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It is better
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the web than
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not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
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That Blog Thing IV

(October 01, 2003) - Underlying our review of things blog is a pretty simple idea. Blogs can help you learn how to use the web effectively in ways that more traditional web design thinking obscures or has forgotten. The web is broad and roomy and features all sorts of styles and approaches. The biggest winners from Dot-com 1.0 all tend to have a similar look and feel. They have a similar tone. They have similar policies. It's a formula. Blogs are different.

3. Blogs are conversational.

Conversational marketing (word of mouth, web driven) is what they're going to call the thing that comes after viral marketing. There is a level of intimacy available on the web that exceeds any other media's ability to reach a reader (consumer). The distancing tone of high volume websites (that take their rhetorical models from traditional print media) is the opposite of the engaging feel of clumsier sentence structure, an occasional misspelling and the passion that seeps through in normal conversation. Blogs have a tone that makes it clear who the author is and that the material is unfiltered. This technique creates a sense of greater trust which can be harvested to give certain ideas energy and circulation.

4. Blogs revitalize the importance of linking.

The New York Times, and others of its ilk, have a policy that clearly identifies them as old school media. They do not link outside of their own universe. They believe that the information contained within their small universe is self-contained and adequate.

Links are the currency of the web. If you are satisfied with the level of traffic you are buying, you need not consider linking to the rest of the world. For most, however, there is not enough traffic to be had by pretending to be the final information destination of your readership. Rather, many great websites have learned that it is far better to be a point of departure than a destination. They know, as blogs are good at demonstrating, that a visitor who gets pointed to a great link will be back for more.

Bloggers have evolved tools for publicly acknowledging powerful referring sites, linking to key sources (Blogrolling), tracking referring links by article, and measuring status by the number of inbound links. On some levels, though not all, blogging success is measured in links. On a less competitive level, links help to identify the boundaries of the universe you inhabit. These processes, which couple technical functions (reading referral logs and synthesizing them) with immediate meaning creates much of the sustained interest in the blogosphere.

Imagine of one or more of the top job boards began running similar results of job posting popularity. Nothing would have a greater impact on the quality of job postings.

5. Blogs focus on credibility and reputation.

The same tools used to assess popularity and influence are a part of the blog-world's reputation and credibility infrastructure. Blogrolls are the long lists of links on one side of the blog. They point to friends and sources of the author. A blogroll says, "I trust these people, you might enjoy them too."

There's an interesting self-fulfilling prophecy involved. Since Google rankings are dependent on the number of inbound links, Blogrolls stimulate the Google ranking of each website listed. That favor, well understood in the Blog Kingdom, is often reciprocated after a fashion. This makes the reputation and credibility factors sing with reciprocal linking and cross-pointing. A small mention in any of a dozen or so blogs can put your posting at the top of the lists in the various tracking tools.

6.Blogs create ongoing conversations with an audience.

All blogs contain a feature that allows comments (it's not always turned on but it's always there). In many cases, the comments on the comments on the comments are the most interesting facet of reading a blog. The audience (partly because traffic plus links equals ranking) is an essential element. Blogs form internal conversations with their specific audiences and between blogs with a range of links. It's almost unfair to think about it as this website vs that website. They are a part of a kaleidoscopic conversation.

John Sumser

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