Suw nails it. Blogs are about giving voice to the people; from the person on the ground to the CEO and everybody in between. The technology sucks but it is good enough to start being used by all. Getting caught up in the tech for tech’s sake (which is a mistake that a lot of techs make) and not as means to an end (i.e. enabling more people to express their voice) is a waste of time.
I’m going to posit the existence of five overarching types of business blog before I start considering them in more depth in future posts: 1. Marketing blogs - external, B2C blog, used to promote either the company or a product/service. 2. External blogs - used to communicate with the public, but not for sales purposes, for instance, in a consultation process. 3. Insider blogs - employee blogs, sanctioned but not controlled by the company they work for. (Sometimes disclaimed by the company they work for.) 4. Internal blogs - blogs used within a company to share knowledge, build communities, disseminate news. 5. Content blogs - public-facing blogs reliant on content to bring in either subscription or, more likely, advertising revenue. Lumpers would probably look at the above list and label them all ‘enterprise blogs’ or somesuch. Splitters will say ‘Yes, but that doesn’t cover everything - what about…?’, or will argue that some blog types listed aren’t business blogs at all, but personal blogs. There are benefits and problems to both the Lumping and the Splitting points of view. Lumpers have a tendency to miss the fine detail, which can lead to the erroneous assumption that all blogs are like their blogs, but they are good at looking at the wider implications of blogging. Splitters tend to get too caught up in the details of how and why blogs are different, so they miss out on the bigger picture. But of course, categorising blogs is not always helpful: it detracts from the most important part of blogging - the people. The risk is that instead of understanding the people who write and read blogs, how they use blogs and what they gain from the experience, we will end up talking about semantics and software instead (cf. the LiveJournal vs., well, every other blogging tool debate). This is what happened to Knowledge Management - it stopped being about the people and the knowledge and became a big discussion about software and IT. On the other hand, classification is important for the efficient discussion and study of blogs. If I say ‘Marketing Blog’, I need to know that you understand what I mean, without having to pause and explain it every time. A common vocabulary is essential to meaningful conversation. I don’t expect to have nailed in one shot the different sorts of business blog, but the comments are open. Let me know what you think.