About blogs and business

I find myself thinking more often these days about what blogs should be, even as I spend less time thinking about what I actually blog. Not necessarily a good combination. But I sometimes think that the relative effortlessness with which really practiced bloggers post is less a factor of short attention spans or carelessness (though there are plenty, myself included, who are guilty of both) and more a factor of practice. And, over time, of self-knowledge.

Someone asked me what blogging was the other day. My reply: “It’s an individual’s perspective on life, usually but not necessarily of the online variety.” After taking that thought away, I’m not sure I’m satisfied with it. After all, Real Live Preacher doesn’t blog about online life; neither does Julie Powell; neither (usually) does Tony Pierce. And neither, really, does Dave Winer, not anymore. So that leaves us with “an individual’s perspective on life.” Hmm. Not satisfactory, but let’s start with that.

What does that individual perspective mean? Well, for one thing, it’s personal. Regardless of whether you’re compiling lists of links or writing essays, the blog reflects your perspective. The better blogs are more personal, not less; they put that personality out there and reveal all the subjectivity up front.

So what does this have to do with business? Maybe nothing. But even at large companies like Microsoft, we need to connect to our customers and understand them—and, sometimes harder, have them understand us. Maybe blogging is a way to do that that transcends being there in newsgroups or posting anonymous advice to the corporate website.