Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. It personalizes and humanizes a company and provides a feedback mechanism. Additionally, it can help to build a company’s reputation and credibility.
The authors will address some of the negative effects of blogging in the second half of the book. I certainly hope that they discuss how blogging—and other technologies such as email—are negatively influencing the English language.
NPR recently featured a segment talking about how technology, such as texting, is destroying our ability to communicate. People aren’t using proper grammar anymore. They are purposely writing incomplete sentences or using acronyms to communicate their thoughts.
I completely agree with the NPR analysis. Bloggers for instance misspell or leave out words so sentences are incomprehensible. Scoble and Israel think that such innocent mistakes make the blogger appear authentic and transparent. I completely disagree. The biggest problem that I have with reading blogs is the plethora of misspelled words and the use of incomplete sentences. I’m not suggesting that bloggers submit their posts through an editor to check their grammar. All I’m recommending is that bloggers respect the English language—use spell check, and re-read their messages prior to publishing. That’s all that I’m asking.
My final comment about the first half of the book concerns the future of blogging.
Scoble and Israel had originally thought to title their book “Blog or Die.” I’m certainly happy that they used the title “Naked Conversations. It’s more provocative, memorable and suitable. Don’t get me wrong, blogging certainly has a place in the corporate world. But I don’t think it applies to all industries.
I work in the investment industry. This field is highly regulated and controlled. The authors make the assertion that unless corporations begin blogging they will whither. I don’t believe that applies to all industries. Specifically, I don’t see the financial industry ever widely using blogs. It’s already so heavily regulated that any dialogue/communication with shareholders must first be reviewed and approved by lawyers knowledgeable of industry regulations. For example a discussion of upcoming stock or mutual fund offerings without proper documentation can bring about serious penalties.
Moreover, I disagree with the authors that blogging will become as big as the Internet. I just don’t see this happening. While I agree that blogging has a place at some companies and in specific industries, it’s not a “do or die” situation for companies as the authors make it out.