Blogs and Blogging

Originally published on June 19, 2017

39th in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 50 in KM 102)

Blogs: web sites where posts are made (such as entries in a journal or diary), displayed in a reverse chronological order; often provide commentary or news on a particular subject; some function as personal online diaries or logbooks; combine text, images, and links to other blogs and web sites; typically provide archives in calendar form, local search, syndication feeds, reader comment posting, trackback links from other blogs, blogroll links to other recommended blogs, and categories of posts tagged for retrieval by topic

Blogs are a way of empowering users to express their ideas, record their thinking, and link to others who are doing the same. Organizations can use blogs to communicate, solicit comments, and engage in online conversations. Blogs serve as a good archive of communications, since each post is stored by date, and it is possible to search just within a specific blog to find previous posts.

For knowledge management, blogs are good tools for communications, personal knowledge management, and social networks. As a communications tool, they are available online, can be easily searched, and can be syndicated and subscribed to using RSS or other feeds.

For personal knowledge management, blogs offer a way of keeping a journal of insights, techniques, pointers, and contacts. They are the modern version of lab notebooks, and can be easily shared with others to allow them to take advantage of what the blogger has recorded.

For social networks, blogs provide a way to connect those with ideas on related topics. Features typically used in blogs that enable these connections include blogrolls linking to other blogs, comment entry forms to allow others to respond to blog posts, and trackbacks linking to other blogs that reference blog posts.

Blogs can eliminate the need for web sites and newsletters, which may be more costly to maintain. Individual departments can each be given their own blogs, which can feature a photo of the department manager and link to the organization chart. News items can be entered as blog posts, and subscriptions can be offered as RSS feeds. Separate web site maintainers and newsletter editors are thus no longer needed.

External blogs offer a way for customers and partners to interact with an organization. By inviting comments on external blogs and replying to those comments, an organization can demonstrate its transparency, responsiveness, and customer awareness. It can also receive useful suggestions, timely alerts about problems, and helpful feedback on products and services.

Q&A

Q1: What is a blog?

A1: A blog is an online diary that you share with others. The term is a shortened form of “web log.” Blogs are made up of posts, or fragments of articles. Posts are typically organized on the page newest to oldest. Blogs are used to post regular updates, solicit comments, and take advantage of syndication capability.

Q2: Why blog?

A2: If you want to share and openly communicate with others, blogging is a good way to do this. Why not use email lists, newsgroups, forums, etc.? Blogging is easy. Blogging is personal. Blogs are good for communicating when there is a need for permanent links, receiving comments, and navigation by date or topic. And blogs provide a chronological archive which can easily be searched.

Q3: What does a blogger do?

A3: Bloggers publish regular blog posts, link to other blogs, comment on other blogs, and respond to comments on their blogs.

Q4: How can blogs be accessed?

A4: A blog’s web site displays the most recent post first, followed by previous posts. There is a calendar showing the dates for previous posts. Syndication through RSS feeds enables individual subscriptions and aggregation. Multiple blogs can be aggregated into a common site showing the latest posts from all blog sources. And many blogs offer the ability to subscribe using email.

Q5: How were blogs used internally at HP?

A5: HP.com had external blogs (now on HPE.com). HP people used internal blogs mostly for expressing their ideas and insights, but there were a few other cases.

The leader of one business group was passionate about Web 2.0 and began blogging internally. This generated a lot of activity, including new bloggers and many comments from employees with suggestions for innovation.

Some people used their blogs as laboratory notebooks, journals, and electronic notepads. This provided them with an archive of what they have learned, and at the same time, makes it available to others who can also benefit.

I used my internal blog to store each issue of Knowledge Sharing Weekly, an internal newsletter distributed through an email subscription service. Using a blog for the archives enabled people to subscribe to its RSS feed if they preferred to receive it that way, or to read it online.

The volume of internal blogs and posts rapidly increased. At one time, there were over 200 internal employee blogs.

Q6: I am starting a blog. I am currently exploring the features of different blog hosting sites. Which ones would you recommend and why?

