There is an easy answer:

  • this is
  • it’s a contraction of ‘web log’ (and so not an acronym)
  • its primary organisation is by date, almost with most recent material at the top of the page, with older stuff pushed down the main page and eventually into archive pages
  • often – but by no means always – it consists of relatively short entries added relatively frequently
  • often – but by no means always – there is extensive cross-referencing to sources and conversations elsewhere on the web

There is a mutating answer:

  • originally, they were a simple form of individual self-expression.  The overwhelming majority by number probably still are.
  • there then came group blogs – like minded people who contribute to a single blog.  Often done as a way of aggregating attention, and taking advantage of there being several authors to maintain a more frequent pattern of posting than individuals can manage
  • and then there came business groups – bloggers who formally or less formally represented their organisations, and who were (at least in part) creating an informal communication channel with the organisation
  • and, invisibly (by definition), there are internal blogs – which use the techniques of blogging but are addressed to a closed audience

There are more subtle and interesting answers:

  • the clear, unedited personal voice of a real human being
  • a means of conversation and interaction
  • a blog that is PR-sanitized, scrubbed for messages, spun, or otherwise adulterated by over-protective flackery can’t really be called a blog. We need to get it a new name. Maybe it should be called a “press release” – sure bears the same high stink of decay about it.

As it happens, those last three all come from someone I had never heard of until a few minutes ago when I was looking for something else I had half remembered.  But the post those lines come from is a good transition to the question of what a PSD blogging function ought to look like.

This is fundamentally about a conversation with ourselves.  Blogs by leaders will be one of the clearest possible statements of and about their leadership – potentially putting them in unmediated contact with a wide community.  Blogs purportedly by leaders but which actually are not will not survive.  That means it’s a real commitment – but not necessarily a huge one.

Blogs are almost inherently plural.  Better to pilot blogging than a single blog.  Culture and communications are not just top down.  We can play with different styles and different contributors in different combinations.  The successful ones will develop personalities, the others will fade away – and both those outcomes are fine.

There are plenty of examples of different styles (though only, of course, externally published ones).  It works for the Chief Executive of Sun Microsystems and the man in charge of Lotus Notes at IBM – a company where:

Behind the scenes, a small handful of technical innovators developed and deployed an internal blogging service that has grown in a period of just 18 months to just shy of 9,000 registered users spanning 65 countries, 3,097 individual blogs, 1,358 of which are considered active, with a total of 26,203 entries and comments — all of which has been put together strictly through word-of-mouth promotion. And it’s still just a pilot.

We ought to be able to make it work for us.

More – much more – in Naked Conversations – How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers (I haven’t read the book – but I did read quite a lot of the blog through which it was written…)

(All of which may read a bit oddly to some, because it is a response to something else. Of course if the something else were online, I could have linked to it…)