Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Are blogs difficult to understand?

Are blogs difficult to understand?

I've seen so much confusion as to what a blog is, how it works, and what it can do for individuals or organizations. MSM journalists get it totally wrong or only partially correct, and often proclaim wildly distorted views about blogs and bloggers.

I've read material about blogs, written by computer and internet professionals, that was completely idiotic. Things like: "blogs are still mostly just teenagers journaling their emotional ups and downs or political fanatics spouting crazy ideas". I read a remark like this, which is a fairly exact paraphrase, in a comment on a respected business blog. And the ridiculous remark was not attacked or corrected.

Perhaps that's the problem. We hardcore bloggers are not aggressive enough in setting the record straight. We allow stupid comments and unbalanced news articles to sit there unchallenged.

I don't recall people acting so bewildered about chat rooms, email, web sites, online forums, discussion lists, online shopping, file sharing, CD burning, instant messaging, text messaging, or even podcasts.

Someone please help me understand why so many people, even experienced web users, act so clueless, so hopelessly confused, when it comes to blogs. Blogs are not rocket science, so what is the barrier to learning here?

Even if you patiently and fully explain blogs, even if you show a blog to somebody, a print out or a live blog on a computer screen, many people act like their brains were compromised and deleted by a mental virus.

The only solution I know of for this ignorance is to get the person to actually start a blog of their own.

Have you encountered this total lack of comprehension regarding blogs?

What do you think is causing this mental blankness?

Are you doing anything about it? On your blog?

Can you add sidebar features or blog posts that help remedy this situation?

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Hans said...

Its just a developement. 3-4 years ago I was trying to explain my closest friends (artists and photographers)that they would immediatly need their own website. But they asked me why ? They didnt see the value in it. For me, as blown outside the center of attention (blown out of Berlin, Germany to Rustavi, Georgia)the web was the only way to keep connected, to show, what I was doing and so on. I had no Gallery, no Gallerist, no public, no exchange, no input. Over the years I changed everything. I have thousands of visitors on Blogs and other websites, I exchange ideas, I get inspiration, I am able to discuss, I am able to sell, all this gives me some extra clicks on Adsense too, and all this from the remotest Caucasus Mountain...
But it took me 2 years to understand the extravalue and extrafun of having a Blog. Most people didnt realize yet (especially in Germany)how powerfull a Blog can become. In Germany we say: "Die Letzten werden die Ersten sein." "The latter will be first..."
But still today, those my close friends don't have their websites, but know how to use Ebay or an Ipod...

Anonymous said...

You have hit on a serious problem. I try to pitch an enterprise blogging tool - Ideascape - to businesses, but most managers are clueless about social software, web 2.0 etc. They seem to be stuck in all the previous hype of web 1.0 and that having a basic static site (not updated in years)is good enough.

My conversations get more interesting on the subject of internal blogging. The bottom line imho is that managers do not want to hear what employees have to say.

The clients we have are gaining valuable insights, having fun, and improving productivity.

jim wilde

steven edward streight said...

I am indeed humbled and deeply appreciative of such detailed comments on my little rant of a post.

Grijsz: I'm always excited to read any reaction from you. I am so honored that you speak from the Caucasus mountains, what an exotic perspective.

You are a successful art blogger, photo blogger, and tour guide. What an amazing combination. Too cool.

Thanks for your insight. I forgot how blogs, being interactive, are a way to connect with people *when you are physically remote or isolated* as I also am.

I'm "blown outside" the center of attention: I used to be an advertising writer in New York City, and played electronics in a band.

Now I'm in Peoria, Illinois, with little contact with any friends, not many visitors, a bit lonely and bored.

Jim Wilde: thank you sir for your insights. You make excellant points and you have enriched my understanding. I was not in the loop during the early days of the web, I was still focused on word processing, writing ads and corporate material, not into the internet itself.

I will check out your site, and possibly blog about it.

Way to go, guys. You made my day.


Hans said...

Hey, Jim, great ideas you are developing, thats exactly the ressources a lot of companies not using yet. One thing is usability maybe of your own website, especially this site:
here a shorter link:

I think its a bit too confusing for your potential customers to get the point on that page. There are plenty of examples in the web, how to make a successful site, eg make a sell.

I site I like, (and they have very useful newsletters) is this one:

Hans said...

Steven, why is no Adsense here ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Grijsz,

Thnaks for the feedback.

There are always things we can do to make the site better. The biggest problem we struggle with is how much information to display, which leads to how people want to navigate - tags or menus. We practice what we preach, so we try to show how to navigate with tags. For example, at the end of every post, there are multiple tags that the user can click on to find additional information. What's more, if you look on the right hand column of, there are related links that the user can use to navigate. In other words, the related tags serve as a recommendation engine. Ideascape goes much deeper than any tool on the market, hence the name - Ideascape. Somethings we do not show are the ways to Ideascape the third party services such as technorait, pubsub, flickr, et al.

To appreciate Ideascape, think of 100' or 1000's of users on one system that can snatch converations from their internal environment and the external blogosphere with one or two clicks. We shoe this ability with delicious.

The sad thing is that people want to compare it to what they are familiar with: MT, typepad, WP, Blogger, etc. What is so surprising is that a couple of the so-called A-list bloggers (Rubel, Jarvis) are just starting to use tags. But they way they are using them as categories is amusing.

Anyway, this is getting too long. You can find more info on my site.

Jim Wilde

steven edward streight said...

Interesting discussion.

Grijsz: why no Adsense on my blogs? Because I want users to know that my blogs are Unpaid Opinion Zones.

Plus the fact that my truth-telling, hard-hitting, radical controversy blogs are not high traffic, thus not much money could be generated.

But the main reason is purity of communication, not obliged to anyone. The only disclaimer I make is that I do like Google for giving me free Blogger blogs, free Hello/Picasa image uploading, and free Gmail account. And I like Firefox so much that I voluntarily display their link button on my sites.

Yet I am not paid by anyone for any volunteer promotion I might do. If I say I like something, you can trust that I actually use it and am satisfied. And if I attack something, you can trust that I am not being paid by a company to attack one of its competitors.

This is crucial positioning for web credibility, a field I have studied and defend along with the top experts in web usability and online credibility, such as Jakob Nielsen, Professsor B.J. Fogg of Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, University of California Berkeley, MIT, John Hopkins University, and others.

Hans said...

Hi Jim,

thank you for your comment. I will look more close into ideascape. I just wanted to say, that an information overdose sometimes needs to be channelled. Will follow the next changes on your project.

Yes, Steven, of course its much better to stay as much independent as possible. You named it right, credibility.
But I was fascinated and am still of Googles Concepts, as there are also Adwords and Adsense. Picasa could be improved, for example with a better usability.