Friday, November 03, 2006

The World is Blogged

Web logs are just one symptom of a world going global

Remember all the hype about globalization? The Global Village was all about acting locally, and thinking globally. Well that's fine if you're a multinational. What if you're just me? Do Blogs guarantee exposure?

Well, although the internet gives all of us the power to fly around the world faster than Superman, to have god-like omnipresence (at least in terms of our latest thoughts and ideas)all the same rules that applied in our smaller domains (like our homes and offices) still apply to us wherever we are. If people switch off when you're having a conversation, or if they find you boring or uninspiring in your hometown, chances are your www-debut will have the world yawning and distracted too.

It's interesting that in these big blockbuster flicks, when they create an incredibly powerful character, they have to, at the same time, create its nemesis. Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan have Darth Vader (Jedi vs Sith), Neo has Agent Smith, God has The Devil, Superman has Lex Luthor/Kryptonite and Blogs have Obscurity.

Isn't the mortal enemy of the Blogger an audience who has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to all the "errors" in someone else's blog, and simply doesn't see the virtue of your MYSPACE. No, the mortal enemy of your blog is you.

While technology continues to empower little old me and you, even with the latest craze taking blogs by storm (video blogs) the same principles remain. For an audience to care about what you're broadcasting you have to have invested yourself in it. In other words, for a quality audience (one that keeps coming back), your communication ought to be of some quality.

And what is quality? Something that has value, interest or usefulness to the subscriber, or the reader.

So, if the the mortal enemy of your blog is you, how to stop yourself from committing blogicide (or spreading bloredom). Here's a simple guide to generate hits on your blog:

1) Write about what interests you (and not a fly buzzing against a window interesting, something that gives you a kick - anything from cleavage to chocolate to what you love about your cellphone)

2) Serialize or maintain a theme (brands work because we know what to expect from them. Your blog can cover everything from ants to zebras, but give us -and yourself- a general framework to work from)

3) Get soapie (soaps are a very popular form of content and have a specific formula that includes multiple plots, no definite closure, and constant a constant build-up of tension. A blog about your life, where you're able to demonstrate characters without being too indiscrete, presents an awesome opportunity to be marketed. But ask yourself: would I want myself or my family caricatured or branded? Some would argue that Blogging is a self-styled Branding of a sort.)

4) Write well, polish and then edit it (have you ever read even a well written piece, only to find first one error, then another. It's shocking, it's like an elbow in the ribs)

5) Be relevant (write about your world, especially the characters in it)

6) Decorate (the kindergarten rules still apply. No one likes a mess, or pages and pages of italics on white: people like color and pictures, and a neat, dynamic presentation

7) Be consistent (would you buy a newspaper that published once a week, then once a month? Be clear and consistent when you'll be updating your masterpiece. People are sensitive and can be disappointed once to often, when they visit a website that hasn't changed (updated) a 4th visit in a row.

8) Interact (this is potentially a powerful way of connecting, and insuring your blog is on the right track. One simple way to induce interest is to send emails to friends and remind them to visit your blog, or so direct them to an interesting story -- especially one that features them).

Blogs are just one symptom of a world going global. When the world becomes flat, it shrinks. Today we can fly anywhere, cheaply and quickly. We can see the news around the clock. We can call customer service and speak to someone in Mumbai, Scotland or South Africa. Our computers are assembled using parts in up to 40 countries. Our supermarkets are filled with stuff shipped all the way from China, New Zealand and everywhere else.

Blogs are part of this process, of shrinkage. You can meet people without flying to Turkey, Hawaii, Poland and Pennsylvannia, and then decide whether you'd want to. A person somewhere can read what a person somewhere else, thousands of kilometers away, was thinking, what they do where they are and whether it's relatively fun/useful/profitable etc to do so. They can view pictures of that person at a party, even though they might never set foot either in that club, city, or country. In cavemen terms, this is a shocking revolution in human connectivity. And it's also not just a matter of stumbling onto someone elses cave: you can Google your way through the labyrinths out there, to very specific information, and increasingly, very specific people.

Blogs give a voice to you and me. Potentially, especially if we're experienced travelers, or a silent majority, or a lone voice of reason, crying out in the wilderness, our voices, once online, become hard to ignore. Google's algorithms* see to it that in Cyberspace there's also survival of what's-most-important. And in the world of www, it's simply what's-on-everyone's-mind at a particular point in time.

Blogs have the potential to create multiple tipping points (politically, socially, even in terms of popular held beliefs, religion etc). Expect ever greater change in the world, as one innovative voice after another is added to our Media Context. Each new domain, adding to the consciousness of our world, and connecting all the bits and pieces to create a whole more valuable than the sum of its parts. But this can only happen when bloggers learn to write.

Perhaps we'll see Bools (Schools for Bloggers) one day, or courses at university designed to get everyone up to speed. A Blog is no different from a business card that unwraps into a kaleidoscope of pictures and words.

When the world is blogged, the ability of one blog to attract attention over another may well define how people, writers or technicians, are recruited in a world that has become increasingly about one thing: connectivity. And what else is connectivity other than effective and consistent communication.

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