I finally got around to reading “Uses of Blogs” today, a book I picked up at the AOIR conference in Brisbane back in September 2006. I should have read this book sooner; it was a relevant and stimulating treatment of blogging.
I found the chapters on blogging in PR and academia most interesting (go figure). A couple weeks ago, I started a sort of apprenticeship with an Austin-based web marketing consultant. So far, I’ve learned a lot about marketing and public relations online. I’m more interested in the PR aspects of this kind of work, but it’s great to learn about the marketing side of things, too. Anyway, I’m coming to realize the importance of good content to a successful marketing and PR effort. Trevor Cook’s chapter about PR emphasizes this point.
In his chapter, Cook also discusses the always on, conversational nature of PR online. Blogs play an important role in the “dialogue” of contemporary public relations by allowing practitioners to interact with publics in a real-time, one-to-one, permanent space. Blogs allow practitioners to create relationships with individuals and not just broadcast dumbed-down messages to mass audiences. Lots of good stuff in that chapter, and I will definitely be coming back to some of these ideas.
The chapters about blogging in academia focused on issues of collaboration and intellectual discourse, transparency and hierarchy. Specifically, Jill Walker’s chapter about blogging inside the ivory tower focuses on issues related to a scholar’s position in the academic hierarchy and her online interactions. Interestingly, Walker thinks grad students are in the best position to blog openly (and under their real names) about both the academic process and the content they study. I don’t disagree with that; I certainly have used this blog for exploring a range of topics, including research ideas, the process of earning a Ph.D., personal interests, etc… It does seem like the various responsibilities of a faculty or administrative position could dampen an individual’s desire to be completely free and open with blog content. As a student, however, I don’t really feel that pressure. I certainly don’t feel like my blog will negatively impact my dissertation process or job prospects. I guess we’ll see about that soon enough…
Overall, this book was a pretty quick read, and some of the chapters were more relevant to me than others. But it got me thinking in different ways about issues I think a lot about already.