Blogged in Boston, Day 1


Blogged in Boston, Day 2 live blog is here.

Blogged in Boston, Day 1: I’m attending the Clickz Weblog Business Strategies conference in Boston, June 9-10, 2003, and am using this page to keep a running blog of the event. It will go in chronoligical order from opening to close, top to bottom, so, if you want to see the most recent addition, scroll to the bottom.

Other live seminar blogs: (e-mail me and I’ll add yours)

Doc Searl’s Weblog
Phil Windley
Halley Suitt
Beth Goza (flashgoirl) (who has a really cool computer, but I can’t see what it is from here. Also, looking for her blog, I discovered she has a Segway.)
David Weinberger
Here’s a longer list of folks blogging live.

Wired: Happy to report that a seminar room full of people interested in blogging has plenty of wi-fi. Folks are clustering around power supplies, however. After all these years, I’ve just learned that Clickz is pronounced Click-Zee. Always thought it was a confusingly spelled “clicks.”

Opening Session – Enterprise Weblogs – Blogging For Fun And Profit: A presentation by Michael Gartenberg, vp and researche director of Jupiter Research.

No current “raw data” on weblogs, however, there is a decline in the creation of “personal websites.” But, it is assumed, weblogs are growing. Why? Rapid communications and feedback & brand extension. Gartenberg says blogs suffer from negative perceptions related to lack of authority and ego-driven movtivation of blogger. Put in postive light, however, one can say the blogger is: an expert, shares the same “ego” motivations as traditional journailst, serves different audiences than other forms of communications, is “customer centric,” is a true “no spin zone.”

Good things:

  • Too much hype, but ok
  • Leads to internal

    How to start:

  • Keep modest at first
  • Go internal before you go external (find your voice first)
  • Ask permission, not forgiveness (“you’re putting yourself ‘out there.” Know the ramifications of saying something as a corporate entity)

    Who should be blogging in a corporate environment?

  • Everyone with something to say. “They never had a means to express themselves before.”
  • Blog early, blog often. “You can’t blog too much.”
  • There are differences in personal and corporate weblogs – keep them separate.

    Okay, I’m going to disagree here. I think it is necessary to ones voice to allow the personal to be displayed from time-to-time. Without a personal voice, what’s the difference in a blog and, well, everything else. But I agree with not putting cheesecake recepies on a corporate blog. However, peach cobbler recepies are fine.

    To get started, Beta internally. Commit a core group of bloggers. Get at least a week’s worth of material. Open up for intenal review. Blog some more. Repeat three times, and then you are ready for going live.

  • Keynote – What are Weblogs?: Dave Winer, Berkman Fellow at Harvard Law School and founder of UserLand Software

    Here is a “Crib Sheet” for his presentation.

    Some people are natural-born bloggers: the guys who send out e-mail to everyone they know who could possibly be interested. Dave says there’s no difference in a blogger and reporter. Dave agrees with me, “Go ahead and put you cheesecake recipe: it will reveal something about you that may change things in ways you can’t imagine.”

    Dave observes, the “Cluetrain Manifesto and weblogs are the flip side of the same coin.” I agree, and not just because two of the authors are a few seats away. A blog is more about a personal conversation.

    Dave is refuting Gartenberg once more, “weblogs ARE personal websites.”

    Why did Dave leave the world of developing technology to enter academia? Says that the world of how people will use this technology is more interesting than developing the technology they will use. Besides, he says, he has a backlog of features that will take quite a while to role out. (Sidenote for readers of this blog who don’t know, Dave’s company hosts this site and I use Manila and ocassionally Radio, to manage its content.)

    Question, how does the word “blogging” and “journalism” relate? Dave says, Journalism has disclaimed interest and is truth. Is that a criteria for bloggin? For good ones. Dave and an attendee digress into the whole existential question, “what is journalism.”

    But journalism has editors, the attendee says. Doc says (and I paraphrase), “I have an editor: they’re called readers and they let you know instantly when you’re wrong.”

