Four value propositions of blogs

This taxonomy of different kinds of blogs has helped me understand how my own two blogs fit into the blogosphere, and why certain blogs appeal to me more than others. It partly explains why some blogs or particular postings get more comments than others. I've previously considered how blogging is always creating value in one way or another. In this post, I explore how the value of blogs varies by initial premise or offer.

Distraction blogs:
The vast majority of blogs are of very little value for those of us looking for useful information. These bloggers are denigrated by journalists as "a million people in pajamas" because the blogs offer no apparent value to society. Business executives who are feeling pressured to "listen to their market" find these blog postings to be "mindless drivel". The value of these blogs is widely misunderstood. The difference they make is highly perishable, lasting for only a few moments. The archive is almost useless and rarely searched by visitors. The value is in the process of expressing oneself, getting a reaction from a friend or working out an unresolved issue by writing. The product is incidental to this very personal process. These blogs are launched and abandoned frivilously, contributing to the massive number that have not been updated in the last 3 months.

Archive blogs: Other blogs build up a very useful archive for visitors. The blog is a product with tangible value for those needing advice, solutions, alternative strategies and action plans for their troublesome situation. The categories are valuable and the expertise shared is exceptional. The search engine is used often to find particular information. The blogrolls link to similar experts contributing to this shared database of useful information. Typepad features a blog every day of the year that usually fits this category. The subscribers and visitors to an Archive blog have very practical interests. They prefer bloggers who are clearly knowledgeable, well read, and experienced in their field. The readers are also significantly qualified to make use of the expert information. These blogs are contributing to a gift economy.

Conversation blogs: These blogs join into numerous discussion threads in the abstract.The value is intangible. The conversation cannot be reviewed like in a chat transcript or threads on listservs that aggregate the contributors. It's possible to map the conversations (as Ray Sims has considered doing) by following the links in each post to other blogs, but the emphasis is not on the product or archive. The process of blogging is transformational for those bloggers that jump in, think deeply about each other's posts, and quote or link to other blogs. These bloggers come together like a community of practice or an informal learning experience. The archive of a blog is mostly refered to by it author to tie new posts into previous ones. The blogroll represents those blogs where that blogger considers leaving comments or quoting in her/his own blog. The comments left on one blog spawn new posts, better understandings and more inclusive viewpoints on several other blogs. Bloggers in these conversations can pose questions that get answers or generate controversies that provoke great insights. Metaphors abound as serious topics become playful and creative exploration as the theme jumps around from one blog to another. Participation feels like an unfolding story or a fascinating journey.

Democratic blogs: Some blogs go beyond the transformative effects of conversation to impact decisions, budgets, policies, voting or legislation. The value is systemic and political. The bloggers are citizens excercising their rights. The conversations get down to the business of making changes. The bloggers belong to the same organization, district or professional association. Bad products, businesses, journalists, politicians or policies -- are exposed and routed out of their previous reputation. Citizen participation changes the culture of the school, workplace, profession or physical community that blogs together. These bloggers move out into the long tail of the delivery system and democratize the processes. Previous centralized, aristocratic, top down administrations get disenfrancised by the active participation of the governed. Voices of dissent and visionary leadership disrupt the previous stances, agendas and goals. The transition to decentralized and participatory goverance increases the buy-in, follow through and widespread initiatives that bring about changes quickly. These blogs are doing democracy.

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  1. Thanks Tom.

    1) I find this a useful categorization.

    2) A potential fifth category is the "link blog" that primarily passes along "quick links" (as some call them) without any deep analysis. Or, perhaps "news blog" would be a more generous category label.

    I tried to get myself to say these fit within Archive; however, the level of original thought (low for link blog) and long term value (again low) seems to separate them into something else yet.

    Perhaps an analog to where by passing quality links along the authoring is "digg-ing"?

    That all said, I'm with mixed emotion with this potential additional Class. How many times do I wish to see that Cisco purchased WebEx or what Time Magazine did for person of the year?

    3) I need to re-read your series here, but I forget if you are classifying blogs or particular blog posts? In my own case I'm mostly (I hope and intend) Conversational, but have aspiration for Archive and temptation to Distraction or Link blog. So my own answer is that the categorization absolutely applies at the scale of Post and approximately applies at scale of Blog...with many hybrids out there...especially with the folks that slip in the Democratic interleaved in their otherwise Conversation or Archive blog. I wish these folks would just create a separate blog instance to give me easier filtering.

    Be well,

  2. Thanks for all your insights Ray! Your sense of how this taxonomy applies to posts and blogs matches my thinking exactly. I struggled with the "posts full of links" some as I developed this. I'm glad you raised the issue about a possible fifth class. I had started to consider transitional forms between the four types during the week, but I did not get clarity until just now. I'll add a new post to address the quick links issue and several other anomalies that need more categories. This means I will also edit the original post to eliminate some contradictions.

    This mutual provocation of ours today --certainly qualifies us "Conversation Bloggers". Thanks again Ray!


  3. Hello Ray,

    I'll make it short :
    - i'm to trackback your post,
    - because it's exactly my perception of the Blogosphere after 1+ year of daily reading,
    - hoping that my own blog don't belong to the first category ;-)

    Thanks again,

  4. Hello Tom,

    Just to tell you I made a confusion when typing a comment to your post " Four value propositions of blogs " : I called you ' Ray ' (because I had Ray's comment before my eyes - you know how it goes after a long day working ;-). Please edit my error before posting the comment !

    Thanks in advance,
    and congrats for your blog,

    Thanks Marc
    There's no way to edit your comment, so I posted your email here. Besides getting confused with Ray is a welcomed compliment.