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Confessions of a blogging virgin

If this is replacing traditional media, why does it already have its own traditions?

I never should have said “never.” My role as a blogger was almost inevitable.

Regular readers may remember a time when, as editor of ITBusiness.ca, I launched IT Business Blogs, which at the time was an invitation to those in the industry to offer their thoughts on our site and in our daily newsletter for a two-week period. At the time, I took great pains to contrast what bloggers do in a blog and what I believed I was doing in this editorial, and why it probably wouldn’t suit me. A few years and a proliferation of technology-related blogs later, I find myself contributing to the exact same kind of medium for which I said I was unqualified.

We launched a series of group blogs at our sister site ITWorldCanada.com last week, and so far I’ve been posting to about four or five of them. These include Enterprise Insights, Candid CIO, Career Corner and Security Insider. We opted for group blogs rather than personality-driven blogs. No, not because our editors have no discernable personality. It’s more a question of workload, and whether a single individual who is already responsible for managing a print publication, a newsletter and a small staff is capable of updating their own blog on a regular basis. I was happy enough with this decision, because it leaves me free to continue writing in greater depth on ITBusiness.ca while continuing to give the blogosphere my two cents’ worth.

All this comes as Andrew Keen publishes The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy. In an argument that already sounds shopworn, Keen reportedly suggests that home-made content such as blogs is not only killing off traditional media, it’s replacing it with second-rate amateurs who don’t offer quality information. I say “reportedly” because I haven’t read the book, and don’t plan to since I have so many newspapers and magazines waiting for me at home. As a novice blogger, I can already report that it would be nearly impossible to blog without reacting to the content produced by traditional media, and that some of us do come with a background that gives us the ability to say something meaningful.

What’s interesting about this experiment so far (and I’ve only been blogging for a week, so it still feels like one) is that it’s a medium that already feels somewhat bound by its own restrictive traditions. When we launched, those of us blogging were told we should probably keep it short; that punchy was better than staid and that adding graphics really helped draw an audience. This is, in essence, the same thinking behind the production of traditional media, but plenty of other so-called blogging experts are reminding people to keep it round as they reinvent the wheel.

In most of the features we’ve done so far on corporate blogging, IT departments have rarely been involved. The technology is either free or easy enough to use that line of business people can set it up on their own. And yet it would be interesting, in many companies, to have an IT blog alongside that of the CEO or marketing manager to talk about how their employer is working to connect more directly to customers and partners. That’s why, before long, we’ll be opening up our own personal blogosphere to the wider IT community. Blogging has already been around long enough that some people will tell you that blogging as a group will never work. But just remember what I said about “never.”