February 23, 2018

About Contributor Des Walsh

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Des Walsh is a business coach and blogging evangelist, which is a way of saying he is: * a trained listener, with the skills and tools to help business owners take serious action to realise their dreams * passionate about blogging and committed to showing business owners how they can use this technology so their business stands out in the market, no matter how crowded that market is. His Thinking Home Business blog provides information and guidance on blogging, social networking and home based business. He is moderator of the Linkedin Bloggers Group http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/LinkedinBloggers and a founding member of the International Association of Coaches http://www.certifiedcoach.org .

Posts by Des:

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

How Do You Say “Page Rank” in Arabic?

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 09/23/06

For any company doing business in Arabic-speaking countries or communities a good feed to have is for the Maktoob Business Blog.

Online since December 2005, the blog covers aspects of business in the Middle East, with a stated aim of focusing on marketing, advertising and media. There are several contributors.

The blog is a product of Maktoob Business – whose website banner claims that the group has the world’s largest Arabic community.

araby.com logo

A recent blog post reports on Maktoob’s newly-launched (beta) Arabic search engine, Araby.com, which Maktoob claims has a number of competitive advantages over the Arabic version of the engines developed first for English:

  • optimized to deliver Arabic-language results from Arabic sources
  • specialized search channels including Arabic news sites, photos, blogs and forums
  • a dedicated channel for searching Islamic topics

The press release here provides more detail and some pr elaboration.

Not being able to read Arabic, for me the Araby.com site is a closed book. But could Araby.com be a serious Arabic competitor to Google and Yahoo! A contender in its rather large niche? This blog post by one of the developers, Isam Bayazidi, sounds a cautionary note – it’s beta, he’s saying:

One thing for sure, Araby.com, and the verticals in it have a long way to go with development. We only released early to give users a peak into what is cooking, and get feedback on it.

Guidelines Needed for Government Employee Blogging

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 09/18/06
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Virginia Department of Business Assistance employee and dedicated blogger, Will Vehrs got a good result last month from the Commonwealth’s Department of Employment Dispute Resolution. The severity of disciplinary action against him for some blogging activity was reduced and the ten days’ pay that had been docked was ordered to be restored.

The story in summary form is at Virginia’s Daily Press site in the article State worker suspended over blog comments wins grievance. That’s not a blog post so I’m not sure about the archiving, but the story is told also on Townhall.com.

The bigger story here is that as an outcome of these events we have a landmark decision by a government agency, about public sector employee blogging, in the published findings of the Virginia Department of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR).

I am not a lawyer, but I have been a government executive and more recently a government sector consultant. I believe this document will prove very helpful to public service managers who take the time to read and ponder it, and to anyone who consults on blogging to government departments or agencies.

Not before time. Until now I have not been able to discover any really useful information, directly about government employee blogging, as distinct from coverage of general issues about employee blogging.

There are several well-cited codes or sets of guidelines on blogging by employees in the corporate sector, e.g. those from IBM, Sun Microsystems and Thomas Nelson. But to the best of my knowledge no one has yet produced a set of blogging guidelines for the public sector, or at least not so as to be readily accessible from an online search.

And my sense is that any public sector manager or blogging consultant asked right now to advise a government agency on, for example, blogging guidelines for employees, would have to cobble something together from the various corporate sector guidelines and codes of blogging conduct.

That would be better than nothing, but might not be enough to provide guidelines adequate to the challenge. Or at least might not be enough to satisfy the client that every area of risk or uncertainty has been covered adequately and in language that speaks to the government employment context.

There is also the issue of workable guidelines being developed for individual agencies, which, it could be inferred from the EDR decision, may be acting less than prudently in relying on blanket guidelines established on a ‘whole of government’ basis.

A related issue is that if a government agency permits (or encourages) employees to blog, there could be a need for some quantification of what constitutes acceptable use of ‘on the job’ time. As the EDR decision makes clear, one of the limitations on Virginia Department of Business Assistance (VDBA) managers’ ability to discipline employees over blogging was that the applicable policy, i.e. the Commonwealth’s policy on Internet usage, allowed for ‘incidental and occasional personal use’ of the Commonwealth’s internet access, but did not attempt to quantify that.

Nor, it seems, is a ‘common sense’ approach going to be necessarily adequate in itself. In Will Vehr’s case, the supervisor counseled him about use of the weblog, warning that he would have to be careful not to ‘cross the line’, to be careful about the frequency and content of his commentary, to use good judgment and make sure his commenting did not become a distraction. Those principles are pretty much in line with the various corporate guidelines, such as those mentioned above. But once a media storm blew up and politicians and community members got involved, the principles were not enough in themselves to enable the supervisor to discipline Vehrs in such a way that the action would hold up under the scrutiny of a grievance procedure.

