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Blogs of a Different Color

NEW YORK -- With corporations increasingly depending on blogs for internal and external communications to improve consumer relations, conferences like this week's BlogOn Social Media Summit 2005 continue to draw diverse crowds.

David Weinberger, who delivered a keynote this morning at the second annual blogging summit in front of fellow bloggers, advertising executives and corporate heads, said the evolution of blogs as a filtering system for what people know had changed both business and media.

"We are using the blogoshpere to filter the news," he said, referring to the way many people use tertiary sources to help absorb and analyze mainstream media reports. "The editorial function is the highest function in the journalism game."

Weinberger, a fellow at The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and longtime blog pundit, said publications such as the New York Times and the Boston Globe had allowed the highest level of editorial functions to "slip away" and, in turn, allowed the blogoshpere to absorb that function.

Calling the New York Times an "echo chamber" with a "tiny slice of opinion rolled up and thrown on your porch each day unwillingly to point outside itself even for an instance," he repeatedly pointed toward examples in which bloggers had created more avenues for dialogues, thereby allowing a freer flow of information.

"This is narcissism and it is the opposite of blogging," he said of the Times' inability to hear outside voices.

Much the same as bloggers are helping source and edit the media, consumers are editing and spreading information about corporate service and products, he said.

A poll of corporate marketing and communications professionals at the conference this week found that 55 percent of corporations are blogging, with 91.4 percent of those using them for internal communications and 96.6 percent for external outreach.

More than half had launched their blogs within the last year.

Although Weinberger had reserved some harsh criticisms for big business, and said blogging wasn't for every company, he did make the point it is important to take control of the information that is out there regarding each business service.

"In a sense, who cares about a company?" he said, referring to corporate blogs. "How can you write about values?"

Weinberger, who has said blogs are not only the revenge of customers on marketers and the revenge of couch potatoes on the media, said blogs are how knowledge has become social.

"Your customers know more about your products and services than you do," he said.