    Dave says he has a “big tent” view of journalism. I want to hear something from every angle possible.

    Someone (I wish I knew who) comments that he’s a reporter AND blogger. Says blogging has more commentary than a reporter. Also, the reporters are “there.” Dave says the opposite is true. Someone comments on the BBC’s invitation to people to contribute pictures of events like peace demonstration.

    Dave says, “So much reporting about blogs cast it in ‘us vs. them.'” Bloggers don’t get up in the morning and say, “How am I going to replace reporters? Someone says, “If Jayson Blair was blogging, he would not have lasted a week,” becaused he would have been “outted.”

    Dave argues the point someone raises that the NY Times has “authority” and blogs don’t. “The NY Times has a much bigger problem than Jayson Blair.” They have columnists that pose as journalists, says Dave. “We could talk about this topic all day, so let’s not,” he says. I agree.

    Question regarding employees with weblogs. Dave says, we required every employee to have one. “If you don’t use the software, how can you develop it?” But he had an employee who posted constantly things that didn’t display, “team spirit.” (Later he explains, he worked it out with the employee.) “Don’t get religious about it….Trust applies. Have to be able to trust people you work for and with. You have to trust that employees won’t reveal company secrets.”

    Someone asks, “How much truth does a company want?” (There’s one of those existential questions again.) Customers can tolerate truth, says Dave.

    Great riff with someone in audience (I’ll id later with a link) regarding their personal blog and the company she works for. Dave discovers who she is and says she’s a hero (or something like that).

    Dave says (again refutting Gartenberg), “No employer is ever going to approve you doing a weblog. Don’t ask for permission.” Dave says that corporations will want to edit blogs, which will then make them not weblogs. But he agrees that a company can ask to have a post remorved. Says a teacher once told him, “You can tell the truth, no say anything or lie.”)

    Dan Bricklen, from the audience, says employee agreements are going to have to get more explicit about what can be communicated outside of a company. Points out that in a public company, there is some disclosure issues.

    Panel: Are Weblogs a Threat or Opportunity for Enterprise?

    Panelists: Rick E. Bruner, President, Executive Summary Consulting, Inc., Michael O’Connor Clarke, Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick (Canada), Beth Goza, Community Lead, Windows Client Team, Microsoft Corporation; Jeff Mooney, Director, Content Product Management and Educational Services, MediaMap; Carin Warner, President, Warner Communications.

    Beth (of Microsoft) recounts her adventure with blogging and says, profoundly, that, “the only appropriate corporate marketing strategy about blogging is NO strategy.” As in, let a million flowers blossom. (She’s obviously been Cluetrained.)

    A debate erupts as to the definition of a blog. A list of links to interesting stories — is that a blog? A PR thing? The panel is proving that corporate types are a long, long way from understanding what this is all about.

    I’ve lost Internet access (I think the wi-fi is overloaded) and also lost a paragraph or two of brilliant insights of what’s taking

    The panel is asked, what are the appropriate things for a corporate blog to cover? Clarke gives the right answer, “Get out of the way.” Beth says, “I worry about ‘guerella marketing’ like Dr. Pepper did.” That’s why she identifies herself as working for MS (have I mentioned that?)

    (Doc Searles comes over to this area and says someone has created a network that is conflicting with the wi-fi. That’s probably what’s causing my current problems and has me writing this on a sticky note. Looking around, I see it’s not affecting the windoz people. (I hope I’m not the culprit.) I just checked with Doc and no, it’s not me.

    The panel, for the most part, is arguing over how many camels can fit through the eye of a needle.

    Bottomline: Beth Goza (have I mentioned she’s from Microsoft) seems (is this ironic, or what) to be the only panelist who has used a weblog long enough and most intensely to really understand what the potential of corporate blogging is. Not to complain about the other panelists, but Beth’s insight seems to be less text-book and more real world.

    Ahh. I’m back connected. I tried a radical thing: I re-booted.

    Panel: Managing a Business Blog

    Panelists: Jason Butler, Senior Product Development Manager,; Adina Levin, VP of Products, Socialtext; Biz Stone, author of the book, “Blogging.”