An interesting side issue is that although Vehrs had a disclaimer posted on the blog stating that the views he expressed were his own, EDR found that the posting of the disclaimer was “not sufficient to insulate him from violation of the policy (that he was required to state that his communications were personal and not a ‘communication of the agency or the Commonwealth’)”. Which raises the question of what would constitute a disclaimer adequate for the purpose.

According to reports, such as that on the Townhall.com site, the VDBA’s solution to these interesting challenges to public administration has been fairly basic – ban blogging. Presumably that means blogging on the taxpayer’s time. Nothing is said in the reports I’ve seen about guidance on private blogging by a state employee, where similar guidelines surely need to be established as are included in corporate sector guidelines cited above.

A ban is not a policy. And while understandable in the circumstances, that outcome is not helpful for those of us who might be interested in seeing how a government agency would go about adopting a more nuanced policy approach.

So in the absence of such an approach and drawing on the EDR findings, here are some key points I would be looking to include in any set of guidelines for government sector blogging, in addition to principles already established for the corporate sector:

  • quantify what would constitute an acceptable – not necessarily recommended – upper limit of time over a given week for personal use of the employer’s internet access, on the employer’s time, for blogging
  • with due consideration to privacy issues, establish logging and archiving arrangements adequate to provide objective evidence of time spent in blogging, to assist in resolving any future dispute
  • advise employees fully, in writing, of any applicable law, overall service guidelines and any specific governmental, departmental, agency or unit guidelines
  • advise employees of the need to provide disclaimers in a prominent way, so that readers of their blog posts or comments understand that ‘their views are their own’
  • provide managers with appropriate guidance and training in their supervisory role regarding employee blogging and specifically on the need to be able to provide objective evidence of any alleged breach of guidelines, before proceeding to disciplinary action

I’m sure there are more principles and refinements to be included in any comprehensive set of blogging guidelines for government employees. On the other hand, I expect that some bloggers will regard even what I’m proposing here as unduly restrictive or onerous.

But whatever guidelines eventually emerge, public sector managers, and consultants advising the public sector, have reason to be grateful to Mr Vehrs for having taken his grievance to EDR, and grateful to that Department for publishing its decision online.

Kazaa Australia Boss Sues Canadian Blogger

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 08/16/06
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In a case which has evident implications for Canadian bloggers but also for bloggers worldwide, Kazaa Australia boss Nikki Hemming is suing Canadian blogger Jon Newton and others for defamation, on the basis of an article earlier this year on Newton’s p2pnet site, as reported in this week’s IT Today section of the national daily The Australian (not a hyperlink permalink, no guarantee it will be there indefinitely).

The suit is over material posted on p2pnet and anonymous comments on that post, some months ago at a time when Hemming was in court in a Sydney case. Included in the suit with Newton are his ISP and four John Doe, anonymous commenters. The article has since been removed from the p2pnet site.

Jon Newton is disputing the suit vigorously and observes that if Hemming wins the case ‘it’ll open the door even wider for lawsuits against Canadian bloggers’  .

Canadian internet law professor Michael Geist has commented on the case and its implications in his BBC Online article Free speech, libel and the internet age. Geist draws attention to how the legal frameworks in different jurisdictions have a variety of implications for internet intermediaries, such as internet service providers and even individual bloggers who allow comments.  

The difficult question is not whether these sites and services have the right to voluntarily remove offending content if they so choose – no one doubts that they do – but rather whether sites can be compelled to remove allegedly unlawful or infringing content under threat of potential legal liability.

The answer is not as straightforward as one might expect since the law in Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia varies depending on the type of content or the nature of the allegations.

Canadian media lawyer Dan Burnett also comments on the different treatments in different jurisdictions, in his statement as reported at the August 5 Toronto Freedom of Speech Online concert and benefit. Burnett sees Canada as being laggard in reforming the law and comments:

In addition to the reforms we are lagging behind already, the internet age raises some new and fundamental questions. How does the right of reply on wiki and reader-post sites affect the law? Are we going to hold site operators liable for automatic posts by others? Are (we) going to recognize a defense for a person who operates a public forum for debate?

So where are bloggers without ready resource to internet lawyers to go for advice on these matters?

