It’s not just teenagers

According to this BBC News Online article:

The Pew American and Internet Life Project research suggested that 12 to 17-year-olds look to web tools to share what they think and do online.

It also said they were much more likely than adults to read and have a weblog.

Important fact to note: 52% of teenagers online keep a weblog, of their own volition, in order to reflect on their lives. These will be your higher education students soon.

A common criticism of blogging is that it’s just teenagers (as if teenagers are somehow less valid), but this is a myth. Reproduced from today’s Financial Times (online here) is IBM’s list of home-grown blog guidelines:

  • Know and follow IBM’s internal conduct guidelines.
  • Be mindful of what you write. You are personally responsible for your posts.
  • Use your real name and state your role at IBM when writing about IBM-related matters.
  • Use a disclaimer stating that your postings do not necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
  • Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  • Do not leak confidential or other proprietary information.
  • Do not talk about clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
  • Respect your audience. Do not use profanity or ethnic slurs.
  • Find out who else is blogging about your topic and site them.
  • Do not pick fights, and correct your own mistakes.
  • Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

What’s interesting to me about these is that IBM – giant behemoth corporation – actively developed these with its internal blogging community, after weighing up the pros and cons of allowing their employees to blog at all. The article goes on to say:

IBM says it was careful to weigh the risks of increased transparency before it decided to embrace the trend.

“Businesses and organisations need to begin rethinking what official channels of communication are,” says IBM. “They are going to have to rethink what the official release of information means. There will probably be missteps along the way, but we see the risks and the learning curve as being worth it.”

I think this puts to bed the idea of blogging not hitting the mainstream as a method of communication. The article compares it to IBM’s mid-nineties decision to allow employees surf the web: initially they were worried about lost productivity, but they immediately began to see the benefits of having people with their ears to the ground.

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