    Ok, I’ve lost my access again. But others have also, so this time, it’s definitely not a mac deal.

    Good panel discussion. Or, at least practical. Regarding how to “get into” blogging. But, again, it displays there are very few real-world examples that display a corporate environment that has fully embraced blogging.

    But, it seems like an exploration of the obvious: like a conference circa 1996 discussing what we can do with corporate “home pages.” Good question, “Do people who blog spend too much time doing it?” Yes, sometimes.

    Dan Bricklin asks Adina about an internal blog that’s working on an internal project. For examples, the links to competitor sites will show us as a referrer to the other site. It’s obvious Dan’s paranoia has not been considered by Adina. However, since most of Dan’s competitors are represented in the room, I’m sure they’ll be checking out their referral logs.

    Jason Butler has a good suggestion about starting a corporate weblog. “Have a mentor program.” Encourage people who know how to help novices. Have a sand-box blog for people to post things to get the experience. This is great advice as I recall how intimidating the first posts were. I still have that learning curve fear with new features. It would be good to have a mentor for Radio, for example.

    Biz Stone suggests that “role models” be suggested to new bloggers. Makes sense to me in the same way that young artists learn how to draw and paint by first copying the work of others…then developing their own style.

    Question about using the “$35 solution” of a client-based system like Blogger. Adina says the personal blogging services aren’t geared towards teams (obviously, that would be her obvservation as she’s developing a platform that does). Biz Stone says he’d like a system that he could private label and integrate into a branded environment.

    Keynote: David Weinberger on Why weblogs matter.

    David answers the question, “What is a weblog?” with some bullet points:

  • tend to be daily
  • a few paragraphs
  • reverse chronological
  • links
  • voice

    What’s the key to a successful weblog? Certainly not the technology, it simple enables the other stuff. And those other things really don’t matter, things like reverse chronology.

    However, here’s something matters: The Rhetoric of weblogs

    David says it’s important that weblogs are written poorly. You need to assume you are reading the first draft. You get this feeling that it is more “authentic.” By reading what you assume to be a first draft, the blogger is forgiven for bad spelling and bad links. All writing is a contract between reader and author: the blog contract is forgiving in nature. (Thank God, as what I’m writing now makes no sense, I’m sure.)

    A weblog allows one to create a “Social Self” It’s a proxy for yourself. It’s not like usenet. A blog is a permanent place to talk about the world.

    It’s a different kind of self than in real life. (There’s no inner.) Sorry, this is making no sense as I write it, but David’s bouncing around enables it to be very convincing.


  • Favor good writers
  • Push for self-exposure
  • Favor the unemployed (the timing was perfect)

    David now goes into a discussion of the difference in journalism and blogging and says that blogs (for the first time) allows for “multi-subjectivity.” So for the first time, we can read not just people like us believe, but what everyone around the world believes. “It’s amazing we can do this.”

    If everyone has his own voice, it looks like choas (in theory).

    Businesses have viewed themselves as fortresses. Knowledge has been their weapon. However, there are lots of ways the walls of these fortresses have been punched through. But now, weblogs, are considered an assault on these Fort Businesses. Oh yes, and there are professional gatekeepers of knowledge like journalists (and other “experts”).

    Now David does a familiar Cluetrainish example of comparing how Sears reveals knowledge about Kenmore washers and how such knowledge rooted in human experience is shared on the web. “This is what knowledge looks like on the web,” he says of a forum on home laundry equipment.

    By reading more points of view, one can come closer to the truth, says David, sort of.

    David goes into an explanation of a blog as “a persistent place” but I can’t follow it because an attendee, Adina, does something funny. She sends David an IM that is projected on the screen. A bit of presentation humor that I’ll have to remember. Now someone else does it.

    Someone asks if there’s a correlation between weblogs and the popularity of reality TV. Actually, a good question regarding the voyearistic aspects of looking into another’s lives. “Good question,” says David. “I have no idea.”

