I want to apologize for the hiatus. I’m just back from a short vacation with old college friends on a 6 mile long pond outside of Parsonfield, Maine. We stayed in a rustic camp right next to the water where the fog lifted off of the lake in the early morning and the cry of the loons broke the silence at night. A little bit of heaven.
Now refreshed from my travels, I wanted to report back on a meeting of the eBig Blog/RSS SIG that I attended last night. Some of the discussion centered on the difference between a web site and a blog. Bill Flitter, the group’s chairman, lead the discussion.
“Web sites,” Bill reflected, “are designed by committee from the top down. Words, messages, product descriptions are carefully controlled and managed. They reflect company policy and procedure in a consistent format. A good analog would be a catalog.”
Websites are used to provide information, to educate and promote a company’s products and services.
“Websites,” says Flitter, “are hard to manage and update, require an IT department or webmaster to manage and are not interactive.” “Blogging, by contrast, lives up to the promise of the Internet, by offering interactivity, and publishing made easy for the layman as well as the technologist. Blogs come with a different mind set and do things differently as well. When we go to a web site we go to read. With blogs we can read and comment and then continue the discussion on our own site.”
Many websites seem to get updated every few months or even years. The reason is that we must suggest changes, get their approval, to go an expert, review the changes and then wait until they are executed. It is a time consuming, laborious and expensive task. Compare that to updating a blog, and typing in a post with no more difficulty than sending an email.
“Blogs are viral, and that is a huge difference,” emphasizes Flitter. “They allow for your message to grow virally, which helps with your search engine ranking. There is a collective social voice with blogging and a transparency.”
Can you imagine Philip Morris or even McDonalds allowing customers to provide feedback on what is wrong with their products? Well, blogs do just that, and they are, according to Flitter, our fastest growing on-line medium.
Others at the SIG group that evening offered that blogs have a personal voice, a chronology of posts and an archive on specific topics that can, most importantly, be searched. There are also new standards for distribution and access to blogs, such as RSS or Atom feeds and readers. Blogs are about relationships and building community. They are dynamic, an ongoing conversation.
Websites, by comparison are reasonably static, not so much a personal conversation as the company’s official story, important to know and use.
Both websites and blogs provide information that educates and informs. Today, I believe both have a place. But as Flitter suggests “what happens if you simplify the tools for website creation and make them interactive as well?” Today most people consider a blog just another kind of website. Perhaps, someday they will be.