Death to blogs. Long live blogging! (Part 2 of 2)

(For those coming in late, here’s the link to Part 1 of 2)

Let’s change what “blog” means. Better yet, what if we stopped saying “blog” when what we actually mean is “sharing and writing and publishing.” Let’s focus on why the tools and technology are out there, not what they do.

What if agencies didn’t have blogs? What if agencies just had web sites?

agency_blog_6

Blogs allow us to share ideas, links, videos and stories. They allow us to publish content easily. They allow us to raise our voices. Isn’t that also the main goal for an agency’s web site? So why do we separate them? Is it because we see blogs as an informal platform for discussion? Or are we limited by blogs in how we publish content? Is there a stigma behind the word “blog,” and therefore what it should be used to communicate?

Blogs are just the beginning. The printing press revolutionized how people communicated through published material. Then (many years later) newspapers provided an easy way to release relevant, “news-worthy” information quickly. And that’s where blogs are now. They’re great for publishing information quickly. But let’s face it, they’re glorified web publishing word processors. Look at the controls…

blogger_toolbar

This is what I see when I work in Blogger. I assume it’s pretty similar for other blogging platforms. Lots of controls to format text, the ability to add photos and create links, and that’s pretty much it. Sure, there are ways to design and control blog templates, but the content is still primarily in a column, and you scroll to read it.

word processors : blogs
– as –
desktop publishing : web publishing

When what we should be looking at, as communicators and designers, is…

newspapers : magazines
– as –
blogs : ______

Though that takes two known publishing formats and relates what’s next for blogs to magazines, which isn’t really fair. After all, magazines are limited by printing. Maybe it’s more like:

desktop publishing : visual communication
– as –
blogs : ______

There are some really nice looking blogs out there. And I’m all for nice looking blogs. What we’re talking about is changing the vehicle for the people who are thinking about how to communicate in new ways. This won’t be for everyone.

Blogs are a way to communicate ideas, culture, news, work, observations, trends, inspiration, beliefs… and that’s what great agency sites should do, but with more attention to visual communication, design, interactivity… the stuff that helps tell the story. The technology is out there; the next step is to combine the tools so content can be more than just the equivalent of desktop publishing. As visual communicators, we’re more than desktop publishers; we’re thinking of how to communicate concept and content in a way that will emphasize the brand, message and story. We’re thinking about how we can take content, format it in a variety of ways, then publish and deliver it to tell compelling stories and create powerful experiences, in ways people will want to receive it.

So what’s next? Web publishing allows for unique execution of concept. Web publishing becomes what is was before the web… visual communication design. The medium doesn’t matter. The stories have more power because of the gestalt of content and concept.

Blogs will evolve in the same way. Take Blogger, Typepad or WordPress, build a WYSIWIG editor to take the content and allow for layout and design, and publish it quickly and easily. You still get all the benefits of your RSS feeds, search engine optimization, and the other stuff tech people like to talk about. And you get to tell more expressive stories. Easy, once we find the time to build it. And we will find the time. Or someone will. Maybe it’s already out there and I just don’t know about it…

So back to the death of blogs. No, blogs probably won’t die anytime soon. There are plenty of people who are writers. They simply want to tell their story through words, maybe some photos, and publish these words to the world. They just want to be able to type. It’s death to the idea that blogs are the only way to communicate quickly, easily and online. They won’t be. Smart agencies who are using blogs to communicate will realize they don’t need to separate them from the agency site.

They should be the same thing.

It’s the flexibility to publish however you want, whenever you want. To tell a story, share an experience and inspire an idea. In any way you want… visually, through text, through video, any combination of these, and whatever else you can dream of. The amazing thing about the internet is we don’t need to be limited by the metaphor of the magazine. Magazines are static. The internet is dynamic and organic. The possibilities are endless. The tools are there.

Let’s build something wonderful.

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