I am reading a book entitled ‘Blog‘ by Hugh Hewitt. It’s a good book, primarily focused on blogging from a political standpoint and how it’s affecting mainstream media. One of the ironies is that Hugh’s own website, although it is organized like a blog, appears to be hand-edited HTML. Blogging software includes important features now such as permanent links, comments, XML feeds, and archiving. Whenever I visit a blog website, I am always curious to see what tool is being used, such as Blogger, Movable Type, WordPress, MyST, etc., but when I looked at Hugh’s source, there didn’t appear to be any of that. I supposed he might just send the text to some smart webmaster who figures out how to add the links and insert it into the mix. I use FrontPage to edit my main web pages, but that would be very tedious for maintaining a blog, especially if I tried to do the archiving, XML feed, comment fields, and permanent linking manually.
I find personal blogs can be somewhat like the Christmas letters I get each year. I really like reading those letters, even though they are not personalized, because they help me to keep abreast of what’s happening in someone else’s life. Usually, they mention the places they’ve traveled, events they attended, job changes, accomplishments, graduations, and other personal topics. Phil Greenspun sent out a few Christmas letters that were very funny in 1990 and 1991, but apparently gave up the practice. His letters were a sort of self-deprecating satire on the narcissism involved of sending those letters. I guess there is something narcissistic about sending out letters that read almost like press releases, but I still like getting them. At least with blogs, people can always ‘opt out’ if you’re boring or annoying them ;-). I noticed that Phil maintains a blog now, so perhaps there’s not as much need to keep people apprised of his exploits with a yearly letter.
Another reason to maintain a blog is to beome a ‘thought leader’ on a topic. My friend Jack Krupansky is a thought leader on the topic of software agents, and recently started 5 blogs on various topics. I suppose if you have a company, or are establishing yourself as an authority, a blog dedicated to a particular subject matter is a good way to keep people coming back to you for your advice. Uncensored blogging strikes fear into the hearts of PR departments which like to scrub everything before it gets released to the public, but it’s hard to sound genuine in those types of postings. It comes across sounding much more like a press release than what the person really thinks. GM is starting to blog (and podcast too!), and if they can do it, how much longer will it be before the rest of the Fortune 500 follow suit? Warren Buffet doesn’t blog, per se, but his annual letters to shareholders have the same ‘flavor’ of a blog entry, full of humor, good information, and no pesky PR department’s censoring imprint on them. I guess when you’re one of the richest men in the world and have held your current position for 40 years, you don’t have to ask permission from others about what information you can share.