Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting Naked on the Blogosphere



Want to know how blogging is impacting the world of business? Keen to find know all about the secrets of blogging success while learning about its possible drawbacks? Well, do check out Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.

Few in the blogging world are unfamiliar with Robert Scoble, author of the highly popular Scobleizer blog and one of the doyens responsible for giving fame to Microsoft's Channel 9 News. His incredible number of connections with the "Who's Who" in the blogging world helped to make this an interesting read.

Fellow co-author Shel Israel, is a long-time publicist specialising in the technology PR circuit. Some of his clients include Microsoft (launch of Powerpoint) and Sun Microsystems. Oh yes, Israel has been to Singapore before and met our rambling librarian Ivan Chew.

How does the book fare?

In terms of coverage, I would say that it is fairly comprehensive though slightly skewed towards technology companies. It provides a useful introduction to the world of business blogging and covers most of the blogerati. There are also some useful hints thrown in on how to do it right and this even includes a manifesto for corporate blogs. Other sections cover blogging trends in Europe and Asia, consultants who blog, publicists, blogging head honchos as well as blogging's brickbats.

My favourite chapter has to be the one on entrepreneurs using blogs to build communities and further their business. Some of the interesting cases covered include a church, tailor, restaurant and dairy produce farm. It also recommends some useful tips for successful blogging like posting often, talking and not selling, and showing passion and authority.

The section on emerging technologies is also interesting and it highlights a little about how podcasting's growth, RSS technology, tagging and news readers. A pity though that they did not go into greater detail on successful web 2.0 applications like youtube (which was omitted from the book altogether), Flickr and Wikipedia. Perhaps some of these technologies were still in beta stages at the time the book was authored.

One has to take some of the book's recommendations with pinches of salt. For example, I don't think Google and Apple Computer's lack of blogging employees are major issues that will haunt them. Nor that having a vice chairman that blogs at General Motors is still going to save against much speedier and nifty competitors like Toyota.

The chapter on "How Not To Get Dooced", which talks about avoiding lawsuits and being fired for blogging, may also be more relevant for American companies than Asian ones. Generally speaking, Asian companies are less litigious though their corporate cultures are usually less freewheeling too. Asian workers also tend to be more discreet about work related matters when blogging. Frankly, I am not sure if corporations in Singapore are ready to embrace a more liberal approach towards employee blogging.

In terms of writing style, the business tome is surprisingly free of guru speak and other tired management cliches. This makes it much easier to breeze through than most other management books.
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