It seems not uncommon for bloggers to refer, on defamation and other legal issues, to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Guide for Bloggers. That’s good as far as it goes, and there is some good advice in the document, but unless I’m missing something the document is a legal guide for the United States of America, not a global guide. (Actually, from a chat today with a lawyer friend very knowledgeable in these matters, I would seriously doubt whether a comprehensive global guide of any depth in this area is likely to emerge in the near or distant future.) 

Whatever the peculiarities of various legal jurisdictions, clearly some degree of prudence is needed in terms of what we post to our blogs and what we allow in terms of comments. Dave Taylor had some good advice on this in his post last year SEO Book’s Aaron Wall sued over comments on his weblog: Dave saw the case as ‘a wakeup call to business bloggers who haven’t yet thought through their own comment and comment moderation strategies’. 

And however the currrent case in Canada turns out, it too is clearly a call to look at the posting and comment moderation policies for our own blogs and those of any companies to which we consult.

Air Force Researches Blogs

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 07/6/06

According to a recent announcement by the US Department of Defense, a new study of blogs, to receive $450,000 in funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, is not about warblogging but about what sort of help blog research may provide in ‘fighting the war on terrorism’.

Two scientists at Framingham, Mass. Versatile Information Systems Inc., Dr. Brian E. Ulicny, senior scientist and Dr. Mieczyslaw M. Kokar, president, will be managing the project entitled “Automated Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of International Web Logs for the Timely Discovery of Relevant and Credible Information�.

Heady stuff.

I share some of blogger Tim Oren’s concern over the ‘ontologically-based’ part of the project description and the possible implication of a ‘one-theory-fits-all’ approach, especially in terms of cultural difference. But as Oren observes, there could be some useful civilian spinoff as well as militarily applicable outcomes.

I looked for signs of a blog, either corporate or individual, on the Versatile Information Systems website, but to no avail. Without knowing whether or not the scientists blog, I wondered which would be better for a scientific study of blogging, for the scientists to have practical, personal experience of blogging, or not?

And as a former public servant and sometime consultant to government, I wonder what possibilities this story suggests for further blogging research/consultancy in the government space?

Business Blog Consulting Contributors in MarketingSherpa Top Blog Awards

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 06/28/06

Good news on the blog awards front.

Blogs produced by John Jantsch and Andy Wibbels, contributors to Business Blog Consulting, have made it into MarketingSherpa’s Top 10 Blogs and Best Podcast for 2006.

MarketingSherpa, Inc. is a research firm publishing case studies, benchmark data, and how-to information for marketing, advertising, and public relations professionals. The Blog and Podcast Awards listing is based on a readers’ choice poll, following an email broadcast by MarketingSherpa to 237,000 readers, described as primarily marketing professionals in corporate America.

Voters were asked to rate blogs on the basis of personality, usefulness, design & readability, and the question ‘would you revisit?’ For each of these the quality choices were: excellent, not bad, blah.

The Best Blog on Small Business Marketing award went to John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing weblog, started in August 2003. This is the third year in a row that this award has gone to John’s blog. I’m not surprised.

I’ve always been amazed at the amount and frequency of quality information and observation by John on Duct Tape Marketing.

And I see that now, as posted here last week, John has upped the ante, transforming his one man blog into a blog channel, with twenty two contributors on various aspects of small business marketing. Now that’s leverage! And judging by a bit of a tour I’ve just done of sites within the channel, this is already a great resource for small business, with articles on all sorts of topics, from managing people, to PR, to how small businesses can sell to big businesses – you name it, I’m fairly sure it’s there.

Andy Wibbels, the ‘Original Blogging Evangelist’ and from my personal experience a great blogging coach and mentor, took out the award Best Blog on Marketing to a Specific Consumer Demographic for his Andy Wibbels site. The citation says: Andy’s blog tells marketers and blog-writers how to attract the blog-reading public. Andy is also author of best-selling ‘Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging’ and was an award winner in last year’s MarketingSherpa awards as well.

Congratulations John and Andy!

Debbie Weil has also posted about the MarketingSherpa awards on her BlogWrite for CEOs -  highlighting a few of her favorites among the winners and listing a few more blogs she recommends.



Major Hotel Group Launches TheLobby.com

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 04/18/06
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Preparing a workshop on blogging for people in the meetings and events industry, I went googling for hotel blogs. I found plenty of blog posts about hotel experiences, but not hotel corporate blogs, with one exception, the new blog launched by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, TheLobby.com, which is claimed to be the first blog launched by a major hotel company.