A6: I suggest the following — all except Typepad offer free services:

  1. Blogger — Example
  2. LinkedIn — Example
  3. Medium — Example
  4. Quora — How To — Example
  5. Tumblr — Example
  6. Typepad — Example
  7. WordPress — Example

For internal blogs, see Q8 below. For more information, see Choosing a Blog Platform by Darren Rowse.

Q7: Can you explain the difference between a blog and a forum?

A7: A blog is a one-to-many form of communication, usually read by visiting the web site or through an RSS feed reader. It is well-suited to supporting personal expression, news updates, personal note taking or journal writing, links between the blogs of multiple bloggers, and comments from blog readers.

A forum is threaded discussion, also known as a bulletin board or listserv, which is a many-to-many form of communication. It is well-suited to supporting a community of practice or a community of interest. Typically, forums can be used by visiting the web site or entirely by email, and in some cases, read through an RSS feed reader. The email option makes them particularly popular.

Q8: Which platforms support internal blogs?

A8: Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 offer blog functionality, as do many competing collaboration platforms.

Q9: How do you promote a blog?

A9: See my answer.

Q10: Where are your blog posts?

A10: See Blog Posts.

Insights

1. Understanding the difference between Forums, Blogs, and Social Networks by Jeremiah Owyang

  • Forums are like social mixers, where everyone is at equal level, milling about and discussing with others. These many-to-many communication tools allow anyone to start a topic and anyone to respond to one. Members are often at equal level, and content is usually segmented by topic. (rather than by people).
  • Blogs are like a keynote speech where the speaker (blogger) is in control of the discussion, but allows questions and comments from the audience. Blogs are journals often authored by one individual, and sometimes teams. In the context of business communication, these are often used to talk with the marketplace and to join the conversation that existing external bloggers may be having.
  • Social Networks are like topic tables at a conference luncheon. Ever been to a conference where different lunch tables had big white signs inviting people to sit and join others of like interest? It’s like that. Social networks allow members to organize around a person’s relationships or interests, rather than just focused on topic. People that know each other (or want to meet each other) will connect by a variety of common interests. These are great tools to get people of like interest to connect to each other and share information.

2. Why Blogging Matters by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

There are six key differences between blogging and any other communications channel. These are the Six Pillars of Blogging:

  1. Publishable: Anyone can publish a blog. You can do it cheaply and post often. Each posting is instantly available worldwide.
  2. Findable:Through search engines, people will find blogs by subject, by author, or both. The more you post, the more findable you become.
  3. Social: The blogosphere is one big conversation. Interesting topical conversations move from site to site, linking to each other. Through blogs, people with shared interests build relationships unrestricted by geographic borders.
  4. Viral: Information often spreads faster through blogs than via a news service. No form of viral marketing matches the speed and efficiency of a blog.
  5. Syndicatable: By clicking on an icon, you can get free “home delivery” of RSS-enabled blogs into your e-mail software. RSS lets you know when a blog you subscribe to is updated, saving you search time. This process is considerably more efficient than the last- generation method of visiting one page of one web site at a time looking for changes.
  6. Linkable: Because each blog can link to all others, every blogger has access to the tens of millions of people who visit the blogosphere every day.

You can find each of these elements elsewhere. None is, in itself, all that remarkable. But in final assembly, they are the benefits of the most powerful two-way Internet communications tool so far developed.

3. The new era of social business by Nigel Fenwick

Start an IT leadership blog. Show your commitment to social technology leadership by starting your own blog and encouraging your IT leadership team to do the same. Far from being a waste of time, an internal blog is a powerful vehicle for regular communication with employees, allowing for more engagement than traditional e-mail. For example, you can write a blog to engage IT staff while sharing your perspectives on the company, IT or technology. Plenty of CIOs and IT leaders tweet and blog regularly in the public domain. For example, Linda Cureton, CIO at NASA, maintains a regular blog, mixing news and opinion on everything from leadership challenges to staff changes.

4. Knowledge or Opinion? by Nick Milton

So why is this question of validation so important? Partly because of the rise in blogging.

