Mknac’s Weblog

Diving into the shallow pool of Web 2.0 and Social Media head first!

Milblogs; From the front to your PC

I’ve looked at several milbogs over the last couple days and have been generally impressed with the writing and coverage of diverse issues.  If you are looking for information about what’s going on try the perspective of one of our soldiers.  Its certainly different than what the media is telling you.

 

Coverage of conflict zones has changed significantly since WWI and the new globally connected Internet era that we live in has changed how we get information about the conflict in the Middle East and else where significantly. Unlike WWI during WWII the combat photographer and other government motion and still photographers brought the front lines to the home front during the war.  In Vietnam you saw a shift from government combat photographers to media reporters in the battlefield such as Dan Rather for example.

 

Now in 2008 although the media attempts to cover the war there are certain things and dangerous areas that they choose not to cover.  In many areas bloggers are filling in these gaps.  Military bloggers are covering stories, areas, and other topics that weren’t even considered during the Persian Gulf War of the 1990s.  The landscape of reporting from the front lines has changed due to blogging.

 

Milblogs is the term used for service members who blog.  Using web 2.0 and other social media platforms today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are blogging about their experiences in the military and specifically about their tours of duty in combat zones such as Iraq.  The old war news reels that were shown to audiences in movie theaters helped to promote the agenda of the nation and kept everyone informed about what was going on in the European and Pacific theaters.  News from the government, for the government and by the government was the generally the way of the times although the press certainly did their share of reporting also.  It is also important to remember that in WWII news was always delayed by from several days to several weeks.  Vietnam had a much quicker turn around but sometimes stories were still delayed a day or today.

 

Today in the era of global Internet-based communications news from the war zone is available almost as soon and soldiers return from a mission.  Military bloggers are bringing stories of the conflicts the U.S. is engaged into the homes of anybody with a computer and Internet connection.  If you are interested there many milblogs to choose from and new milbogs coming online every day. These bloggers are going out and conducting dangerous missions and then blogging about them soon after their return.  These bloggers sometimes include photos and video that they took.

 

I think this level of interaction with our service members is good for our country.  It is important that those of us not in the military and not engaged in the conflict remain connected to those who wear our nation’s uniform.  The public needs to know what is really going on in these areas and who is better positioned to tell you than those on the ground where the rubber meets the road?  Additionally an added benefit is that blogging allows soldiers to stay in touch with their families and friends giving them and us insight to what daily life is like is like in the sandbox.

 

Some milbogs if you’re interested:

American Soldier 

The Long War Journal 

Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal

The Thunder Run 

Army of Dude

July 21, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Blogs; changing business communications?

The blogosphereIn “Naked Conversations,” by Robert Schoble and Shel Israel, they advocate that blogging is changing the way business approaches communications on all levels.  The title “Naked Conversations” refers to the transparency of corporate blogging with their customer rather than hiding behind politically correct corporate speak, PR lingo, or buzz words.  The authors claim that honest straight forward conversations with customers and other stake holders are the trend of communications and benefit both parties.

They cite many examples of companies that have successfully used blogs and where a blog may have helped a company during a crisis communications situation.  Two examples that stick in my mind are Microsoft and Kryptonite.  Mainly because I use many Microsoft products and being a cyclist I used a Kryptonite lock at one time.

In the Microsoft example Schoble and Israel show how through blogging Microsoft was able to shed or seriously diminish the “evil empire” reputation Microsoft had acquired of many years.  When customers, suppliers and contractors where engaged with individual bloggers within Microsoft they came to know the individual employees working on different projects with different goals, objectives and problems.  Before Microsoft started blogging people just thought every employee as part of machine.  Afterwards they were people.

Kryptonite on the other had a very negative experience as they got steamrolled by bloggers.  Kryptonite was a leading manufacturer of bicycle locks.  A customer with a serious issue called the company to tell them about a design flaw in one of their most popular locks.  After not receiving a response he post directions on popular on-line bike forums about how to pick the locks with a Bic pen.   The directions spread to more widely read blogs.  The company, unaware of the blogosphere, worked in a traditional communications strategy.

Schoble and Israel state “By ignoring the blogosphere, Kryptonite gave millions of people the impression that the company had neither sympathy nor remedy for its customers.”  Eventually a video of how the pick the lock ended up on the blogosphere.  A little over a week after the first posting of the issue Kryptonite announced that it would replace all “Bic-pickable” locks at an estimated cost of $10 million.  If Kryptonite had been engaged in the blogsphere and the cycling community knew they were working on the problem could the outcome have been different?  We’ll never know but I suspect Kryptonite’s customers would have been less critical in this situation if they had engaged their customers through blogging.  Kryptonite had huge customer loyalty that was quickly lost when customers believed the company was treating them indifferently.  (I no longer use a Kryptonite lock myself.)

I believe that blogs are a powerful communications tools and that government, NGOs, and business will begin using blogs to communicate directly and more effectively with customers and stakeholders.  I do feel that blogging rather than wiping out communications practices will become one more tool in the savvy communicator’s bag that he or she will use to get messages out rather than replacing what we view as traditional communications practices today.

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The picture of the blogosphere is courtesy Matthew Hurst.

For an explanation of Matthew’s picture see “Map: Welcome to the Blogosphere” by Stephen Ornes.

June 26, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blogs Blogging and Bloggers is there a rhyme or reason?

I had time to reflect today upon my fledgling blog and those of my classmates. What I noticed is that many of our blogs to include mine, although new, weren’t focused on one subject that we may be or hope to be an SME in. My blog’s first three entries covered an assignment, some of the reasons I don’t like or consume traditional news media products and brushless electric motors for RC car racing. That last one sure diverged from the first two.
So what is the purpose of this blog? Although I mentioned this in my “about me” link generally as a graduate student at Georgetown University working on a masters degree in Public Relations and taking a social media class, social media and the digital disruption, this blog is for me to experiment with blogging and other Web 2.0 and 3.0 platforms. The hope is that I’ll learn to understand how to incorporate Web 2.0 into my various communications functions in the work environment.
So between blog assignments for class I’ll blog about what ever things or events of interest I come across throughout this semester. So if my posts seem a bit random they will be. The good news is you won’t know what’s over the next hill. So stay tuned.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment