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Monday, January 5, 2009

Maximize the value of your content by blogging

1:04:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , , No comments

This is from my post “Information Management Principle #2 – Information is a means to an end”:  

There is no value in information which is not – sooner or later – being used. Information that might be of use sooner or later holds a potential value, but that value is not realized until it is actually used for something. Simply put, information is just a means to an end.

And this is from the post "Information Management Principle #3: Information needs to flow

To realize this value potential, the information needs to flow. It needs to flow to the people who needs it to achieve their goals. It needs to flow to them whenever they need it and wherever they are.

If you have some content (which you have encoded information and/or experiences into) that you think might be valuable for others to consume, then at least the following five basic conditions need to make it flow smoothly to those who might want or need it: 

  • It shall be easy to capture and create
  • It shall be easy to share
  • It shall be easy to find
  • It shall be easy to access
  • It shall be easy to consume

Blogs fulfill all of these conditions:

  • You can capture or create whatever you would like to share using text, images, sound, video or whatever. If you have Internet access and a web browser, you can insert it into a blog post with just a few clicks. If you do not already have a blog, you can create one for free blog within seconds and without any technical skills.
  • When you press the publish button, you share your content with everybody on the Internet.
  • Search engines and other bloggers make content that people find valuable easy to find, but you might have to work on it for a while to make it cut through the noise and hit the surface. But anyone can be given a direct link to your blog or the RSS feed.
  • Since most blogs are public and the content is rendered with HTML, the content can be accessed by anyone with Internet access and a web browser.
  • The content can be consumed directly on the blog, via the RSS feed (in a consistent format) that can be consumed in a reader or homepage, or even via e-mail.

A blog can be used for many different purposes. Blogs can be classified in many different ways (dimensions) depending on perspective and it is often hard to categorize a blog as either ‘this’ or ‘that’ since they are often used for multiple purposes. When looking at how blogs can be used for business purposes, it can be valuable to classify blogs using the following categorization:

  • Blogs as journals – blogs used for recording (usually personal) experiences, observations and events
  • Blogs as notebooks – blogs used for collecting and sharing thoughts, reflections, ideas or things heard, seen or read at the spur of moment
  • Blogs as news sites – blogs used for producing or aggregating and sharing information about recent and upcoming events
  • Blogs as scrapbooks – preserving personal and family history in the form of photographs, printed media, and memorabilia
  • Blogs as guides – directing users to other destinations (linking)
These types of blogs can be used for personal or commercial use by an individual or group of individuals to communicate anything about any subject to any audience for any purpose. For this communication, virtually any type of content (text, photos, video, graphics, sound, music) can be used. 

In a business context, a blog can be used by a product owner in a business to communicate news about R&D, marketing and sales of a product to colleagues (news site). A project manager might set up a blog to communicate current status, risks and meeting notes to project stakeholders (journal / news). Members of a business team might use a blog for communicating their thoughts, ideas, reflections and observations on how the work they do can be improved.

If I look at this blog, The Content Economy, it is used by me and Henrik Gustafsson for communicating our personal ideas, observations and reflections about subjects such as Information Management, ECM and Enterprise 2.0 to anyone who shares our interest. We use primarily text and sometimes graphics to do so.

Using the classification above, I would classify the blog as an online notebook. In a way, I personally use the blog as a complement and extension of my analog notebooks. But it is also somewhat of a guide as some posts have the purpose of directing you to other destinations on the web (like the weekly post that I cal “This week in links”). I sometimes write about recent and upcoming events, but I have no ambition to be first with news and basically only post about news if I have something to add such as a reflection or observation. The blog is not much of a journal and definitely not a scrapbook. So – although it varies over time - it is 80% notebook and 20% something else. Here is some of the value I get from using the blog as a notebook:

  • By making my ideas accessible to others to read, comment, link to and forward to others, I am forced to think a little more about them than if I would only write them down in an analog notebook.
  • I might get valuable feedback from readers who comment blog posts, from other bloggers that link to and comment on my posts, and from analyzing statistics about the blog and feed.
  • I can keep track of interesting content from other sources without having to print it, download and store it on my desktop, or create links that I have to maintain as favorites in the web browser – I simply take small snapshots of them and post these on the blog with a link to each source.

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