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The Blog Ahead: How Citizen-Generated Media Is Radically Tilting the Communications Balance Paperback – May 22, 2006
About the Author
R. Scott Hall, a direct marketing strategist and online business expert, is the founder of Online Mavericks and the Citizen Generated Media blog, and is based in New York, NY.
Online Mavericks helps entrepreneurs as well as established companies maximize their market presence, product/buyer focus and effectively blend both offline and online efforts. Often times its determined that companies are close, but just "don't know what they don't know" which keeps them from making significant business impact.
Prior to founding Online Mavericks, he began compiling his online experience at pioneering online information service provider CompuServe, and then onto Macmillan Digital Publishing. Scott then co-founded a multi-media platform search engine company, StreamSearch.com, in 1998. As a result, his collective strategic media marketing efforts and entrepreneurial experience in starting, funding and running technology companies has, and continues to provide excellent input, results and profits for the clients he serves.
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I'm not a geek. I don't get the Internet. But I am a reader, a writer and teacher by trade, and a blogger. I have enjoyed the advantages of the easy, open communication of the Internet. It's not overstating the matter to say the Internet has helped people make and remake themselves.
R. Scott Hall's new book The Blog Ahead (Morgan-James 2006) places the Internet as I experience it--as my private public library and party-line phone system--in the context of a communications revolution that is almost on a par with the Gutenberg printing press.
Instead of top-down communications, we have horizontal communications. Formerly, if I had a story to tell or sell, I had to go through the old-fashioned system of pitching the story to an editor, waiting for consideration and feedback, writing it, submitting it to the editor, and waiting for publication. That could take days. Whether or not my story received air time depended completely on the editor.
Now I'm the boss. I create, publish on a blog or post to some public forum, and reach an audience and receive feedback. The reach and effect of my work depends on the whims of the entire world, which means there's a lot of competition. If my product is garbage, there's a highly literate online community of thinkers who won't hesitate to let me know. If it has appeal, that audience will tell me that too.
This community has integrity by nature, according to Hall, so it's self-correcting. People want solid information up front and presented well. If they bump into something that doesn't meet expectations, prepare to hear about it.
This really brings an end to anonymity. It's not true that we're anonymous when we're online. That's a myth. Stat counters, guestbooks, and other forms of data collection programming track our activity all over the place. Call it an invasion of privacy or call it marketing, but you are never alone when you're online. So, if you enter the online world, be prepared to have something to say, say it well, and sign your name. Hall has no time for anonymity. If you can't accept feedback and you won't sign your name, you jeopardize the integrity of the online community. You won't be tolerated, either.
There is a survival-of-the-fittest element to all of this. We self-sort the good stuff from the junk. We survive based on the quality of our material and our drive to be heard. This is a revolution.
The book reads like a blog in some ways with its links to web sites that are leading the way in this new form of communication. Hall's anecdotes about the effects of blogging on political campaigns and corporate public relations--read, accountability to the public--are fascinating. Better yet are the stories about the role of ordinary people in breaking news stories because, well, they know what's going on.
I recently used some YouTube videos in a college English literature class lesson. I was making the point that even these videos are texts that affect our understanding of the world and therefore how we read and write. Specifically, I used two interviews between a minister and a banker who formerly lived in Lebanon. One student asked, "If this guy knows so much, how come he's not on TV?"
It was a beautiful moment. What about the integrity of your own thoughts based on your own experiences? Why are the less important than the big thoughts of the guy who happened to be walking by the bigger camera? Money still talks in the mind of so many of us. What a big idea, though, that we can talk to each other directly and maybe learn something.
Hall's book is a good read, and it's fun. It's even out-of-date in some places, even if it is a new publication. Its greatest value is in documenting the paradigm shift in communications and predicting trends in future communication. It will be fun to stick around and see if he's right.
R. Scott Hall, a direct marketing strategist and online business expert, is the founder of Online Mavericks and the Citizen Generated Media blog, and is based in New York, NY. Online Mavericks helps entrepreneurs as well as established companies maximize their market presence, product/buyer focus and effectively blend both offline and online efforts.
James M. "Jacksone" Watry Jr.