2/09/2006

Robert Scoble Blog How To

Naked Conversations: The Book
What is a blog? What do they do? Who has one and how do they use it? Why do they matter? How will they change the world? Business? America? Europe? Asia? Africa? Latin America? Should you have a blog

Find the answers to these and other questions in naked conversations: how blogs are changing he way businesses talk with customers...and everyone else for that matter.

Robert Scoble (left) and Shel Israel (right) [photo courtesy of D. Sifrey] have given us a gift: naked conversations: how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers. Kudos to both for trying to describe, analyze, and provide a handbook about blogs and the blogosphere.


For small business blogs, see pajama marketing.



The Blogs
For a list of the blogs noted in naked conversations, see: NC blogs, which is the blog where they wrote the book before they wrote the book. The collective wisdom of the blogosphere made this a much better book...which illustrates a central tenet of their book. And the circle...

Techcrunch Tracking Web 2.0 by Michael Arrington gave a naked conversations (NC) book-signing party for 400 on February 17, 2006. Here are some blogs that discuss the event:
Robert Scoble
, Dave Winer, Scott Beale, Dave McClure, Tracy Sheridan, Alex Moskalyuk, Robert Anderson, Dan Farber Pictures, Nik Cubrilovic, Jeremiah Owyang, Mark Jen, Rafe Needleman, Renee Blodgett, Chris Mullins, Mike Davidson, Brian Oberkirch, Joseph A. di Paolantonio, Jeff Clavier #2, James Gross, Alexander Muse, Oliver Starr, Rick Segal, Podtech, Max Kiesler, Dion Hinchcliffe, Narendra Rocherolle, George Nimeh, Om Malik, Dan Farber , Susan Mernit, The Conversation, nissan,

The Post Money Value, Like it Matters, Jeff Clavier's Software Only, tech crunch, gapingvoid, ZDnet, pod-serve, nik, TechCrunch5, Crunchnotes, Diva Marketing Blog, weblogs work, stoweboyd, down the avenue, TwistImage, James (Australia), No Soap, Radio!, Monkey Notions, Conscious Connections, Werblog, Digestivo Cultural (Brazil), ValleyWag - (very funny photo captions), Rocketboom (the show), Rocketboom (TechCrunch5 NC party video), Grigo's Blog (China), Teachers Lounge, Church of the Customer, Bernd, Hebig, Shel, and on and on and....More blogs about naked conversations.

Washington Post NC Book Blog Interview 2/24/2006

Fortune 500 Business Blogs
For the mother of all business blog lists, see the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki site.
More blogs about naked conversations. Information Week

European Business Blogs
CorporateBlogging.Info posts a good list of blogs from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Itlay , Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Also, Loiclemeur, softechvc, frosta, selbr, clarin,

And the circle...it goes round and round...PaulColligan's Podcasts, Rickmann Design, Tech Scene (Toronto), BlogTO, Perceptric Forum, The Messaging Times (Ireland), one degree, monkeynotions (iPodcast of the party), MonkeyNotion (party podcast), Gone to Kansas City,

Robert Scoble's list of blogs to visit each day includes: engadet, scripting, blogs.msdn, misbehaving, gapingvoid, talkingpointsmemo, instapundit, weblogs, buzzmachine, and daringfireball

Shel Israel's list of blogs to visit each day includes: whatsnextblog, blakeross, ernietheattorney, loiclemeur, mcgeesmusings, sethgodin.typepad, newmediamusings, hyperorg, blogs.msdn, and englishcut

Successful Blog Traits...Scobele and Israel give five tips for blogs that succeed:

  • Talk...don't sell
  • Post often...and be interesting
  • Write about issues you know...and care about
  • Blogging saves money...but costs time
  • You get smarter by listening to what people tell you
That the book received the imprimatur of John Wiley & Sons, the working technical writer's continual education graduate school, makes it credible for me. Blogging has certainly come a long way from the early years. With over 27 million out there, here are the New York Magazine blessed top 50. Although you may not go from blogs to riches, Scoble and Israel give you a strategy for how to create a blog that may not make the top 50, but will have value for you, your business, and others...nonetheless.

