Blogging Makes You Smarter

As I’ve been talking with companies about why they should be blogging (demonstrate expertise, SEO, project management, knowledge management) one reason struck me the other day as probably THE best reason to blog:

Blogging Makes You Smarter

It will make you, your employees and your entire organization smarter.

If you think about the creative process, we go through 4 steps:
Generating, Conceptualizing, Optimizing and Implementing.

The funny thing about these is that nobody is good at all 4. We are usually really good at one, okay to pretty good at one or two and usually suck at need to improve on at least one. That doesn’t mean that we can’t do all 4 well, it just means that we are naturally better at some than others.

Generating is the stage where we come up with the initial idea. These are your “idea guys.” These people never have shortages of ideas and some of them are actually good. Most of your marketers live here.

Conceptualizing is where we create the “big picture,” the “30,00 foot view.” Its usually here that we fight over the right analogy. We take the idea and start to shape it.

Optimizing is where we start to pull in our facts. This is the “practical application” phase. This is where your accountants and engineers live. You can’t have enough facts and data for these guys. This is where planning starts.

Implementation is where the rubber meets the road. Enough talk, lets go out and do it. This is your sales department (hopefully). Now that we have the idea, what it looks like and the details to implement it, it’s time to see if it flies.

Writing takes all 4 of these phases and no one is really good at all of them. I love phase 1, I could live in a think tank brain storming all day. I also enjoy phase 2, creating the possibilities of how an idea would work. I suck at need work on phase 3 (although I am constantly getting better), I make it a point to surround myself with these types of people. I’m even good at phase 4, I enjoy executing on ideas that I’m really excited about (assuming that they survived phase 3).

When you write (write well at least) you have to go through all 4 of these phases. When you blog you have the additional challenges of doing all of this and keeping your idea short and concise (and hopefully understandable). To be a blogger you have to do this consistently.

As you and your organization learn new topics, blog about them, share them and collaborate on these ideas, you collectively become smarter. Your team will be able to recall and apply the ideas better because they have internalized them, processed them and applied them in writing.

I know for me that even if no one was reading this blog, I would continue to do this because of the personal benefits I see, and I bet most bloggers would agree.  If you look at the great leaders and innovators they all did this in the form of a personal journal or letter writing.  Blogging is just the 21st century version of that.

Additional Resources on Creativity and Learning in the workplace:
Min Basadur has a more thorough explanation of the creative process.
Dan Bobinski has a blog dedicated to learning and training in the workplace.

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Web 2.0 and New Media Definitions

There is a lot of confusion around the definitions of Web 2.0 vs New Media. You will hear a lot of people use them interchangeably. Even the above linked to Wikipedia definitions don’t offer much differentiation. So while theses may not be definitive this is the difference as I see them.

Web 2.0 is the technology.

This includes things like: AJAX, Blogs, Wiki’s, podcasts, RSS, widgets and tagging.

New Media is the philosophy.

This is the new approach to how we communicate with each other. This is what makes things like social communities so powerful.

It’s the combination of these two factors at the same time that have created the change that we are experiencing. One without the other is not as powerful.

Web 2.0 is cool, I like the technology but without the philosophy it’s just a cooler way to experience the web.

New Media is great, the approach of many to many and knowledge sharing across multiple groups is extremely powerful but without the technology you are limited to off line geographically limited groups.

Combine the two you you achieve exponential results.

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Saying the Right Thing

I was in class most of last week (which is why I was short on posts). As part of my EMBA program we had a New Venture Panel with 4 people who deal with new ventures almost daily. The feedback from my fellow class mates seems unanimous that this was the best panel we’ve had so far (and we’ve had some really good panels).

John Glerum, the director of the TECenter was our first speaker and he had a very thought provoking quote:

Every time you talk about your business you are either increasing the perception of the value of your company or you are decreasing the perception of the value of your company.

I would like to extend that further and propose that every time your customers or employees (or anyone) talk about your company, the perception of value is either increasing or decreasing.  This stressed to me two things:

  • Have a clear message of your company
  • Be real

This is not meant to advocate strict message control policies. If anything it is meant to advocate the opposite. Have a clear message but be honest.

People trust Honest and Real more than they trust Slick and Polished.

We relate to real people inside companies who make mistakes. We do not forgive hypocritical corporations with their talking heads.