    What’s driving the interest in weblogs is the type Doc does, however, says David. Or maybe not.

  • Panel: Strategies and Tips for Business Blogging Success

    Moderator: John Lawlor, Business Blog Consultant,; Speakers: Major Chris Chambers, America’s Army; Andrew W. Hastings, Vice President, National Philanthropic Trust; Greg Lloyd, President & Co-Founder, Traction Software; Halley Suitt, Author, Halley’s Comment; Don White, Director of Communications, Piedmont Preferred Properties

    Chris Chambers retired from the Army nine day’s ago. He was a developer of America’s Army that is played by over one million players. He then started a blog (with the nickname “Scorpian” from Afghanistan. His goal was to highlight soldiers, gather his experiences, and share them. Cool. I wonder if his posts were edited before he posted them?

    Halley is commenting. Telling about the early days of her weblog, regarding her father’s death and her divorce, in other words, a very personal blog. But has recently written a fictitional case study on a personal blogger who gets discovered by her boss and the conflict that arises.

    Halley is complementing Major Chambers’ blog. She’s really complementing him. Is she hitting on him? She says something about customer intimacy.

    Major Chambers is asked why he did not continue to blog in Iraq. He says, and I’m glad to hear it, that most people were too busy getting ready to fight. It is interesting to think that in the future, there will be soldiers blogging from the front lines, taking the “embedded” concept to a whole deeper level.

    John Lawlor says that marketers are five years away from having any idea about what to do with blogs (that’s my paraphrase). He said, “If you’re in marketing, then you’re three years ahead just because you discovered this meeting.” Ok. I guess since I’ve been doing this blog for a couple years, then I’m, like, lapping myself…or chasing my tail, whichever metaphor works best.

    Panel: Blogs as a content management platform:

    Panelists (I’ll link them later.) Moderator: Matthew Berk, Senior Analyst, Jupiter Research; Speakers: Mike Amundsen, President, EraServer.NET; Timothy Appnel, Independent Writer; Bill French, Co-Founder, MyST Technology Partners; John Robb, President and COO, Userland Software; William Stow, President, Tsunamin Corporation; Adam Weinroth, Founder, Easyjournal LLC.

    John Robb says big companies are not longer buying content management systems, but web framework platforms and then using a low-cost content management solution. No, wait, he was much more articulate than that.

    William Stow says current content management systems tend to repress voice.

    Adam Weinroth created Easyjournal last year in his apartment and now has 65,000 registered users.

    Matthew Berk says that he consults with large companies who have invested greatly in content management systems that could be replaced with a robust bloglike content management system. Gee, I know one of those.

    John Robb says Userland has 2,500 corporate clients (and govts., school systems, military) that use their platform as a content management solution.

    Bill French says, “the more you call something a ‘blog’ the more you put it in a vise. It makes it sound like something that could not be robust enough to be a content management system.

    Mike Amundsen says something insightful about the term “content management” soon being obsolete. “We don’t say one has ‘content management’ for the e-mail.” Unfortunately, I was trying to do four things at once and missed his bigger point. (Thank God there are 50 people in this room all taking notes that I can read.)

    Adam Weinroth says that consumer bloggers care more about visual enhancements than about features others might consider more important – the ability to use a cool curser, for example.

    Now there is a debate on whether “blog software” is going to disappear (John Robb says no, of course) vs. “content management software.” Blog software is a separate category, says John. Mike Amundsen says blog features (including RSS feed) will be a part of the operating system or a features in all software. John says the word “extensibility” or is it “extendibility” to describe something I am completely fogged about. Adam Weinroth, surprise, says blog software is here to stay. The software is “filling the gap” for software small companies and nonprofits can use to communicate at the grassroots level…to use as a content management system.

    Matthew asks the obvious, “then why haven’t small business owners used “fill in the blank” that have been available for years?” Because they are lame, says Adam.

