A blog is a web log, a personal journal that is made available online to either users of the internet as a whole or to an organisation’s employees through an intranet. Blog postings are essentially subjective, one person’s perspective on current issues and their own experiences. Unlike a traditional journal, blogs allow readers to add their own comments to a posting, allowing for a simple dialogue to emerge around posts of particular interest.
While there are tens of millions of bloggers on the internet, only a small proportion maintain their blogs on a regular basis. One reason for this is that many of the more trivial uses of blogs, to post photos, links and quick status updates, have migrated to social networking sites. What’s left are enthusiastic writers with something to say that others find interesting. This includes those who feel genuinely passionate about a subject and those who use blogging as a way of boosting their professional profile. A small minority make money by click-throughs on adverts placed on their blogs.
For those who are prepared to share their thoughts and experiences with a wider public, there is no doubt that blogging represents an extremely powerful learning tool. Blogging is the very essence of experiential learning, because it encourages, perhaps even compels, the blogger to reflect on their experiences.
Management gurus Seth Godin and Tom Peters discussed how valuable blogging had become to them in a conference discussion available on YouTube. According to Seth, it really doesn’t matter if anyone reads the blog; what matters is the metacognition involved in thinking about what you are going to say. You are doing it for yourself to become part of the conversation even if it’s very small.
According to Tom, “No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important in my life than blogging. It has changed my life. It has changed my perspective. It has changed my intellectual outlook. It has changed my emotional outlook.” And as an extra benefit, blogging is also the “best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude.”
It is relatively easy for an organisation to make blogging possible within the firewall, as there are many stand-alone enterprise blogging tools available and blogging functionality is now routinely included in office collaboration suites. One classic use is for executives to set up blogs as a means for regular communication with employees. Wider usage is likely to be confined to those with specialist perspective to share either with their peers or with users of their services. Blogs can also be used within a blended learning solution as a way for students to maintain and share a learning journal.
at their best when voluntary, updated regularly, open and uncensored, they encourage dialogue;
best avoided when they are intended as just more formal employee communication, when overtly self-promotional.