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Does Democracy Need Journalism Anymore?

At a recent CCC event (more here, here and here) Bill Manny from the Idaho Statesman made a pretty bold statement. (Paraphrasing):

The First amendment defends journalism because Democracy needs journalism to survive.

Bill is obviously an incredibly intelligent guy and is an excellent reporter (and mountain climber from what I hear) but he will even admit that he doesn’t understand the change that new media is having on his industry.

If I could be so bold I would like to pose a question that continue Bill’s rationale:

If journalism itself has been democratized through new media, does Democracy need journalism anymore?

I honestly don’t have an opinion either way yet. I’m kind of thinking out loud. Thoughts?

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Forums: The Platypus of New Media?

Forums, Message Boards, Bulletin Boards, I’ve heard them called a lot of things over the years. Unlike its cousin, the chat room, forums survived the dot bomb explosion virtually unscathed. (Although I hear chat rooms may be making a comeback.)

We see them used a lot these days on social community, Web 2.0 and new media sites, but are they new media?

Forums are a staple for user groups and tech community sites. They can posses a wealth of useful information and a well managed one is worth its weight in gold. Of course an un-managed one can be the bane of ones existence.

the problem with forums, currently, is that for the non techie or those unaccustomed to using forums, they can seem daunting. There are un written rules, social norms, and often overlapping topics making it difficult to figure out where to post.

While forums might not be *new*, I would put them in the Web 2.0 line up. Especially ones that integrate RSS. Now as soon as they all wake up and add tagging that will make navigating these sites much simpler. There are a new breed of forums popping up that are incorporating more Web 2.0 capabilities, like Vanilla and BBPress. I think we are just starting to see what will be a major trend in revamped forums platforms.

Most of the forums I use are built around small private groups but I like the Diigo Collaboration forum, because it ties in with my Diigo bookmarks. Do you have a favorite forum?

*I have closed comments on this post due to excessive spamming.

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Capital City Commuicators Go Up In Flames

Greg Stielstra and his book, PyroMarketing were an early influence on me in my new media development. The book is amazing and if there is ever a guy who GETS the philosophy of web2.0 it is Greg, you can actually download the audio of his book for free.

Tonight the IBR will be hosting a book with Greg in preparation for the CCC Spring Seminar, here’s the details:

Come to Book-Signing/Reception for Greg Stielstra - Monday, May 14

You’re invited to attend a book-signing/reception for Greg Stielstra at
6 p.m. on Monday, May 14, at the 8th Street Wine Bar in BoDo. This is a
pre-event for the Capital City Communicators Spring Seminar - Using New
Media to Engage Your Customers.

Stielstra is the author of “PyroMarketing: The Four Step Strategy to
Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them for Life.” “BusinessWeek”
hails Stielstra’s book as “a marketing miracle.” “The Economist” says,
“PyroMarketing…can apply to a huge range of businesses.”

The reception is a great opportunity to mingle with your peers, enjoy
fine wines and appetizers, and meet the man who created the
PyroMarketing phenomenon.

And don’t forget, Greg will be the luncheon keynote speaker at the
seminar on Tuesday, May 15 at the Doubletree Hotel Boise - Riverside.
The seminar starts at 9 a.m.

Find a way to get there tonight, you won’t be sorry. “Spread the Fire!”

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Top 5 Web 2.0 Collaboration Tools

#1 Blogs

This one was a no brainer really. Blogs have changed the way we communicate and share information. While blogs are more like someone giving a presentation, they at least provide a great opportunity for Q&A. It amazes me how such a light weight CMS has such a huge impact on our lives.

#2 Forums

Forums are one of the few remnants left over from the dot bomb. Much like tortoises escaping dino extinction, forums are a still a great medium for collaborating especially when you consider the potential for time shifted collaboration. A must have for a true collaborative forum is RSS

#3 Wikis

Wiki’s have a lot of interest from the enterprise, but many people aren’t sure how to use them. They can be intimidating for the non techies. Wiki’s are a lot like blogs in their versatility. I’ve even seen people use wiki’s as their personal website. I think the full power of the wiki is still yet to be seen. The must have for wiki adoption in your company is a good WYSIWYG editor (RSS doesn’t hurt either).


