What I learned at Bergman last night: Here's a new insight (for me) about blogs and centralized control. Ask yourself the question: "What happens when an organization (say a political campaign) gives and allows it's people to each speak their mind directly and publicly (say with a blog, but I suppose that's not the only way)?"
My first reaction was that there would be chaos, loss of message, and basically that it would never happen. A political campaign is about getting someone elected, isn't it? That requires a focused message, careful and aggressive marketing, etc. etc. none of which fit a scenario where all campaign workers are invited to blog.
I am not so sure...
An analogy that occurs to me is another kind of organization I know well: Microsoft. They are viewed as the ultimate marketing machine. Everyone is, robot-like, supposed to be on message, right?.
Think about this:
- Are all 50,000 Microsofties blogging? Clearly no. Many of them don't have the inclination or ability. Further, are all the blogs being read by anyone? Again no. There is nothing like chaos.
- Has there been a loss of message or control? Again, clearly, No. While it is obvious that the blogs are coming from inside Microsoft, I don't perceive them as the party line. In fact, they help me understand and interpret the party line and decide whether I buy it or not.
- What impact then have these blogs had? Hard to say in general. It depends on what the readership is (who and how many.) But I can say that for me, they have had a very positive, constructive effect, as I relate to Microsoft. A humanizing effect.
Why would this same dynamic not apply political campaigns? I think it just might. In fact why limit thinking to political campaigns? More on this some other time.
P.S. Read this article that Dave Winer wrote two years ago. Deep inside the article, there are three paragraphs which totally anticipate the scenario I describe above. There is too much to quote here, but look for the section that starts:
"Encourage your community members to gather facts, draw conclusions, state opinions and organize others into action.[...]"
You should read the actual thing. Cool.