Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Transparency, blogging and corporate blogs

One of the supposed advantages to blogging is that it's supposedly transparent. By posting your thoughts openly, freely, in a personal voice, etc, that somehow makes the process transparent. Hmmm... I'm not sure.

Transparency, How Far Do We Go?

Blog transparency -- synthetic or authentic?

Corporate Blogging as Synthetic Transparency?

Using ‘Synthetic Transparency’ to set Expectations on the level Transparency Found on your Corporate Blog

The "synthetic transparency" line is a kind of false transparency that is consciously or unconsciously put into the blog. The blogging paradigm is to strive for transparency, but you can talk the talk without walking the walk.

The thing I take from the above blog postings is about the expectations you make by how the blog site is constructed. For example the typical blog software package allows the readers to make comments, so if in the installation you leave commenting enabled then the users will expect to have a conversation with you through your comments. That's pretty clear.

Alternatively if you aren't going to reply to comments, and you turn off commenting the question is will the users feel frustrated at being unable to comment? Is their default expectation to make comments? Or do they see the "comment" button and have a Pavlovian response and later have frustration when they find it's all a fa├žade?

I sure don't know the answer to those questions, but aren't they interesting?

My opinion is that a blog is a web site, and the owner of the web site can conduct that web site however they wish. If they wish to just use it for news releases, then more power to them. It's just a web site, and the functionality of blog software makes it very suitable for press releases. If they wish to just post sales gimmicks, then more power to them. It's their web site and it's up to them how they use it.

If the web site owner wants to use their blog software to conduct a typical blog, then sure of course they should consider following the usual norms of blogging. That's called living up to the expectations they set.

Clearly if the web site owner wants to use blog software to post news releases, they probably don't want people making comments on them, so of course they should turn off the comment and trackback features of their blog software. Further they should work on the site templates to remove any hints that it's a blog. Again that's about properly setting expectations, this time ensuring that people don't get triggered into a pavlovian response and expectations of being able to comment when comments are not allowed.