Chock-Full-A-Blogs
Naked Conversations is chock-full-a-blog links you can use. Such blog address are conveniently found as footers at the bottom of many pages. You might want to read the book seated at your computer so you can check out the myriad of blogs they thought good enough to include from the millions that are now out there. Here are a few they mention by chapter:

In Chapter 4: Direct Access:
fastlane.gmblogs.com, blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan, archive.scripting.com, http://www.corporateblogging.info/, www.whatsnextblog.com

In Chapter 5: Little Companies, Long Reach: http://www.gapingvoid.com/, http://www.englishcut.com/, http://www.parmet.net/, doc.weblogs.com, buzzmodo.typepad.com, wethemedia.oreilly.com, http://www.darknet.com/, buzzmodo.typepad.com/buzznovation, amywohl.weblogger.com, http://www.leaveitbehind.com/, http://www.terrystorch.com/, blog.treonauts.com, texturadesign.com, clip-n-seal.com, http://www.stonyfield.com/, hihowaya.blogs.com/weblog

In Chapter 6: Consultants Who Get It: http://www.ernietheattorney.net/, http://betweenlawyers.corante.com/, http://www.lessig.org/blog/, http://nip.blogs.com/, http://www.okpatents.com/phosita/, http://www.promotetheprogress.com/, www.rethinkip.com, sethgodin.typepad.com, customerevangelists.typepad.com/blog, designsponge.blogspot.com, http://www.alyson.ca/, http://www.whatsnextblog.com/, http://www.bloombergmarketing.blogs.com/, http://www.allmarketersareliars.com/

On page 172 under Tip #2: Read a bunch of blogs before you start, they list: www.pubsub.com, www.bloglines.com/citations, www.feedster.com, www.icerocket.com, www.technorati.com; and under Tip #3: Keep it simple. Keet it focused, they list blogsearch.google.com and www.larkware.com/index.html. Also, they talked to hundreds of bloggers to write the book and in Acknowledgements the list even more, such as: radio.weblogs.com/0108035, whatsnextonline.com, www.collaborativemarketing.com, and www.bizdrivenlife.net.

Blogs are even listed with the book inside cover blurbs:
chris.pirillo.com, www.micropersuasion.com, www.whatsnextblog.com, www.gapingvoid.com, blog.softtechvc.com, www.guidewiregroup.com, nevon.typepad.com/nevon, randyh.wordpress.com/, technosight.com/blog, and www.cameronreilly.com

[See Crisis Blogging: risks, rewards and the rapidly changing world of best practices at Global PR Blog Week 2.0 for a first-rate analysis of how blogs now affect how a business or government successfully deals with or botches (read Katrina) any given crisis.]

What Are Blogs
Naked Conversations explores why blogs exist, namely, to help people, many of whom own or work for a business, to talk, to learn from each other, and to connect for mutual advantage. Like the ancient white oak, we are all connected. Some are in the roots, others in the branches, and others in the leaves. I am a poet and I like metaphors. For me, the blog is the trunk that allows those who are leaves to connect to those in the roots and branches who would never have known of each other in the past...and to grow together by that knowing.

In the
neighborhood in Philadelphia where I grew up, there was one mother who connected everyone and who knew how to connect you with anyone. The guy who owned the corner grocery or hardware store or the postmaster at the post office performed a similar role. They were the people who took the time and learned the skills to keep everyone connected. That world is gone, but blogs can do the same on a scale unimaginable just a few years ago. And for business, your blog (or lack of one) can determine if you succeed or fail.

naked conversations will give you the blog tools to connect your product or service to people who will then connect you to more people than you can ever reach through traditional marketing, sales, advertising.

Even if you don't like the tree metaphor you have to concede the point: blogs allow a kind of communication that is fun, agile, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding...if done correctly and successfully.

For a company, you can add that blogs can add to your profits if they are done honestly and capably. As well, they can result in a severe loss of profits if they are done dishonestly, incompetently, or poorly. The choice is yours. For how to build, maintain and promote a business blog successfully, read
naked conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

This is one of those rare manuals...a clear, concise, consistent and lucid manual....a "how to create a useful blog" manual that is beautifully written, easy to understand, intelligent, and well organized...the handbook that will give home office and corporate office workers the tools to create, communicate and illucidate.

naked conversations contains a cornacopia of suggestions for how to do it right and many examples of how to do it wrong. They skip the "Theory of Operation" by referring you to the Cluetrain Manefesto and deliver the meat and potatoes of how a business can talk with its employees and customers, it's sellers and buyers, to the people inside and outside...quickly and efficiently, through a blog. What a newspaper, telephone, TV and the old media did in centuries past, the blog is doing now...but with many more digital hyperspace features in nanotime and with you doing the talking rather than being talked at.

