The first blog post is a tricky thing. (Unless, that is, you’re content with the simple “Hello World!” in which case it’s the second blog post you need to worry about.) The first blog post sets the tone for what is to follow. Perhaps it gives a synopsis of the blog’s raison d’être or maybe it dives right in trying to be an informative, imaginative, illuminative, (n * i…ative) piece of literature. After that, how many grow disheartened (or just busy) and don’t post ever again or tail off and end up with less than a dozen posts at the end of the year? (If you are vaguely interested, One Post Wonder has a growing list of the former and Technorati estimate that 95% of 133 million blogs haven’t been posted to in the last four months.)
Blogging requires effort. How many companies have made the (essentially laudable) decision that “We NEED a blog! Have it on my desk by the end of the week!” only to then falter through not quite knowing what the blog should contain, what ‘voice’ the company should have, how they want to come across to their customers or being so constrained by ‘brand-guidelines’ or hyperactive legal departments that by the time something is posted it’s old news: “Three Day Sale – Ends Last Sunday”, “Gadget-a-Matic launches the last gadget you’ll ever need – ooops”.
A blog is a very enticing thing both for giant corporations and for individuals with and without worldwide acclaim. There are so many high-profile blogs and bloggers. If ranking in the search engines is your thing then you simply must read Matt Cutts and Bruce Clay and SEObook and SEOmox and [dozens of other blogs]. If you want your news in blog-sized pieces then The Huffington Post or Boing Boing are the way to go. If you just want plain old internet humour then XKCD, The Sneeze, Cockeyed.com and Icanhascheezburger are all sitting patiently waiting for you to wile away the afternoon and evening with them “What do you mean it’s 1 AM?”. For every topic you can imagine there are a handful (or several large handfuls in some fields) of highly recommended go-to blogs. But for every high profile blogger there are hundreds, thousands, millions of bloggers who have less than ten regular readers – those who abandon their blog as a lost cause when something more interesting comes along “Ooooh, a new season of Lost/House/The IT Crowd/24/[any other TV show I quite like], I’ll write a post for the blog after I watch this.”
So why start a blog at all? Well, maybe it’s not always about the readership. Or, maybe it is – but it’s all about the quality and not the quantity. For an individual it might be that they want to write the information era’s equivalent of a diary – literally a web log (oooh, etymology!) – a personal place for them on the web with a readership of approximately one. Who would want to leave their personal diary sitting around in plain site (or sight – depending on how much you like a play-on-words that has to be explained in case people think you just can’t spell)? Probably the same people who are happy to share their personal life on facebook and flickr and twitter. The kind of people who don’t mind getting sacked over a youtube video provided it’s a really funny one. Or people who want the release of expressing their inner self with the protection of the pseudo-anonymity that the internet provides.
So why would a company want a blog? Well, for every new startup it’s definitely cool to have a blog where they bare all and talk about all the problems they are having with suppliers and quality control. To have a place where they can publish their financial results – “Hey, if we put them up on the internet maybe we can save ourselves the cost of filling!”. Or just to share the new adventure of starting out in business. For this new generation of highly transparent companies it’s probably absolutely essential to have this kind of blog and any startup that doesn’t have a blog should be considered abnormal and disfigured in some way! But for the more established company (those that were started before the internet even) it’s much more difficult to start a blog, right? For those constrained in what they can write by company policy and so much red tape it must by nigh on impossible to write anything. Well, if those constaints are real then maybe that’s true: nobody want’s to read a corporate blog full of standard marketing male bovine faeces. But many companies aren’t as constrained as they might feel that they are – they wouldn’t have grown to the size and statue which they have without doing something right “and maybe if we can push the boundaries again we can once more rise from the ashes and take back our crown!”
So what of this blog? What of this first blog post (which is approaching 900 words and some might say it hasn’t quite gotten to the point yet)? What is the raison d’être for ‘dynamic discourse’? Well, the name is no accident (although there were lots of other equally descriptive names already taken by domain squatters). This blog (among other things) will be about how to have a better blog. (Though probably not in the way that Copy Blogger, Blogging without a Blog and many others already do.) More than that, though. This blog will look at all forms of online communication, seeking out how companies can make their communication more awesome in a digital age.
Hopefully this first blog post has also set the tone for what will follow. This blog won’t necessarily be filled with short, easily digestible pithy one liners (for that, please follow on twitter @ddiscourse and if you like your pith with pictures, try this). Instead, what you’ll find here is a more in depth approach, a taking apart of our new forms of communicating in an attempt to rebuild them stronger, better, more awesome with maybe some split infinitives along the way. Hopefully it won’t be a disappointment to the few of you out there reading this soon after it’s been posted and or those who are reading this some years from now there will hopefully be a pile of further reading sitting waiting for you.