Blogging in organisations is still a minority sport. If we follow the 90:9:1 rule that applies to wikis, and apply it to blogs, then out of every 100 people in an organisation, one will actively and routinely blog. 9 might read the blog and comment, and maybe post some small items of their own, while 90 will never contribute. If we take blogs to be knowledge, we are only sampling one or two percent of the organisation, and what we find is mostly opinion, and can be a small minority opinion.

There are exceptions to this — subject matter experts or community leaders in an organisation may publish blogs where they share validated community knowledge, for example. I saw one organisation where the head of data security used a blog to share changes in procedures and new best practices, which really were validated knowledge and which the organisation was expected to follow. Apart from these exceptions, the majority of blogs (including this one) are individual opinion.

5. Enterprise 2.0–2006 rewind by Matt Moore

If we give people in organizations blogs, they will write lots of stuff in these blogs. Nope. The vast majority of them won’t.

6. OK, so I might’ve said “blogs and wikis are dead” by James Robertson

Let’s face it, blogs have struggled within the enterprise. It’s a great idea to give a voice to senior management and key experts, but people are hesitant to take up the baton. In part, it’s the name “blogs”, which can be quite intimidating. It also takes real commitment to keep blogging, and it’s hard to sustain in the medium to long term.

Why not just add commenting to news? And then open up news so that most (all?) staff can post news items. (See Enable commenting on intranet news.) Better this than a separate “blog central” that competes with other communication channels.

7. Blogging for Business by Gautam Ghosh

a. Attributes of a blogger

  1. “Peripheral vision”
  2. Passionate about one’s subject
  3. Witty, Sense of Humor
  4. Guts to have a point of view
  5. Conversational
  6. Sensitive to others, thick skinned for criticism

b. The best way to start

Advice from David Weinberger (quoted in Business Blogs: A Practical Guide)

  • Try it out. What can it hurt?
  • Write about what matters to you
  • The more links the merrier
  • Write quickly and hit the “post” button. It’s liberating

I would add:

  • Comment on others’ blogs
  • Have faith in serendipity

Examples

1. HP Internal

2. HP External

3. Deloitte Internal

4. Deloitte External

Resources

  1. Can you give 5 reasons to start a blog?
  2. Knowledge Management Blogs
  3. Knowledge Management Communications
  4. 8 reasons for working out loud and narrating your work
  5. The Executive Blogger’s Guide to Building a Nest of Blogs, Wikis, and RSS by Christopher Graves
  6. How To Start a Blog — Beginner’s Guide for 2017 by Jessica Knapp
  7. How to Start a Blog in Less than 10 Minutes by Zac Johnson
  8. 5 reasons why your company should run an internal blog by BlogIn
  9. Why Your Organization Needs an Internal Blog by Melissa Del Monte
  10. Why your business needs an internal blog by Brad Chacos
  11. To blog or not to blog — Internal or corporate blogs by Mike Morrison
  12. 6 CEO blogs to inspire your internal comms by Daniel Simbrey
  13. 40 of the best corporate blogs to inspire you by Niall Harbison and Lauren Fisher
  14. Seth Godin: How to write a blog post — Write like a blogger
  15. Mary Abraham
  16. APQC: Blogging to Deliver More Than Hits at MITRE — Blogs: An Overview of Tools Used for Knowledge Management
  17. Mark Schenk: Internal blogging builds trust in leadership — Blogging has a role in culture change
  18. Leaders blogging by Shawn Callahan
  19. Patrick Lambe: Blogs Can Calm the Raging Sea — Using Blogs in the Enterprise
  20. Jack Vinson: Blogs — Blogging and Knowledge communities — is there a connection?
  21. Nick Milton: Blogs — Why you should not ask your senior managers to blog
  22. Euan Semple: Blogs — Blogging
  23. What blogs and wikis bring to business and knowledge management by Bill Ives
  24. Dave Snowden
  25. David Weinberger: Blogs — What blogging was
  26. Luis Suarez: I Will Dispense This Advice on Blogging — Why Blogging Still Matters

Books

  1. Business Blogs: A Practical Guide by Bill Ives and Amanda Watlington
  2. Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
  3. Blogging by Jill Walker Rettberg
  4. Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them by Bob Walsh
  5. Write Blog Posts Readers Love: A Step-By-Step Guide by Henri Junttila