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Misty-coloured memories…

Misty-coloured memories… published on 2 Comments on Misty-coloured memories…

It was a more innocent time, wasn’t it? A time when conversation could flow through pings and trackbacks… when Bloglines was the newsreader to beat… when all the cool kids were talking about and folksonomies.

In retrospect, it was too good to last. Oh, well… I guess it goes to show: you can’t go ∼ again.

Meanwhile, congratulations and a certain amount of awe to SMBC’s Zach Weiner, who posted his 2000th cartoon today. Tsk – kids these days. Way too much work ethic.

Cartoon originally posted on

Last RSSpects

Last RSSpects published on No Comments on Last RSSpects

(originally posted at BlogWorld)

It can be hard to admit, but blogs have a life cycle – and, in some cases, a best-before date that may be well in the past. Your passion for the subject matter wanes; other interests beckon; your readers and commenters, maybe sensing your faltering commitment, move on to other venues.

And that’s okay. There’s no shame in saying that a blog has run its course. But as Allison wrote in a post on BlogWorld last week, even the most moribund of blogs may not be beyond resuscitation (and she offered a few suggestions for virtual CPR).

If you’re starting to notice the unpleasant smell of decay whenever you visit your blog, here are a few more ideas for bringing it back to life:

  • Redefine the subject. If your interests have changed, then let your readers know you’ll be introducing a new topic, and shifting the emphasis there.
  • Redefine the scope. If your blog died because you couldn’t keep up with the expectations you set around frequency, depth or comprehensiveness, then dial that back. Focus your energies more narrowly. Maybe instead of daily wall-to-wall coverage of a subject, you want to post twice a week on one aspect of it – and one of those posts is a collection of links, instead of your usual 20-paragraph essays.
  • Call in reinforcements. If you don’t think you can do it alone, but you have one or more colleagues or friends with similar interests and solid blogging skills, see if they’d be interested in joining your blog. The mutual encouragement can go a long way to getting you past a slump.
  • Hand it over. Find someone who shares your passion – or the passion you once had – and transfer the blog to them. You’ll know that all your hard work will still be alive and appreciated; they’ll be able to launch with a built-in readership and traffic stream to build on.

Still not feeling it? If you’re sure it’s time to close the doors and turn off the lights, then go ahead. But let your readers know you’re doing it. And give serious consideration to keeping your blog online (with comments switched off if you don’t plan to reply to them, or weed out spam). It’ll serve as a resource for others… and, if your interest should be rekindled or your spare time suddenly reappear, you’ve left the door open to a return from the grave.

Blogging for Dummies

Blogging for Dummies published on No Comments on Blogging for Dummies

(cartoon also posted on Blogworld)

The debate over whether CEOs and other prominent folks should hire ghostwriters to blog for them is a thorny one.

On the one hand, blogging culture is conversational and personal; we assume we’re having a discussion with the real person, and not with an intermediary.

On the other hand, intermediaries are the rule, not the exception, when it comes to VIPs on nearly every other communications channel. Op-ed pieces and letters to the editor that bear their names are usually drafted by PR or legal departments. Underlings draft correspondence for senior executives, and then run it through signature machines (which, incidentally, are amazing to watch in action, in a steampunk kind of way). Speechwriters – you get the picture.

I suspect that if they could get away with it, a lot of executives would delegate things like quarterly earnings conference calls. (“You! Yeah, you – the guy who was imitating Steve Ballmer at last year’s Christmas party. How’d you like to try doing that again?”)

Back on that first hand, though, is the argument that blogs and other social media aren’t just any business communications channel. They’re personal. And if you want to build a relationship of trust, then you’ll need a level of both personal connection and transparency.

Which is why I think there’s a lot to say for Shel Holtz’s suggested compromise (which he wrote as someone who opposes ghost-written blogs, but acknowledges they may be inevitable):

And if a business leader ultimately does opt to have someone else handle the writing of the blog, he should disclose it. What’s the harm in a statement like this on an executive blog: “Welcome to my blog. Several times each week, I articulate my thoughts to Mary Jones, who runs communications for the company, and she posts them here ensuring that I make the points I want to make. But rest assured, while Mary makes me sound better, the messages you read are mine; they come from my heart and I read all the comments myself.”

Maybe we’ll start hearing the same thing in other channels. Such as speeches: “Before I begin, in the interests of full disclosure, I talked to my director of communications for about four minutes about this speech, and the broad structure. I understand it went through eighteen revisions, twelve of them pointless, although I had an opportunity for input in only two, and in each case, the draft sat on my desk untouched for three days. A complete list of the nearly two hundred people who drafted, edited, altered or redacted portions of this speech is available on our web site.

“I was supposed to read it on my flight over, but the inflight movie was Iron Man 2, and I got sucked into it. I couldn’t read it in the cab, because I get motion sick, and I fell asleep in my hotel room last night just before I was going to read it over. Therefore, like you, I can’t wait to find out what I’m about to say.”

Blogging was made possible by…

Blogging was made possible by… published on No Comments on Blogging was made possible by…

The new FTC guidelines for disclosure by bloggers have stirred up some anger among bloggers accustomed to getting free stuff and blogging about it without the heavy hand of governmental Big Brother yadda yadda – oh, you can finish the sentence yourself.

I can respect that it might get people’s backs up to suggest that their integrity is for sale, especially for such low prices. (Although, the last time I checked the exchange rate, integrity was down sharply against the dollar… and against the free chewing gum.) Then again, I’ve seen enough obviously feigned enthusiasm in some “reviews” to convince me that at least a few bloggers are happy to rent their voices – and readers – to any marketing department with a gift card and blogger outreach program.

All easy enough for me to say, of course; I have a job and make a pretty good living (touch wood). I can imagine that I might be tempted to modify my views if money was short and a blog review could put another meal on the table for my kids. Then again, for every blogger out there who’s struggling to make ends meet, there are countless more blog readers – the people the marketers are really trying to reach. Don’t they deserve to know about the relationship between product and blogger when they assess what they’re reading?

I’m a fan of disclosure, and while I haven’t examined the FTC guidelines in detail, I support the idea in principle.

But it’s interesting that the FTC went after bloggers rather than, say, entertainment writers who don’t mention the expensive junkets that movie studios take them on. A blogger who has to disclose that she or he received a free package of hot dog weiners has every right to feel burned after dropping fifty bucks to take the family to the latest “THRILLING!” “FANTASTIC!” “SURE-FIRE WINNER!”


2007-11-06-trackback published on No Comments on 2007-11-06-trackback