Thursday, August 28, 2008

SJSU President's Blog

Whitmore's Lame Blog

Why am I calling Whitmore's Blog Lame?

In my opinion:

Companies Don't Blog - People Do
As Mike Sansone said, "One of the challenges a company faces when launching a blog, is making the leap from corporate-speak marketing lingo to a more personable message." Whitmore's so-called "blog" fall's far short of that goal. It is pure corporate-speak marketing lingo and is virtually devoid of a personable message. You can hardly even call it Whitmore's Blog as it is obviously not written by Jon Whitmore. Some flack in marketing is obviously writing this and is throwing in selected quotes from Whitmore. That, my friends, is pure corporate-speak marketing lingo, otherwise known as bull shit.

Is Whitmore's Blog even a blog?
The minimum requirement for a web site to be a blog is that it have content, and that it be sorted in reverse chronological order. But, I expect more than that from the president of a university claiming to power Silicon Valley. To quote Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, "I believe the term “blog” means more than an online journal. I believe a blog is a conversation. People go to blogs to read AND write, not just consume. We’ve allowed comments here on TechCrunch since it started. At times, user comments can be painful to deal with. But they also keep the writer honest, and make the content vastly more interesting."

Here is a short shopping list of what I expect from a genuine blog from the president of my university:

Permalinks (See UPDATE 2)
Other bloggers should be able to link to posts in Whitmore's blog. As it is now, they can't.
Comments (See UPDATE 2)
Whitmore should allow his readers to post thoughtful comments on what he has to say. Yes, comment moderation is okay to prevent comment spam.
An RSS Feed (See UPDATE 1)
Hello, as SJSU alum Robert Scoble said, "if you do a marketing site and you don't have an RSS feed today you should be fired." He went on to say, "Saying that RSS is only for geeks today is like saying in 1998 that the Web was only for geeks." One more thing, Scoble said that in 2005. In my opinion this applies much more to blogs. But, it is hard to do an RSS feed without permalinks.
A personal voice
This brings us back to "Companies Don't Blog - People Do." When I heard our new president was planning to do a blog I got excited. I thought, wow, the president of my university that is located at the core of Silicon Valley is really going to embrace transparency, embrace Web 2.0 and is going to enter the conversation. I did not expect PR bull shit.

But, I have found a real use for Whitmore's blog.
I use it in my new media class as an example, an example of what not to do with a blog. In my opinion Whitmore's so-called "blog" is worse for SJSU than no blog at all. It makes us all look lame. Where should my university start if they really want to do this right? I suggest starting here, with Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto.

UPDATE 1, Mon Sep 1 16:11:43 PDT 2008: As of this time; Whitmore's blog does now appear to have an RSS feed!
(That must have been a lot of fun to make without permalinks for the posts? It possibly was a very manual process of hacking XML code)

UPDATE 2, Tue Sep 2 06:25:59 PDT 2008: The blog appears to have been done in what we call WEBCMS7, this is a content management system (CMS) we use to provide accessible Web page content to folks with disabilities on SJSU Web sites. It is a decent tool for that, but WEBCMS7 is not (normally) a blogging tool. I do not know of any way to provide permalinks to or commenting on a page in WEBCMS7. That brings up another question, is there an accessible blogging tool? I do not know the answer to that one.

Here is more information about accessible blogging tools, IMHO we need this at SJSU.

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