Graphically attractive in a fairly understated way, the blog is apparently aimed at ‘Starwood Preferred Guests’ (SPGs), although there is no sign of any section reserved exclusively for that group (not that that would need to be evident to a casual visitor).

Several posts are not much more than chatty plugs for one or other hotel in the Starwood group, which I’m sure could be helpful if, for instance, you were planning a trip to Tirana, the capital of Albania and needed to know which of the two international hotels to stay at if you want wireless internet (it’s the Sheraton) – see post of April 18, and see below why this is not hyperlinked.

The blog is evidently written by a group of travel writers – Marc S., Mark (Editor), Thomas C., Nick L. and Philip S. It seems odd, and frankly I found it irritating, that we are provided with no more identification than first names and some last name initials, especially the lastname initial bit – is there a ‘guess the travel writer’ test here for the designated SPG readership?

Although the April 13 item from which I picked up this story in iMedia Connection  (acknowledging the Wall Street Journal) says there is no provision for commenting, there is in fact a comments function and some posts already have comments. A scan of the disclaimer/warning that sits above the commenting screen suggests that the lawyers have been busy. It’s the most daunting piece of work I’ve seen on a blog comments page to date.

I could not find a permalink function. In what presents as a more traditional website fashion, you can search for archived posts on categories of brand, category (type of hotel), city, or country.

There is a pretty unobtrusive feedback link in the dark gray background area on the right side of the screen. When clicked, this produces a pop-up with a detailed questionnaire that I suspect only dedicated survey-takers will want to stay and complete.

From where I’m viewing it, TheLobby.com is basically a pr blog or even an adverblog, designed to cater to the already converted guests of this group of hotels – and it’s not suggested the publishers are offering anything else, although if the writers were given some more latitude it could no doubt turn into a travel blog with a potentially wider appeal. Calling it a ‘corporate blog’ as iMedia Connection has done, in spite of the fact that the blog doesn’t really speak for the Starwood group as a corporation, raises the question of just what constitutes, or should be recognized as, a corporate blog.

New CEO Blog Delights the Ducatisti

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 03/22/06

Ducati Monster bikeWhen I started riding motor bikes some years ago, for commuting and occasional touring, I was made aware by other riders that Ducati owners were a special breed of enthusiasts. And the machines themselves were clearly serious racing bikes, which I usually saw disappearing very quickly out in front of wherever I was.

I don’t know how many Ducati owners are blogging just now, but my hunch is that the number is about to rise with the news that Federico Minoli, the corporate turnaround man who took the reins at the Italian company some nine years ago, is one of the newest CEO bloggers on the block. Two weeks ago, Minoli and his company launched Desmoblog. The company announced at the time that the blog would tell what is happening at Ducati and in the world of its fans, as well as decisions about new products, Ducati events, business strategies, ‘behind the scenes’ news from the race track and more.

In his welcome to the blog, Minoli says:

This new space online gives me a new way to communicate with colleagues, fans and bikers about my life, my experience with Ducati, the company, the motorcycles and of course Ducati Corse (link added).

The blog and the company website design are seamlessly integrated, and the Desmoblog is bi-lingual, in English as well as Italian.

The announcement of the blog on the Ducati website presents the blog as providing for a dialogue directly between blogger and readers and offers the opportunity of sharing ‘the fever for Ducati’, receiving frank comments from fans and replying directly.

Podcasts are also foreshadowed.

The many comments on the Desmoblog site in just two weeks, some in English, some in Italian, suggest that the ‘Ducatisti’ tribe has taken up the challenge with gusto, as for example in the comments on Minoli’s After the race March 11 post from Daytona. 

I acknowledge Diego Rodriguez’s well-named metacool blog for the link and for interesting comments on the Desmoblog and its role in Ducati’s “tribal marketing” strategy.

Aussie Corporate Blogging with Comments from the Trenches

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 03/14/06
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Today, less than 48 hours away from doing a presentation about business blogging at an Australian Marketing Institute seminar in Sydney, I am rather pleased to see that the lead story in the national newspaper The Australian’s IT Business segment, is ‘Blogging the Brand’, by Chris Jenkins. Neat: I can expect that a reasonable number of my marketing industry audience tomorrow night will have read or at least skimmed this piece on corporate blogging and will be ready with some good, challenging questions. It helps too, that the article comes close on the heels of a page 3 story last weekend in the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Online buying frenzy as big business swoops on sites’, by highly respected journalist Tom Burton, about people making money from the web: about half of the article focuses on people making money from blogging.