Have you ever sent an IM or SMS to someone who was sitting right next to you because it was easier than taking off your headphones? If you have, then I don’t have to tell you anymore. If you haven’t then there is only way to convince you: skype me. It is so much faster than sending an email or picking up the phone.

#5 Shared Bookmarking

This is quietly becoming a major new media trend. A company that institutes enterprise level bookmarking will never go without it again. If you want to get a taste for what it’s like, get your team to sign up for Create a unique tag; for my company, we’d use menloprk because there is a very low chance someone would use that tag outside of our company. Now have your team subscribe the RSS feed for that unique tag. I promise it will change the way you share interesting articles.

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TechBoise has Arrived

Okay, for a lot of you this is probably old news. But since everyone else was making the announcement I figured that I’d better say something on my site.

TechBoise is a community driven site for the Boise tech scene.

Around the first of the year I had this crazy idea that Boise needed a site that brought together all of the various tech activity in the valley. While pitching my idea to a small group of new media types Sarah volunteered to help build the site using WordPress. So I went to Yahoo! and bought the domain for $1.99 (if you’ve never used Yahoo! before they discount your first purchase) and we’ve been working out the details ever since.

People keep asking me why I’m doing this. I am passionate about tech, small business start ups and Boise. And since I am a tech start up in Boise it seemed like a good fit. That and I didn’t have enough to do.

I believe that Boise has a two year window of opportunity to build a thriving tech community here or not only will we loose out to other city’s but we’ll loose the tech companies we do have. So while BVEP does their thing and the local government does nothing, I figured for $1.99 and some time and effort I could see what I could do to make a difference.

The other question people ask me is how am I measuring success. That ones easier to answer: If we have a thriving tech community here in two years, then I’ve done my part. For me that is the only measure of success.

So head over to the site, check it out, leave a comment or submit a letter.

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What is New Media’s Potential?

“Eventually I realized that the world is getting more complex at an ever more rapid rate, that complex problems have to be dealt with colllectively and that our collective ability for dealing with them is not improving nearly as fast as the complexity is increasing. The best thing I could think of doing was to help boost mankind’s capability for dealing with complex problems.”

This is a quote from Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse. I pulled this quote from the book Designing Interactions, by Bill Moggridge. This is a must read for anyone working in high tech.

Bill Moggridge is the founder of IDEO. This is the place that any crazy ‘idea guy’ like myself dreams of working at.

I loved this quote. To me it summed up why I love new media and what I see as the potential for new media in our lives.

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How does Journalism Stay Relevant?

From Eddie at the IBR:

“A few weeks ago, Tac Anderson posed this question for us on his blog:

My question for the Idaho Business Review is “what’s next�?? John Foster has made some great changes in the right direction, but I think that they need to strike while the iron’s hot. One blog is a great *start* but is not even the tip of the iceburg (sic).

I’ve struggled with this for a few weeks, but I’ve been unable to come up with a concise, thoughtful solution. Instead, in the spirit of Web 2.0, I’d like to turn the question over to our readers. How do you use the Web site? What features would you like to see us add? How should we keep the conversation going?”

My response in the comments:

“There’s a lot of buzz in journalism right now about how does the industry stay relevant. I think an industry wide shift needs to happen and reporters need to stop worrying about ‘reporting’ and be more concerned with ‘aggregating’ and delivering stories.

The key is personalization. You nor anyone at the IBR has any idea what I (or anyone) will be interested in as a reader. Provide relevant content (no matter what the source)and provide a way for me to select what news I want aggregated to me and how I would like it delivered.”

Garry Goldhammer had this to say on the Social Media Today blog:

“You don’t work for a newspaper; you work in the news business, using any tools at your disposal necessary to do your job. A print reporter may shoot video if that helps tell the story. A TV journalist can write a blog or a radio journalist can post photos to illustrate a story on his podcast.

I witnessed this struggle first hand during a recent “new media�? workshop for travel writers. These were print people worried about what cameras to buy, how long a podcast should be and whether they could manage this new approach to storytelling. All they knew for sure was there was no choice but to learn and evolve.

This is not threatening but rather freeing – without conventional constraints, reporters can be more engaging and thorough. It also secures a place for print as a needed piece of the multimedia pie, instead of becoming a faded, stubborn relic screaming for dominance in a media world gone forever flat.”

So what do they do?  There is no *right* answer.  I think the answer lies in my last post.

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