Blogs: The Medium Of Choice Of College Campuses
Just as we figure out e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging, there’s a newer, more advanced form of communication. This is particularly true with online venues for personal expression, more popular than ever among college communities where everyone is computer-savvy.
One of the hottest online information trends to hit college campuses is the blog. Short for “Web logs,” these personal, real-time posts range from the mundane “What I did today,” to the latest on fraternities, trends and parties.
Critics worry that blogs – which, unlike traditional forms of media are largely unedited – often mislead or misinform readers with the information contained in the posts. Supporters, however, argue that some blogs – such as those from soldiers who are or were in Operation Iraqi Freedom – provide uncensored outlets for firsthand experience that readers might not otherwise be able to obtain.
Some students use their blogs as virtual filing cabinets, finding it useful to access their blogged notes and bookmarked Web sites from any computer. Professors are also jumping on the bandwagon, posting assignments, announcements and summaries of lessons, as well as articles relevant to their courses.
As more and more college students are blogging, politicians are using the venues to get the attention – and support – of young voters. During the 2004 pre-election hoopla, for example, the campaign to reelect President Bush had its own blog site for supporters to post letters. Many letters were sent to newspapers by the Web site staff, merging the online and offline media.
Advertisers are also using blogs to reach younger consumers. In 2003, to promote its new flavored milk drink, Raging Cow, Dr. Pepper/Seven Up gave free samples to bloggers, encouraging them to spread the word about the product. According to the company’s online marketing agency, Richards Interactive, the approach was a big success.*
Many large corporations have launched their own blogs and monitor other blogs. Companies like Microsoft and General Motors have created blogs to provide information on their products, and monitor other blogs to get feedback on their products, and sometimes, their employees. (Employees have been fired for complaining about their employers on blogs; once you put something out on a blog, you can’t take it back!)
So how exactly does one create a blog? Perhaps the easiest way is to use the software incorporated into Google’s homepage toolbar. The free program allows anyone – even novices – to create a simple blog. Users choose from a number of templates, create a profile, and can be typing up their latest and greatest journal entry within minutes.
If you’re already a blogging fan, you might be ready for the group content version: wikis. This collaborative software allows readers to comment on a subject, add content and edit one another’s work. Taken from the Hawaiian word for “quick,” the wiki is essentially an online database that doesn’t require html or programming knowledge. The downside is that previous information can be deleted by anyone since the forums aren’t protected. On second thought, that could be a good thing. Just think of all the bad blogs you WISHED you could delete.
June 2004 interview on BusinessBlogConsulting.com