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Hiawatha Bray: Corporate America Has Discovered the Blog

Dave Winer pointed out an article by Hiawatha Bray in The Boston Globe called Companies Get into the Weblog Act. This is an excellent article focusing on the evolution of the weblog concept from a hobby into a methodology that can be leveraged by serious businesses. Bray says:

An idea this useful can't be left to mere hobbyists. Companies have begun to recognize the potential power of what buffs like to call ''the blog-

osphere.'' Consider: Every business needs to know what its employees know. Companies are crammed with experts on various topics whose knowledge goes to waste -- because nobody knows what they know. Now give these workers an internal corporate blog, and encourage them to use it. Let them natter away on every topic that intrigues them. Harvest and index the results. You've mapped your workers' brains. With a few keystrokes, a manager can find out who's been blogging about skiing or bowling or restoring classic cars -- just the thing when you're trying to sell something to an avid collector of '64 Mustangs. The company's hidden experts will cheerfully reveal themselves, and the firm's institutional memory gets an upgrade.

The key to successfully harnessing this movement on an Intranet is to allow it to evolve from the ground up. Trying to implement it from the top down, a process known as knowledge management, has been a hot idea in some large companies for years. The problem with knowledge management is that it has never achieved the potential that its evangelists expected.

The weblog movement, on the other hand, began modestly and is growing by leaps and bounds. Blogs can be great sources of information within a company, or a great channel of communication to a company's customers. The key success factor, more often than not, appears to be focus.

Bray cites Rock Regan, CIO of the State of Connecticut, as someone who knows how to get value out of blogging in his organization, and quotes him in the article.

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