A Couple of Weblog Thoughts

by john on May 13, 2003

The ComputerWorld story Blogs play a role in homeland security [via Sam Ruby] is fairly light fluff, but it’s an interesting sign of things to come. We continue to see stories on enterprise weblogging and it’s particularly interesting to see it associated with a major buzzword like homeland security.

Can’t disagree with this quote:

Weblogs can also benefit corporate cultures, analysts said. “Knowledge management systems are often so formal and top-down-driven that the normal worker sees no benefit in using them or contributing,” said James Gaskin, an IT consultant in Dallas. “Blogs, like e-mail, flatten the hierarchy and let everyone contribute without having to stare down a suit at a meeting or contradict a manager in person.”

Dave says AOL/Time Warner has 400 people working on a weblog component for AOL. He speculates that Microsoft can’t be far behind. I agree. In fact I think it’s the one reason why we are seeing a proliferation of Microsoft Bloggers – they recognize it as a possible disruptive technology and they are encouraging their employees to participate and report back to the mother ship their findings. It won’t be too long before you’ll see Microsoft xLogger and Microsoft xRSSer on store shelves. Kuro5hin has some well-written thoughts on the subject of Microsoft Bloggers, even though I don’t agree with his assertion that this isn’t a formal push.

I don’t see how you could read these comments by Bill Gates and come away thinking anything other than Microsoft is going to get into this space in a big way. By encouraging their employees to blog they are setting the stage for exactly what Bill says they did with Expedia:

That sort of bottom-up publishing capability has really exploded in a certain way. Blogging [lets you] decide if, essentially, your regular diary being there, being accessible to everyone, is a very important thing. In these early years, Microsoft decided we wanted to make sure our technology was very strong for these applications. And the way we thought we’d understand how to do that was by doing a number of high volume Web sites ourselves. We did Expedia, which is a travel web site. That was just getting going in 1997. We did some city local information sites that later became part of City Search. And there was no boundary, because the software really was the key thing, inventing the way that you would keep a site like that, to perform, make it rich, was very much a state-of-the-art problem.

Now, as Expedia evolved, we got a clear sense of what was required technically, and we took those lessons and made that technology available to everyone, including people doing competitive sites.

By getting their developers involved with blogging they are generating that clear sense of what is required technically and I believe they will be attempting to address the problem quickly.

I wouldn’t bet against them.


ScottMcG May 16, 2003 at 5:58 pm

How much can blogs change corporate communications if upper management controls access to the blogs? Supposedly, my employer has an intranet site that any employee can post information too, but in reality it is controlled by a few people. After jumping through hoops for weeks to post documentation that I wrote to the site, I just gave up and distributed it via email. I do not see how blogs would be any different.

john May 24, 2003 at 5:52 am

I think what you’ll see Scott, especially in organziations like you describe, is that blogs start at the grass-roots level – either the individual or the department. By the time they get on the radar screen of those who wish to control such information it may just be too late.

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