October 20, 2004

Is Blogging Like Being In A Civic Club? At Least As Far As Value Is Concerned?

You know, I like what Doc is saying about his Bloggercon III session. Because to me, blogging is not about an equivalency (eg, I do this and get that). Blogs can direct value in a way, for example, with corporate blogging, in the sense that information is more transparent and humanly accessible, than before someone at the company blogged. And blogs can display ads and make some money, but most blogs don't and won't make real money. Overall, generalized, I think blogging is an action and practice that is about something else. A different sort of value than money or direct economic value.

Trying to quantify economic value doesn't work for blogging, or a lot of other online information activities. It is comparable to conversation in this way: people talk to each other, and they rarely expect to monitize the direct conversation. They don't walk up to someone at a party, say something, and expect to make some value in the words; people would think they were creepy and weird if they did.

It reminds me of when I was growing up and my father was in a civic club. He was in it because locally, he wanted to help the community, meet others who wanted to do the same, collaborate on projects that were interesting or fun for the community (very little of his business work applied to many of the civic club members there directly, though other locals did go for business networking of an indirect sort) and learn things because they had weekly speakers. And the fact that people in the community had regular contact also had the added benefit of putting a personal face and interaction on what otherwise would just be a business or institution that might feel distant and not accessible or human.

But it turns out that when it came time for him to work on getting the health non-profit he was CEO of set up in countries around the world, the network of men and women in that club around the world opened amazing doors for him, because he had participated in the place we lived and they saw that, it queued them to listen to and trust him, and they wanted to help. Their contacts and time were donations to a non-profit they believed in, run by people they liked. (In fact my parents are still friends with most of them, and they visit each often in retirement). The civic club was absolutely key to getting the non-profit into the networks of people who knew how to efficiently deal with each country's local government regulations, health networks, and navigating the bureaucracies. There was no money changing hands, no promise of economic gain. And his community work didn't set out to create a direct effect. But there was a connection and an indirect effect.

It feels odd to say this, in reference to what the question is that Doc poses, which is about a kind of information economics and value of online information and action, but it seems to me that there is a spiritual or karmic quality to this. People participate, share information, collaborate, help each other, discover things, for reasons that compel them, and it just doesn't seem to be about money. In fact, money would probably kill the desire to blog if it was some direct thing for most people. It's a desire to make something useful, helpful, or even if it's a statement, it might be a question they ponder. And for corporate or other more formal blogs, it's an opportunity to converse with customers more humanly, to share information that might later result in a sale, but isn't directly about selling the words.

Blogging is about participating, saying what you believe, changing the information possibilities. People don't always blog specific things for the best reasons, but regardless, it seems like this kind of sharing overall is similar to the civic club interactions my father used to go to for connecting, sharing, helping and discovery. I think blogging is closer to that old civic club sort of model than anything else I can think of at this moment, as far as any direct value is concerned.

Posted by Mary Hodder at October 20, 2004 03:35 PM | TrackBack