    Ironically, I’m sitting behind someone who has no idea who I am, but who is perhaps one of the world’s leading authorities on this topic, Dan Bricklin. He’s shaking his head and I’m wishing he would speak up. Knowing him (which I don’t), I think he will. Oh, I just noticed he’s on the next panel, so he’ll get the last word.

    Timothy Appnel says, “I have to pry Frontpage out of the hands of my clients.”

    Adam says, “The interface is huge. The ease of use is important. What is the cost of training people on Vignette. Think of the barriers to entry. What it takes to get a content management system up and running (at the enterprise level).”

    Matthew Berk says, “It’s all about content – structured and reusable..” “It’s all about the interface.” Geocities didn’t work because it was lame. There were too many choices.

    Berk adds, “The guys at the top end (doesn’t say Vignette, Broadvision, but I’m filling in the blank) are in big trouble.”

    Doc (from the audience) says, “I hate the word content.” “I’d rather call it something else. People don’t ‘produce content’ when they blog.” “We don’t live to produce content.”

    However, we should live to be contented.

    Panel: Blogging Technologies and Platforms: Today and Tomorrow

    Panelists: Moderator: Doc Searls, Senior Editor, Linux Journal
    Speakers: Dan Bricklin, CTO, Interland, Inc.; Anil Dash, Vice President of Business Development, Six Apart; Bob Frankston, Independent Consultant
    Michael Gartenberg, VP & Research Director, Jupiter Research; John Robb, President and COO, Userland Software; Jason Shellen, Associate Program Manager, Blogger

    This is a powerhouse panel that represents many of the people and companies who have created the platforms and philosophical foundation on which the blogospher is built (okay, I’ve used the word).

    John Frankston says, “Most people still think the Internet is the home shopping network and that blogging opens up

    Dan says, “blogging is part of a small business website, a tool…you have to integrate the two.” He uses the metaphor (duh) of the spreadsheet development to say we’re at about the level of Lotus 1-2-3…not yet at Excel. When he said it, it made more sense than it does when I write it.

    Dan really likes photos. He’s been taking pictures all day.

    Michael Gartenberg says that Jupiter’s research shows that people want to access and keep up their weblogs (and other web stuff) on at least two or more devices.

    John Robb says that the new version of the userland platform is about to come out. Cool features like posting via e-mail. New Radioland will have two-way synching. There will be P2P features also that will help in publishing larger content like big graphic files. John says, “I don’t want to blog in multiple locations. I want to blog once, publish several places.”

    Anvil is describing something that reveals “who I am” through “what I read and listen to.” He describing something that sounds vaguely like on steroids.

    Doc asks, “Is a blog a social contract or just ‘publishing something?” in response to an Anil comment. Good question. Bob Frankston says, “if you expose yourself, then you’re blogging.”

    Doc brings it back to topic. “I have a problem with some tools.” Doc says he wants to be able to use a key command to place links in the outliner of Radio. John hems and haws, but Dave Winer speaks up from the back of the audience that he will do it for Doc. (Adds that it’s a scripting thing and if you can script, anyone can do it.)

    Doc complains to Jason that Blogger’s permalinks don’t work out of the box. Jason admits it and says that the new version has better templates and works better.

    Jason has a good observation when people in the audience start raising concerns with features. “We use the platform everyday.” In other words, we know your pain.

    Dave Winer challenges the use of Anil of the phrase “open source” that means “you can change it” vs. “it’s free.”

    Doc explains, his “ideal.” Wants to save photos on his home computer and serve them up (rather than using a hosting company). Do blogs have the “clout” (my word) to drive the file hosting model we have currently?

    Anil says the “cloud” model is a better model than the home model. Jason agrees.

    From the audience: An ideal, “dreamweaver lite” for blogger, is suggested. Anil says it’s available. You can publish to Radio using dreamweaver. Dan says, WSWYG will be available in all the software before long. And starts talking about some more cool features that I doubt I’ll ever get around to understanding.

    Doc says at Digital Hollywood last year, he was the only one who had a laptop there…and the only one who didn’t have a TiVo.

    Great panel.

    See you later.

    Blogged in Boston, Day 2 live blog is here.