Back in grade school, one of the lessons was that “according to the White House” didn’t really mean that the White House was talking, it meant that someone who represented the White House was talking. OK. We were children, and we were being taught the nuances of the language. But, sometimes it seems as if the institutions themselves are doing the talking, or trying to. This gets back to the “soothing, humorless monotone” of corporatespeak described in The Cluetrain Manifesto, versus the idiosyncratic language of human beings.
As the range of “Web 2.0” tools begins to be taken up by practitioners of “Gov 2.0” sometimes it seems that we start describing what we’re doing by the tool we’re using rather than by what we’re actually doing. For example, if I use a screwdriver to pound a nail into a wall, am I screwing the nail in because I happen to be using a screwdriver? In a similar vein, if an institution uses blogging software to create a website, has it created a “blog,” or is it simply a standard website created with blogging software?
This is not to say that institutional blogging isn’t possible. Wikipedia (which itself might be considered a blog) notes that there are “personal blogs” and “corporate blogs,” with external corporate blogs used for marketing, branding or public relations purposes. And, while the list on thenewpr.com highlights the growth of corporate blogs outside the government, as can be seen from the list on USA.gov, institutional blogging withing the US government has also taken off, and the blogs at america.gov is becoming a integral part of opening up the US government to an online conversation with the world.
But, what makes these blogs and not websites?
My sense is that a blog requires a human perspective, where the entries are often written in the first person by a named blogger. The ability to post comments to a blog are a bonus, but first and foremost, a blog, even though it may be institutional, must be seen to be coming from a human being within the institution.
That’s my personal opinion, open for comments. After all this too is a blog.