Chapters
Chapters and subjects covered in
naked conversations include:
Forward by
Tom Peters
Introduction: Of Bloggers and Blacksmiths
What's Happening
Souls of the Borg
Everything Never Changes
Word of Mouth on Steroids
Direct Access
Little Companies, Long Reach
Consultants Who Get It
Survival of the Publicists
Blogs and National Cultures
Thorns in the Roses

Blogging Wrong & Right
Doing It Wrong
Doing It Right

How to Not Get Dooced
Blogging in a Crisis

The Big Picture
Emerging Technology
The Conversational Era
Acknowledgements [very useful...many cutting edge blogs listed...innovative]
Name Index [crisp and lean]
Subject Index [brief and clean]

The Authors
Shel Isreal has developed launch strategies for Sound Blaster PowerPoint, FileMaker, dBase, Paradox, Mapinfo and counseled HP, MCI, Price Waterhouse. Robert Scobel helps run Microsoft's Channel 9, which is worth a visit. It is one of the few places you can get an inside view of how programmers, developers designers, geeks...and others who must work together in a corporate world to create a brave, new world and for insights for why and how they create it.

[When I worked on a very complex semiconductor manufacturing clean-room plasma tool, I suggested that we video the development process for the service technicians to help them service and maintain the tool. The idea never got past the director because he was not a fan of knowledge sharing with others, even the
engineers on his staff. My hat is off to Microsoft for creating this tool for their workers and for the wider world.]

Shel Isreal and Robert Scobel have illuminated many of the mysteries and the promise of blogs in naked conversatations. Take it out to your front porch, sit a spell, take a few hours and just read for the pure joy of reading a well-written book. This is a book to enjoy with a pen to mark up what you will need to remember and refer to again and again as you work on
your own blog. If I had this book when I started this blog...only two months ago...I would have used it as a primer and made fewer false starts and pages I later eliminated.

You may not think blogs matter. Many more think poetry does not matter.
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood said T.S. Eliot, Dante, 1920. So, too, blogs.

Blogs are On-Line Meetings 24/7
Let Isreal and Scobel show you how with this very readable guidebook.
Blogs are the riparian area between the river and the land where you can plant a few trees and watch them grow over the years. They are growing and meeting all day and all night, like trees. ( Maryland is doing a wonderful job of physically planting seedlings along riparian areas that all along the Chesapeake Watershed. These trees will eventually join up...or meet...and a restored Chesapeake Bay will result. Do the same in the virutal world and create a restored Internet.) Welcome to the next big or small blog meeting anytime, anywhere, anyhow. It will be interesting to see what the corporate world creates with blogs in the blogosphere.

Meeting
Here, ideas float mid-air
as open targets of word,

Cryptic and terse, that fire
machine-gun rapid
To take them out...one...
two...three...four...
Until at 5, an idea stays,
deflects all shots,
Floats higher and higher
and settles back
Approved, accepted, accurate
and written down
By consensus and commitment
and nods of heads
As certain as a hundred
thousand years ago
The light of electricity replaces
the light of the sun.
Remember: the idea for fire
started as humbly.

Wikiopedia's Blogosphere Defined
Wikiopedia defines the term Blogosphere as: The notion of a blogosphere is an important concept for understanding blogs. Blogs themselves are just instances of a particular formatting choice, whereas the blogosphere is a social phenomenon. What differentiates blogs from webpages or forums is that blogs can be part of a shifting Internet-wide social network formed by two-way links between different blogs. You link to my articles and I'll link to your articles, and we will both seem to be more interesting.

The Subject Index
N.B. busy executives...to my eye, this book includes an even rarer gift...a Subject Index created by a human, not a word search, so what you are looking for is clearly listed and easy to find. For example, under blogging it lists: advantages 44-45, culture 150-152, employment dangers 188-190, findable 28, Google and 28-29, linkable 28, publishable 28, six pillars 28, social 28, syndicatable 28, trends 112, viral 28.

Shifts Happen and a Story
Be prepared for some blog links moving on to another server, being abandonded, or not available when you look for them. Shifts happen...and so your the blog listed in the book may not display. Page 74 states "...Target the number-two retail chain..." and on page 133 "When Scoble spoke with Target executives, they told him that blogging was unlikely to start up inside America's fourth [-] largest retailer..." This was the only inconsistency I could find in the book (and who knows and who really cares if Target's is two or four). Point is, with such attention to detail, they did an exceptional job of creating a work that will help create a blogging civilization.

After finding this one minor inconsistency in their work, and given the cogent analysis, cherry picking of useful blogs, definitions of blog policies, plans, procedures and practices, I think Scoble and
Israel well demonstrate in their tome the very requirements they list as required of a good blog: authenticity, usefulness, integrity, connectivity to other blogs, passion, authority,simplicity, focus, accessiblity, storytelling, link...link...link, reflect the real world and maintain a referrers log.