Back to the article in The Australian. I found it quite informative, not so much for me in terms of  theories and broad observations about corporate blogging, but more because of comments from the trenches. I was particularly interested in the comments from Paul Crisp, ‘new media project leader’, responsible for the blogging operation at our major telco, one of Australia’s biggest corporations, Telstra, through its Now We Are Talking site, which has blogs by staff members as a feature.

Crisp acknowledges that Telstra had no Australian corporate blogging models to draw on, so had to adapt what it could learn from studying what US-based corporations were doing, such as Boeing, Microsoft and General Motors. He observes that Telstra does not need blogs to ‘push out’ information’, but sees blogs as giving the corporation a way to plug into public feedback (interesting, given that probably every Australian over the age of 15 has a Telstra story and they are not all positive!). He also sees blogs as allowing Telstra to put a different face to its message.

‘If you want to hear from the rank and file of the company, to try and put a face to the people that make this big company work and get their perspective and the challenges they face and what turns them on, here’s an opportunity to get it directly from the horse’s mouth.’

I took some time out to check out the blogs at Now We Are Talking. I had honestly expected them to be rather bland. They aren’t, and I’m impressed. I’m especially impressed because employees are writing about potentially contentious issues and there are comments on the blogs from the general public (I am so not a conspiracy theorist that I do believe they are from the general public!).  

The article also quotes Aussie Microsoft blogger, Frank Arrigo, author of the excellent Frankarr blog. On the subject of risk, which is invariably given prominence in the occasional Australian media story about corporate blogging, Frank observes succinctly: 

“There is always a risk, but it’s no different to me being at the pub and bitching about my job and there is a journo next to me,’ he says.

And with eminent good sense, it seems to me, Frank goes on to say that if he doesn’t want to see something appear on the front page of one of the national dailies, he doesn’t blog it.

(Note that the link above to the story in The Australian is a weblink but not a permalink and regrettably there is no link available for the Sydney Morning Herald piece.)

Australian Corporate Blogging Takes Uncertain Steps

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 03/2/06

No doubt I wasn’t the only Australian blogger to hope that the ‘To Blog or Not to Blog’ segment on the Nine Network’s Business Sunday TV program, February 26, would have something worthwhile to show and say about the state of the Australian business blogosphere. Nothing too profound, mind you. Screened at the decidedly non-peak hour of 8.30am every Sunday in the ratings period, the program is not usually very mentally taxing. In the event, it was quite interesting for me, although I can’t help wondering what corporate executives would have made of it, in terms of the usefulness and desirability of their companies establishing a blog.

There is a link here to the transcript of the program. That is regrettably not a blog permalink, so it will presumably only stay on the web for a limited time. A handy resource for anyone reading the transcript is the post with links to the sites of the people interviewed: this was put up by one of the main interviewees, dedicated Microsoft Aussie Blogger Frank Arrigo, and is a blog permalink.

As the transcript shows, Frank and others, including Trevor Cook, had some very useful comments to make. But what I found a real downer was that the last two people interviewed, before a final comment from Frank, were Australian lawyers from global partnerships, emphasizing the downside risks of corporate blogging and explaining why their firms weren’t blogging. No serious discussion of risk management, just a ‘flick to the too-hard basket’ approach.

Knowing from experience how what is actually said in interviews from such programs can become scarcely recognizable when the program is aired, it may well be that the lawyers – both very knowledgeable in the IT space – actually contributed a more nuanced commentary. Snip! Sorry (not really) about that!

Actually, the final comment from Frank was pretty neat, pointing out that corporates actually can’t afford not to be in the blogging space. But my own feeling is that half-awake corporate execs chomping on their breakfast toast at 8.55am or so would have been inclined to be more influenced by the do-nothing-new, cautious words we heard from the attorneys.

Of course, one Sunday morning television program cannot tell the whole story. I’m tremendously keen for business blogging to kick off in Australia and I’m optimistic about that happening soon. I’ve been encouraged in this by indications such as the invitations I have to present at various events this month and next and then later in the year.

It’s quite possible however that not a lot has changed since Trevor Cook’s excellent State of Australian Blogging  post five months ago:

Overall, blogging in Australia lags behind the US and probably behind some Asian and European countries. Why? One reason is that we usually do. Australia’s population is made up of a few thousand people who have a genuine global view and who are very much at the cutting edge but the bulk of the population are followers of international trends (we’ll try something when it becomes the rage overseas).

Trevor concluded that post with an expression of optimism about how things would be this year. So I find it sobering that a conference on blogs, wikis and rss, at which both Trevor and I are scheduled to speak, has now been re-timetabled from the end of this month to a date six months hence.

