Hit The Road
I'd mentioned that talking to regular people about the potential of blogging is one of my favorite parts of my job, and that's probably reason enough to pause for an unapologetic plug.
We're doing a series of Six Apart Business Blogging Seminars all over the country. We'd done a number of these seminars earlier in the year, and got some very positive feedback, along with requests to include more cities. So we're doing exactly that, and teaming up with some experts to help us tell the story. When you show up, you get to meet folks like the Feedburner team, or D.L. Byron or Alison Byrne Fields, and I'll be attending each event as well.
As I mentioned on our company site, it's a good opportunity to reach both people who are unfamiliar with blogging, as well as those of us who love the medium but might not necessarily get to use it as part of our day jobs yet. So, great, we're telling people about blogs. But the truth is, we damn well should be doing this much to talk to people about business blogging. We've all seen that communicating using all the tools of social media can make people's lives better. The reality is, those benefits can apply just as much to one's professional life as to one's personal life.
More importantly, there's almost nobody else to do it. Most of the giant muti-billion-dollar internet companies see blogging (or other social media tools) as a tiny fraction of a percentage of their bottom line. That's not to question the passion, conviction, and talent of my counterparts on those teams: They're good people who do great work. But on an endless list of priorities, where does "explain blogging to regular people" fall? I'm not sure. Each company places some different significance on the importance of this medium, and the place I work is at one extreme of that continuum. For us, encouraging everyone to take advantage of social media is a fundamental necessity.
On the other end, a lot of passionate people don't have the resources or organization (it takes a number of people working their asses off to make these things happen) to actually go on the road. Hell, we'd love to do even more cities if we could. The bottom line is that reaching out to new audiences is a responsibility for all of us who have benefitted so much from the explosion in popularity of Web 2.0 or social media.
One of the reasons I've been thinking about this was in reading Ev's post about attending events.
...I don't go to a lot of conferences, because it's hard to justify the time. But one thing I always forget is that it's not just the content, and it's not just the schmoozing (which everyone says is the real reason to go), it's that you come away wanting to do better.
I'm inspired every time by the people we meet who start with the curiosity and drive to learn about a new medium, and leave with the basic tools to actually make something new part of their careers and work life. I find that, though we describe the events as "seminars" and I get to speak at them, I learn much more in these conversations than I ever teach to anybody else. An average event is more of a dialogue than simply a seminar. In the real world outside of Silicon Valley, people are busy solving problems that we often overlook, trivialize, or deliberately ignore. It's instructive to be immersed in a culture outside of the one where we create new technologies.
So, if you're in Washington, D.C. next week, or in Detroit, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, or Miami in the weeks to come, I do hope you'll register for the seminars and join us. Also, I'm tentatively thinking of organizing a bloggers' dinner in each of the cities if I'm able, so if you're interested, let me know and we can start to arrange those as well.