Context and language is everything

[Originally posted on “MWE Social Media” on 8th February, 2009]

Some colleagues of mine who keep an eye on what I’m up to on twitter, observed that through ‘Lofty Thoughts‘ I had announced the appearance of CardiffBlogs. They made some observations on the use of a corporate blogging platform, some of which I responded to. Nicky Morland from Anglia Ruskin University made the astute comment that the variety of socialmedia (or social networking) tools could be confusing to users – something I’d already hinted at in an earlier posting on this blog. I offered to write another post detailing my ideas on the subject. This is it.

It is a subject I’ve blogged on several times on my personal blog ‘Just thoughts …‘, and I believe it’s one of the most important areas that potential bloggers should be conscious of. In several posts I developed my thoughts, and if you’ll excuse me, I’ll re-iterate them here.

The first and probably most important consideration is whether socialmedia is for you. In the case of blogging, you have to consider what you want a blog for, and having decided that it’s something you want to do, for whatever reason, you then need to choose the most appropriate hosting for the blog – corporate or commercial platform, and whether you want to keep it private or make it public. In the post ‘Do I blog … or do I not?‘, I try and address that issue and suggest that this decision is of considerable importance because the context then directs the style of writing, the language that you use and the type of message that you communicate. For instance, on my private personal blog, which is restricted to my family alone, I’ve just recorded the number and types of birds in the garden and the state of our goldfish in the pond! This is of no interest to the world at large I suspect, but as a record, or journal entry, for me (and to assist my abysmal memory) and for the family as almost a shared letter – it may have some value. On my personal blog, I’ve just posted some observations on leadership that I recorded from a UCISA Directors’ Forum I had attended. I’ve already referred to my personal professional blog, and over time I’ll use this to record events, observations about Information Services (INSRV), the university and my inter-actions with other colleagues in other universities that might be of interest to colleagues both inside and outside INSRV and Cardiff University. It’ll essentially be a record of my work for INSRV.

For institutions, they need to make a call as to whether they decide to host the corporate blog themselves, or not. In ‘where do you blog‘, I discussed some of the issues that need to be considered by an organisation before they decide to host their own blogging platform. Brian Kelly makes some interesting comments on the subject as well.

The third issue is the connection between the author and their credibility; the authority of their pronouncements. The Web 2.0 world has created an environment where everyone is potentially an author and publisher. What I write on my personal blog is just that – personal; it doesn’t pretend to be the view of an Assistant Director of Information Services, and my references to INSRV or Cardiff are tangential and very occasional. So therefore the issue of Identity and Credibility is of interest because essentially in social networking you gain credibility from the people that look at, or comment upon, your blog posts, follow you on twitter, or whatever.By your followers – you are known.

Finally, in another post I comment upon the ephemeral nature of socialmedia environments. If you’ve got something important to say – be very aware that socialmedia is not the place to write it for posterity. Also the choice of socialmedia is important and is intrinsically linked to the type of message that you want to promulgate. Surrounded by choice, the toolset you use for the message you want to convey, must be chosen with considerable care.


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