Posts tagged ‘blogging’

Thoughts from the Top

During class a few weeks ago we took a look at a wide variety of corporate blogs. What caught my interest were the blogs by CEOs. Even at my relatively small, nonprofit organization, the majority of the employees are only exposed to our CEO’s thoughts during monthly staff meetings. And while our CEO is constantly traveling, networking, speaking at conferences, and collaborating with others in the education world, he can’t possibly reach as many people as he might through a blog.

Besides finding the time to blog, I think the challenge for CEO bloggers might be blogging with an honest voice. In Naked Conversations, Scoble and Israel write, “If you are going to blog, be authentic. Keep your conversations naked. Let people know who you are and where you are coming from.”

I think Ted’s Take, by Ted Leonsis, is a great example of a CEO blog. Leonsis is vice chairman emeritis of AOL, chairman of Revolution Money, owner of the Washington Capitals hockey team, an active philanthropist, an avid blogger…the list goes on and on. But despite all those impressive credentials, Ted blogs like an average guy. Sure – not everyone can write about their thoughts and experiences as the owner of a professional sports team. But Ted writes about these extraordinary experiences in a very down-to-earth and accessible way. In short, he blogs authentically. He also intersperses his team owner and CEO-type blog posts with random everyday thoughts on everything from the stupidity of Step Brothers to how he’s spent his summer “vacation.

Blog Maverick, by Mark Cuban, is another example of a great CEO blog. Like Leonsis, Cuban is an entrepreneur and owner of a professional sports team (the Dallas Mavericks). And like Leonsis, Cuban blogs about social media, the pro sports world, and movies, all with an authentic voice.

But not everyone’s a fan of CEO blogging. The Vancouver Sun recently published an article about corporate blogging that stated:

These [CEO blogs] seem to be the first thing marketers look at when thinking about implementing corporate blogs. Don’t fall into this trap. Unless your CEO has the passion, desire, time and dedication to commit to frequently blogging and to curate the comments, I’d avoid this at all costs.

I generally agree with this statement. I think Cuban and Leonsis are exceptions to the CEO rule because they’re passionate about blogging and willing to devote the time to it. I think their blogs also work because they function largely independently from their various business endeavors and aren’t riddled with obvious self promotion.  In short, forced blogging and self promotion kill authenticity.

July 26, 2008 at 1:21 am Leave a comment

Who Is Eduwonkette?

Education blogs have been buzzing lately over the identity of eduwonkette, an Education Week blogger who isn’t afraid to put herself in the middle of some contentious education policy and research debates. Maybe it’s her bullish nature that causes some bloggers to take issue with her anonymity. Or maybe it’s the topics she chooses to take on. After all, almost everyone excuses anonymous teacher bloggers who write about their classrooms, students, and life in the trenches. But the scope of eduwonkette’s writing isn’t as narrow as that of a teacher blogger. She analyzes and critiques prominent education research, policy decisions, and public figures. And she does this all under the very visible auspices of Education Week – the weekly newspaper in the education world.

The latest debate about her identity seems to have been fueled by an article in the New York Sun, “An Anonymous Blogger Becomes Thorn in City’s Side,” which describes eduwonkette’s influence and how she has been incredibly frank in her disagreement with some of the decisions made by Mayor Bloomberg and New York City’s Department of Education. The article says Andrew Rotherham, the man behind another prominent education blog called Eduwonk, challenged eduwonkette’s decision to write her blog anonymously.

“I don’t think this is going to be remembered as Ed Week’s finest hour,” he said. “It’s this issue of you got all this information to readers, without a vital piece of information for them to put it in context.”

Meanwhile, Jay Greene, an education researcher, disagrees with eduwonkette’s belief that it’s important to consider the source of a paper or study when determining its credibility. He challenges eduwonkette to change her viewpoint and agree with him, or reveal her true identity:

“I caught her [eduwonkette] in a glaring contradiction: she asserts that the credibility of the source of information is an important part of assessing the truth of a claim yet her anonymity prevents everyone from assessing her credibility.  I prefer that she resolve this contradiction by agreeing with my earlier defense of her anonymity that the truth of a claim is not dependent on who makes it.  But she has to resolve this one way or another — either she ends her anonymity or she drops the argument that we should assess the source when determining truth.”

Hmm…. Does this debate distill down to the fact that these education movers and shakers are unsettled by eduwonkette’s critiques and are simply taking cheap shots at her concealed identity as a result? Or is it truly irresponsible for eduwonkette to publicly criticize others behind the cartoon figure of an education superwoman?

For her part, eduwonkette writes:

“Blogging is free-form exchange, and the blogger is judged by the quality of his or her arguments and content by readers who seek out the blogger. Blogs are grassroots online communities where everyone, irrespective of their identity, is entitled to an opinion.”

One could argue that even with a concealed identity, the eduwonkette blog is still at the mercy of public scrutiny. And Alexander Russo, when he’s not “confessing” to being eduwonkette, suggests anonymous blogging can allow for complete candor.

I’m not sure what I think. I do know that I’m not changing my mind about blogging anonymously (not that I’ve tried particularly hard to keep my identity a secret). I don’t want to have to second guess whether every little thing I type will come back to haunt me, my employer, or any future employers. In other words, while I strive to write responsibly, I appreciate that I can be open and honest. Meanwhile, I like that eduwonkette’s views are promoting interesting online discourse. The edblog world is a little spicier with her in it.