Are we there yet? I don’t think so.

Indonesia Business Blog

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 01/28/06

For anyone interested in business possibilities in Indonesia, or perhaps in the international adventures of US corporations they may have business with or shares in, business journalist Yosef Ardi’s Indonesia Today blog is required reading.

His January 18 post US business heavyweights are in town, the long wish list, in which he provides an imagined text for what the visiting US corporations really want and are really concerned about, is an elegant and witty piece of economic and political commentary.

According to the bio on his site, Ardi spent a year in 2004-2005 as a visiting scholar at the UC School of Journalism, Berkeley CA.

He also has a blog in the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, Articles in Bisnis Indonesia, Bisnis Indonesia being the economic newspaper published in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Ardi was managing editor.

Shock Predictions of Blogs’ Cost to American Business

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 11/2/05

Would you believe that in 2005, employees reading blogs will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs unrelated to their work, on their bosses’ time? No? Well, what about 2.3 million work years (calculated on the basis of a typical nearly 40-hour work week)?

These startling figures are in the October 24 AdAge story What Blogs Cost American Business (free subscription required to read the story).

Sprinkled through the story there are clues that the stated figures need to be taken with a grain of salt. For example, half way through, well after the shock of the headline, and under the sub-head ‘Wasted time’, we get "Hard and detailed data on blogging time is limited, so Ad Age’s analysis is a best-guess extrapolation …" Oh, really? Does that mean what it sounds like, i.e. "we have a fair idea but we can’t really prove it"?

And "strong evidence" of "workday blogging" (posting? reading?) is based on figures for spikes in business hours traffic for Blogads and Feedburner traffic. So what would “weak evidence� look like? What the taxi drivers are saying?

Yet whatever the weaknesses in the argument or the caveats on the statistics cited, business blog consultants surely need to recognize that business owners who are employers may be encouraged by articles like this (there will no doubt be more) to be super cautious about getting aboard the blogging train. They might wonder, for example, whether by being enthusiastic about blogging, CEOs were in effect encouraging their staff to spend a lot of time on activity which did not evidently contribute to productivity.

There are some significant human resources management issues here for businesses which make a commitment to blogging and even for businesses with the “not interested� sign out – for one thing, their staff may be very interested and some will be reading blogs and some of those will also be blogging, if not now, real soon.

Having a code of conduct on blogging could help.

Recently, to assist a client of mine, I did some research online to find such a code of conduct, a clear, unequivocal set of rules or principles which business owners could apply to cover blogging at work and in relation to work. I found a lot of opinion and a few attempts at a code, but not a clear-cut set of principles that business owners generally could be expected to adopt. And let’s face it, there’s probably a generational issue lying in wait here, except maybe for companies with CEOs under 35.

I was intrigued by one particular comment in the article, an observation attributed to Jonathan Gibs, senior research manager at Nielsen/NetRatings, that at-work blog time is "probably" done in addition to regular surfing. In other words, the people who have been doing non work-related internet browsing are now also blogging or reading non work-related blogs at work. If true, that would mean that more of the "boss’s time" is being wasted by the same people already doing unproductive internet surfing, rather than their simply substituting blogging and reading blogs for more traditional internet surfing. What does that say about, for example, marketing to readers of blogs?

Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs Awards 2005

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on on 08/28/05

Deutsche Welle International is running its BOBS (Best Of the Blogs) 2005 Awards, commencing September 1. This is the second year running and the winners from last year are listed here.

The site says there are thirteen categories, although it looks to me more like five categories, one of which has nine language sub-categories. Categories are: Best weblog, Best multimedia weblog, Best podcasting site, Special award from Reporters without Borders, Best journalistic site in one of the following languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.

Interesting that there is no category for business blogs, let alone corporate, small business etc sub-categories. Can we take from that omission that this very well established European media company does not see business blogging as having a sufficiently distinctive place yet? The jury composition looks strongly weighted to a journalist’s view of the blogosphere and is interestingly international. And there appears to be only one non-media sponsor, a hotel, in among the Sponsors and Media Partners.

One reason I’m very interested in this is that I’ve been communicating with some other Australian bloggers about the idea of a business blogging conference in our part of the world. I guess we all see the blogosphere, as we do the world generally, from our own vantage points, but the BOBS categories suggest to me that the idea of business blogging as a significant sector of the blogosphere, with its own characteristics and issues, might not not have achieved a high level of recognition outside the USA.




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