It may seem presumptuous to address that question barely a week after my first foray into the blogosphere. But the question seems pertinent this weekend as I read through the email comments I’ve received after launching this blog.
There’s been some kind words of praise: “insightful” and “impressive” says one new reader. “Cool” says another, who generously introduced me to FeedBurner’s (http://www.feedburner.com) Colorado technology and entrepreneurs blogger network. Others seem puzzled, but polite. And no one, thus far at least, has gone so far as to label this new venture what it ultimately may prove to be — a colossal waste of time.
The most thought-provoking comments to date come from my former Electronic Business magazine colleague Bill Roberts, a veteran business journalist who’s been around the block long enough to know a thing or two.
“Frankly I’m blogged out,” writes Bill. “There are too many blogs and too much blather. My fear is we as a culture are blogging on and on and not attending to the real problems we face. . . . I’m tired of blogs. Rome burns and we all blog…”
Hard to argue with that. Clearly there’s a shallowness and self-absorbed, self-referential quality about much of what passes for commentary and content in the world of blogs that’s downright irritating. Any medium that devotes this much attention to celebrities, pets, geeks, teen diaries and extreme political rants deserves to be treated with cautious skepticism.
A particular point of concern to those of us in journalism is how the opinions and “insights” of bloggers — most of whom conduct no original reporting or research — often are given equal weight to those of us who do this for a living, and often have spent years getting to know a particular subject.
Big, corporate-owned media certainly has its faults and biases, but the day it finally fires all the journalists and switches to the much cheaper option of bloggers writing about other bloggers is the day we’re all in very big trouble. (insert your own rant here about the First Amendment, the watchdog role of the Fourth Estate, the decline of modern civilization, etc.)
Yet it’s hard to ignore the sheer magnitude and momentum of this social media phenomenon. Blog search firm Technorati (http://www.technorati.com) is now following more than 70 million blogs, up from 50 million scarcely a year ago. And it’s no longer just teens and tech geeks that are blogging. These days even companies — running the gamut from IBM, Microsoft and HP to McDonald’s and General Motors — are posting blogs on a variety of topics.
And yes, you can apparently teach an old dog to blog. I recently came across a new blog (http://www.blogs.marriott.com)
from 74-year-old Bill Marriott, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Marriott International, who in recent weeks has begun to comment on topics ranging from recycling, immigration, education and the Mormon Church, to his company’s 80 years in the hospitality industry.
It’s not clear whether Mr. Marriott is doing the actual writing himself, but the ideas seem to be his own. For investors, customers and competitors, Marriott’s blog provides new insights into this $12 billion company that runs nearly 3,000 hotels worldwide. It also helps to put a human face on a unique corporate culture that otherwise might be obscured by the usual corporate posturing, positioning and blather.
If Bill Marriott isn’t afraid to stick his neck out into cyberspace, why should the rest of us be?