We’ve got a lot of different audiences for our blogging tools at Six Apart, and Movable Type might have the broadest of them all — it bridges everything from individual hackers running MT on their laptops to giant corporations running thousands of blogs on their intranets.
To the original blogging community that we come from, though, we get a lot of weird looks when we talk about how exciting it is to work on business and enterprise blogging. There are a lot of variations on the question, but basically the thing people want to know is, “Why do you guys care about business blogs so much?”
- Blogs are a better tool for the job for a lot of business communications.
- Using blogs at work will help people discover uses for blogs in the rest of their lives.
- Nobody else can do it, and we can’t afford to leave it up to companies that don’t care about blogging.
The longer answer is, we’re immensely greedy monsters! No, no, that’s not right — the truth is a lot simpler: If it’s done right, making blogs work for businesses helps get more people blogging (that’s our mission, remember?), and it makes a day at work just a little bit more pleasant for a lot of people.
Using the tools they give you
Because while those of us who work on our own or for smaller companies can say “Well, I want to work on a Mac.” or “I’m only going to use Firefox.” or “I’m only going to use open source applications.” (and most of us at Six Apart fall into those camps), most non-technical people not only don’t have that option, they don’t care enough to find out how to do that stuff. You use what your boss tells you to, and even if you have other preferences, they’re not worth the fight when you’re just trying to get your job done.
So, instead of having to use some horrible “Groupware Knowledge Management Content Solution Server” thing, we think people should be able to use real blogs from a company that actually cares about blogging. And to do that, we have to make blogging tools feel “safe” to bosses and CIOs and CTOs and IT departments and other offices full of people whose job it is to say “no” to anything too new or unproven.
As a result, we get a little bit of skepticism on both sides. People who are zealots, who see blogging as some kind of religion, say it can’t possibly be “real” blogging if it’s integrated with enterprise software or portals or Microsoft Office or things like that. And conservative technologists who want to manage risk in a global business say it can’t possibly be a reliable business tool if it comes from a community of hackers and idealists and, well, troublemakers.
We think we’ve reached a good compromise if both sides are a little bit skeptical, but still willing to be pleasantly surprised.
Updating web pages is still pretty damn difficult
Outside of the blogosphere’s echo chamber, most people who want to publish a page on their intranet at work are still stuck asking a geek down the hall to make the changes, and then waiting 3 weeks for it to happen, and another 3 weeks for the fixes for the mistakes in the first update. Those people deserve a tool as powerful and simple as blogs, if only to help preserve their sanity. And just maybe, some of those people will start to think “Hey, there really is something interesting about blogging.”
For the normal people, the ones who kind of maybe have heard of blogs, but certainly haven’t tried them out yet themselves, discovering blogging as part of work will lead them to thinking about how blogs can change every part of their life. It’s just like the millions of people who first used a web browser as part of their job, or the people who had an email address at work or school before they ever signed up for Hotmail or Gmail.
An obligation to the community
There’s one final point that’s probably worth mentioning: We bring blogs to businesses of every size because nobody else can. That’s not bragging — it’s just a reflection of how new this medium (still!) is. The giant multi-billion-dollar technology companies don’t care about blogging, so they aren’t going to spend time and effort to educate people about it. (Especially if it comes at the expense of Groupware Knowledge Management Content Solution Server.)
And individuals who work with blogs don’t have the resources to educate companies on a global scale about the potential of blogging, or to build up a sales and support team to back up business customers, or to partner with the Oracles and HPs and Intels of the world. We’ve done all of these things, to show businesses that blogs are credible business tools.
It’s probably an obvious point, but making blogs business-ready isn’t sexy work. Almost no coders think “Man, I can’t wait to go home and hack on middleware integration this weekend!” But bringing blogging to a bigger audience, an audience that’s still skeptical of this medium, and unfamiliar with its potential, takes exactly that kind of hard, unsexy work. As a company founded by bloggers, that’s benefited so much from blogging, we frankly felt it was our responsibility to help as many other people and companies benefit as possible. So that’s why we do it. We might not always get geek cred from cynical, jaded bloggers for it, but there are a couple hundred million other people out there who might see the benefits. And that’s pretty fantastic.
The fact is, blogs are a better, cheaper tool for businesses to use for many types of communication. But they’re also still a young tool that most companies haven’t even gotten a moment’s thought from most businesses yet. We think our community can change that, and we hope this gives you a little bit better understanding of why it’s important that all of us succeed in the effort.