Forbes’ Angle on Blogging

November 10, 2005

When you look at me from the right angle I bear an uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt. Seriously. Like in dim light. When you’re squinting. A couple of drinks wouldn’t hurt, either. But it’s getting just the right angle that’s critical. And an angle is exactly what Forbes has on blogging in their recent diatribe against the phenomenon. It’s not so much that what they’re saying is untrue, it’s that it gives people the wrong idea about the whole package. Kind of like seeing me in just the right light; perhaps I do look like Brad Pit under the above circumstances, but that sure doesn’t make me resemble him in a more general way. And just because people employed by one company use blogs to make unfair speech about another company that doesn’t mean that blogging is bad.

What blogging really is about is a lot of people talking to each other on a scale previously only available to a few. That’s the core of the phenomenon, and indeed of the entire web. It’s people being able to say whatever they want to whomever cares enough to listen. People caring about things together completely irrespective of geographical separation. A global conversation.

What of the interest of business? Should they have no recourse against slanderous web content? I’m betting they already have laws on their side, we just need to figure out how to meaningfully apply them in the a fast-paced world of the web.

But again, this misses the much larger point businesses need to be thinking about with regard to the web: they need to embrace it as a means of having a conversation with their customers. I’m talking about entering into a real and genuine dialogue with the people who use your products and services. Even if they punctuate badly and use the F-word occasionally. If you don’t talk with them eventually someone else will. Your choice.

Someone sent me a printed copy of the Forbes article at work. I found it on the web and bookmarked it but now it’s inaccessible so it would do no good to link you to it. One wonders what would happen if Forbes invited its online readers (if it has any) to openly discuss the article on their web site. Perhaps they would learn something about the web beyond the fact that people sometimes use it to say things that aren’t true. I bet they would get an earful – or my name’s Brad Pitt.


No comments yet

  1. Sometimes I think companies need to pay more attention to their customers.

    And sometimes, customers need to stop whining and trying to scam.

    Sometimes thing really go wrong and were handled bad, and sometimes it’s just ranting and whining.

    Like e-mail groups and message boards, blogs have the magic shield on anonymity that often seems to make people express themselves less eloquently than they would in person. So companies not only have to deal with more public whining, but less behaved public whining. And speaking as someone forever scarred by retail, customers can be awfully icky.

    I guess it’s the same as in anything…better to use the power for good and not evil.

  2. I’m all for being nice to people, especially hardworking retail people who end up being the face of the company to everyone. But they aren’t the ones who need to dialogue more, they already know what people are saying. It’s the decision-makers who need to participate in the discussion.

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