In essence, they followed their own advice about how to create blogs when creating this book, and the work is easier to use and use again because of that. It will be assigned reading in business courses by next semester...see The Applied Blogging Workshop for how this is already happening.

When I could not find an introductory blog book at the
Barnes & NobleComplete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Web Page & Blog" or "Naked Conversations" in the business section, my immediate response was, "The latter." (And I write manuals for a living and often counter an engineers comments that "No one reads manuals anymore!" with the reply, "What about the Complete Idiot's Guide's? They're manuals and they sell in the millions. Someone's reading them.)

When they guy took the time to walk me to where the book was in the business section, selected it, and handed it to me, besides being impressed that he demonstrated the rare courtesy of customer service, I knew in a few seconds this was the definitive book on blogs I had been searching for. If you want to know what blogs are and how to create one, may you discover this paper blog book that will enrich your digital blog experience.

Reading this work was like the experience I had when a
Lockheed Martin Vice President of Corporate Communications in Bethesda, MD in 1997 was too busy to review a software disc a new company called Netscape sent him and tossed it to me (a temp) to analyze. I spent three days jumping from website to website without having to type in five lines of very dense code as with the Sailor system I was using then to get to the Internet.

I can still remember how I received a graduate-school level introduction to the possibilities of the Internet in those three days. It felt good to finally get the first clear understanding of what this internet buzz was all about. (Unfortunately, I could not get the stock end of what Netscape was
all about because, as the Brown & Co. investment banker who was one of those selling the intial public offering told me curtly, I was not a "serious" investor because I could not raise at least $50,000 in five minutes in order to bid on the stock.)

Reading store in Rockville, MD for a blog book, and the very courteous and intelligent search desk guy searched and said, we have "
naked conversations, I get the same feeling about the blog world I had when I finally began to understand what the internet was all about. My thanks to Scoble and Isreal for providing the wellspring for future blogs.

Common Sense Corporate Business Blogging Policy
Here is an IBM corporate blogging policy link to a .pdf that lists blogging guideliness as dependable, useful, and worthwhile as the old IBM Selectric. You might find these IBM blogging guideliness useful in creating your own corporate blogging guidelines. (Ah...the IBM Selectric...now there was a poet and writer's typewriter.) Here is a sample:

Guidelines for IBM Bloggers: Executive Summary

1. Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.

2. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. IBMers are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time � protect your privacy.
3. Identify yourself � name and, when relevant, role at IBM � when you blog about IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: �The postings on this site are my own and don�t necessarily represent IBM�s positions, strategies or opinions.�

5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
6. Don�t provide IBM�s or another�s confidential or other proprietary information.
7. Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
8. Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc., and show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory � such as politics and religion.
9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
10. Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Robert Scoble has a very different Blog Guidelines.

Shel Israel's Reply to an e-mail I sent him:
February 17, 2006
The Poet Understands what Our Book is About
Bruce Curley, a senior technical writer, has reviewed our book on his blog, poetslife. It's favorable but that is not why I'm writing about him. He sent me an email yesterday that moved me. It read in part:

Just yesterday, my wife sent me for paint swatch samples to the new Benjamin Moore paint store in Mt. Airy, MD where I live. I told the owner about your book, my review, and how her business might benefit if she read about the englishcut blog you describe. She said she was going to read my review and look up the book. I also told a tailor at English-American in Westminster, MD where they still make suits by hand, about englishcut.

I relay this brief story to say your book spreads by wordofmouthosphere as well as by the blogosphere, proving one of the main points you make in naked converstions.

Robert and I wrote Naked Conversations with that paint store in mind, as well as that international corporations. We get a steady flow of bloggers telling us that the stories we covered are, for the most part, old hat to them. Of course they are. We see blogging veterans as our collaborators, not our target audience. We hope that we have given blogging enthusiasts everywhere a tool to spread the word. We hope you bloggers serve as word of mouth champions to those businesses who don't yet understand the power of social media.

Bruce, yesterday was a tough day for me for a lot of reasons. Thanks. You made it a lot better.

And yours mine, Shel. Thanks for all the hard work.

[This red-tailed hawk was doing circles out out in my yard as I finished this blog book review...a good sign. As the French poet Valery reminded us, "A poem is never completed...it is only abandoned." So, too, with this naked conversations book and blog. It continues in other blogs, on iPods, in foreign lands. But the majesty of that bird is so incredible it becomes this blogs watermark...as this work takes flight to create good blogs and blogging relationships.]

N.B. Blogs and Emergency Communications: Lessons By Michael Terpin, Terpin Communications Group (civil defense lessons: TACDA)

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