July 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Blogging Across the Border

In Naked Conversations, Scoble and Israel say that Spanish is the language of only about 50,000 blogs, “fewer than probably exists on North America’s West Coast.” While that number has likely increased by quite a bit since their book was published, it’s safe to say that the Spanish-speaking world is late to blogging, particularly corporate blogging.

With that in mind, I headed to Global Voices Online to learn more about Mexico’s blogosphere.

While it’s tough for me to make any sort of generalization about blogging in Mexico based on the handful of blogs I read, my overarching impression is that many Mexican bloggers seem to be citizen journalists who report on human rights issues, environmental concerns, and troublesome acts of violence.  (I’m talking about relatively “light” citizen journalism – the Mexican blogs I read don’t seem to be exposing injustices to the extent that some blogs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are doing.) Posts related to business, politics, and the economy seemed to be slightly less common.

One of the most interesting posts that I read focuses on how emo youths in the country have become targets of attacks. I had heard of emo music before, but hadn’t heard of “emo youths” before reading this post. According to La Plaza, a blog of the Los Angeles Times:

emos are a category of black-clad teenager known for their marked emotionalism—thus the name—and a sexually ambiguous fashion style that combines the dark look of Goth with childlike touches of pink and other bright colors (think Tim Burton meets Hello Kitty.)

Mexican bloggers report that a popular TV personality named Kristoff made derogatory on-the-air remarks about emos that may have instigated the attacks. Emos were reportedly hunt down and beat up in Queretaro,  Mexico City, Durango, Colima, and other cities. Fortunately, emos in Mexico have organized peaceful protests and are now enjoying an outpouring of support.

Another interesting blog, Latina Lista, provides a “viewpoint on anything and eveything from a Latina perspective.” Its author is Marisa Trevino, a journalist and public radio commentator. Many of Trevino’s recent posts focus on the U.S. presidential campaign from a Latina standpoint. She writes that Obama must go cara-a-cara (face-to-face) to win the Latino vote. She elaborates by stating that he must earn respect by putting in face time, developing relationships with Latino bloggers and media, and including Latino leadership within his campaign.

Other Mexican blogs focused on the total lunar eclipse, a stampede in a nightclub, and a Mexico City campaign to dispose of cell phones and batteries. I also stumbled across expat blog, a blog website “made by expatriates, for expatriates.” It hosts a number of expat blogs by country. For example, good2go2mexico describes a United States couple’s move to a Mexican casita that lacks electricty. Meanwhile, Mexico “Way” documents a Canadian’s life in Cancun.

This little foray into international blogging has taught me that reading international blogs is a great way to quickly tap into the personal opinions, views, and emotions of the rest of the world. Sure, it’s misguided to think that any one Mexican blogger encapsulates the overall opinion of Mexican people as a whole. But reading a dozen Mexican blogs at least provided me with a better awareness of some of the top-of-mind issues and concerns facing the country than I had two hours ago.

July 14, 2008 at 2:43 am Leave a comment

Press Credentials for Everyone! (Response to We the Media)

My first blog assignment is to identify what I think is the most important point in Dan Gillmor’s “We the Media” and explain why. But first, a quick word on Gillmor himself because I think it’s relevant. Gillmor spent years writing for mainstream newspapers including the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. More recently he founded Grassroots Media Inc., a project with the goals of “enabling grassroots journalism and expanding its reach.”

Gillmor’s personal journey echoes part of the progression of media that he describes in his book – the movement from the “big business of journalism” to grassroots journalism written for the people, by the people. I think the title of Gillmor’s book says it all: We the Media. The most important point he makes is that all the technology and innovations that fall under the umbrella term “new media” have cracked opened journalism so that, in Gillmor’s own words, “people at the edges [can] participate in the news gathering and dissemination processes.” In other words, it’s now incredibly easy for users or consumers of news to become producers of news. For example, anyone with an internet connection and a laptop can start a blog. Projects like OhmyNews, an online news service in which citizens act as reporters, epitomize the possibilities.

We the Media goes on to describe the implications of this transformation for business, newsmakers, and big media, among others. Given my role as a communications professional, I was particularly interested in Gillmor’s thoughts about how the public relations sector can harness new media to communicate smartly. He makes interesting points about how new media like chat rooms, discussion boards, blogs, RSS feeds, etc. enable pr professionals to listen and learn from their publics, create transparency, open lines of communication, solicit feedback from customers, distribute information widely, and engage in more fine-grained pitching.

One other observation – I think We the Media is particularly tough on business. Perhaps Gillmor’s years as a journalist has made him a bit cynical. The good thing is that instead of simply railing against companies for their shortcomings, Gillmor provides good examples of how business can (and must) use new media to learn from their customers and become more open and truthful. 

In short, the key point is that business, journalism, public relations, and politics can all be made better by listening to and enabling the participation of the average Joe.

June 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm 1 comment

Musing #1

Welcome everyone! I’m a part-time graduate student in a corporate communications/public relations master’s program at Georgetown University. I’m taking a social media class this summer and one of the class requirements is to start a blog.

While this is a class requirement, it’s also something I’ve secretly wanted to do for quite some time. I’ve blogged a little for my job (I work at an education association), and I’ve been itching for a forum where I can write in my own voice about topics beyond education. So stay tuned for reactions to my class reading assignments, as well as some additional posts about whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment!

May 21, 2008 at 12:55 am Leave a comment


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