VOF Week 3: (My Two Cents)
Blogging is big. It often feels like EVERYBODY has a blog, and almost every major nonprofit organization (at least in the U.S.). And why not? Blogs are much easier to create and maintain than its predecessor, the personal webpage – just pick a venue, pick a title, and JUST START TYPING! IT’S FREE! Although I’m a little nostalgic for the boundless creativity afforded by a personal webpage, especially once I finally got Dreamweaver and learned to use Flash. You’re only limited by the extent of your imagination. But then again, it takes a lot of time and planning. I spent hours designing graphics, playing with fonts, placement and navigation and plotting dynamic little mouse roll-over surprises that I barely had time for content! I admit I rarely did more than an [impeccable] “welcome” page.
Then there was Live Journal and Xanga. This was before Blogger and Word Press. Social networking sites like Friendster and MySpace are a different breed, but became more sophisticated and began to allow similar functions. Have you seen some of those pimped-out MySpace pages? And now there’s Facebook status and Twitter – the latest micro-blog trend in which users broadcast frequent and short snippets of their current goings-on. [There are also Wikis – template-based cooperative webpages, which have been slow in getting picked up, perhaps because we have so many options before us.]
Blogs, like all Web 2.0 technology, has received both accolades and criticisms. At the forefront of citizen journalism, it’s democratizing media production in revolutionary ways. People who have traditionally been locked out of mainstream media outlets (i.e. anyone NOT a straight, white, middle-aged man) can have their voices heard through this user-friendly and cost efficient platform. But, as I mentioned, it often feels like EVERYBODY has a blog. It’s an already oversaturated market. Do I really want to throw my two cents in? It brings to mind something I heard someone say: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Or, commenting on nonprofits who leap into the blogosphere before thinking, a nonprofit marketing professional once said, ‘If you don’t have anything to say, you… should probably sit down.” I’m sure you’ve seen them, organizations with a blog where the last entry is dated August 2007. What these organizations don’t realize is that blogging takes time (!) and effort (!) to be current, interesting, informative and most importantly in my opinion, CONSISTENT. For organizations, this means that blogging must be integrated into a staff member’s responsibilities. With so many blogs vying for our attention, you can’t afford to let it slip.
This has been one of my barriers to blogging. Without many bells and whistles, blogs are content-driven. Do I have something to unique and valuable to contribute? Do I have the time? The answer is a resounding YES… And no – but like all things that are important to you, you’ve got to make time, right? So while I am not exactly on time for this VOF entry, I am making time put my two cents in.