Bloggers gain prominence

Governments are reaching out to engage bloggers, as they have come to realise that bloggers do wield real influence via their online presence and discussions! One agnecy invited bloggers to blog about their campaigns to ‘create an online buzz about a government-sponsored commercial on the family’. 

This happened two months ago at a special session organised by global public relations firm Ogilvy. The commercial depicting a single father struggling to raise his daughter eventually aired on June 21 — with the buzz the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) had hoped for.

The session allowed the bloggers to understand ‘how and why the commercial was made’ and the bloggers’ ‘heartfelt’ reactions online gave ‘policymakers and implementers a greater feel of how people really see’ the initiatives. 

Of course , it could work the other way, in that bloggers could have written negative feedback on it; but even then, that would have helped policy makers to modify the content. It’s important that such sessions have no strings attached, and that bloggers are free to write what they want, or not at all. Otherwise, the whole process could be seen as a farce, and both policy makers and bloggers would lose credibility.

The National Heritage Board is yet another agency who has been actively engaging bloggers. They have been hosting museum tours for bloggers and held a session recently for 40 bloggers at the Asian Civilisations Museum. In what it believes is a first among agencies here, the board is recruiting for an in-house “social media marketing” position, to cultivate relationships with active bloggers. Mr Walter Lim, its director of corporate communications and industry promotion said

As social media gains prominence, we do have a very high proportion of people, especially teens, who spend time online. It is critical that organisations look at how we can leverage on this growth.

Bloggers now appear to function as a “public relations arm” and the Government is recognising them as an important medium to reach the public, said Dr Linda Perry, a senior visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore’s department of Communications and New Media.

It’s a win-win situation. ‘For bloggers, what this all eventually might mean is a greater role in policy…instead of just blogging about what they see the Government doing’, they get to become active participants. 

And we don’t call this age of Web 2.0 the participation age for nothing.

Of course, all these beg the question of accreditation for bloggers.

Could such participation go a step further to include news reporting? Last month, the Malaysian Government issued press passes to about 10 online news sites such as Malaysiakini, but stopped short of handing them out to bloggers since blogs are often personal in nature. Press passes would allow bloggers access to Government briefings or press conferences, for example, and the access to speak to officials at these events. Said editor of The Online Citizen Choo Zheng Xi: “It’s better to bring them in and allow them to see things from the government point of view, rather than lock them out and they criticise without understanding.” … But one concern among commentators is credibility and accuracy – bloggers, after all, would largely not have journalistic training and their writing would not be subject to the editing process of the traditional media.

Associate Professor Ang Peng Hwa of Nanyang Technological University’s communications programme: “Unless they are prepared to have themselves held accountable (for their writing), I don’t see how bloggers can equate themselves with professional media.”

Well, what do you think? Do you think that bloggers being accepted as reporters could happen now or in the near future?  Do you think society is ready to accept the views of bloggers as being legitimate ones?

Read on for information on political videos and blogs and new rules for politics in cyberspace.

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Blogging on the go

It seems that the 2-second generation is taking over! Micro-blogging seems all the rage now, with more people using Internet-enabled cellphones to blog while they are on the go, something also known as moblogging (mobile blogging).

I just read the other day about how Twitter is getting more and more popular, and it is now another platform that bloggers need to use to keep their readers updated on what they have posted.

There’s a Twitter guide that you could read to help you get started. It’s really about giving your friends in your Twitter network live updates of what you are doing in as few words as possible!

In a jump-on-the-bandwagon kind of way, I got myself a Twitter account, so don’t be surprised if a you get a little twitter from me!

Blogging Hazards

A few days ago, I blogged about how blogging could be bad for your health. In a way, I have come to realise how true some of the health risks mentioned about blogging are.

On a few occasions recently, I have been online for a few hours straight, blogging, Facebooking, MySpacing, Youtubing and all, and you know when you are online, some times the time just flies by! And sometimes when that happens, I don’t realise that I’ve been stuck in the same position, and you guessed it, major cramps and backache!

And I’m sure that doesn’t even come close to what professional bloggers experience, esp the two bloggers, Russell Shaw and Marc Orchant, who died of heart attacks.

There’s good reason for bloggers to take note of blogging hazards and take care.

And that reminds me, time for a vision break and the laptop is starting to cramp my thighs!

Facebook, Social Networking and the Duo Core Generation

With so much said and done about social networking sites, there’s bound to be uses and abuses of them.

Indeed, the use of social networking in the workplace is regarded as being controversial, with many having their say and questions about it. You can read some of the views at: Kit Kai’s Tech Blog; Web 2.0 and its impact on 21st Century; Scaling the Social Web, and more.

Young people tend to use social networking sites to keep in touch with their friends and enlarge their social circles. Some use it as a way to suss out potential mates, check out the competition, entertain their friends, and themselves, etc.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, what’s making employers and companies fret is that many of the employees are spending too much time working on their Facebook profiles, checking out how many people have invited them to be friends, or throwing sheep at each other!

According to a Straits Times article entitled “We’re (net)working”, $390 million is lost a day due to loss of productivity caused by cyber-loafing. You say network, I say notwork? While employees may be tapping away at their keyboards, they may not be engaging in any productive office work. They say that employees are getting distracted by MSN messages and pop-ups, etc.

This has actually led to some companies banning and blocking the use of such social networking sites.

Not only are companies concerned about the loss of productivity, they are also concerned that certain company trade secrets and practices may be knowingly or unknowingly revealed to outsiders. This is pretty much like the concern with employees blogging about work.

But is this the way to go? Perhaps companies need to know that they are dealing with a new breed of digital natives and going online to blog and network is part and parcel of their lives. And I have a new term for the new generation of digital natives. It’s “Duo Core generation” with duo core brains which seem to allow digital natives to process separate tasks independently.

Perhaps instead of trying to beat them, some companies have tried to join them. One example is IBM.  IBM warms to social networking and has started using IBM’s Lotus Connections which allows the whole company to engage and network. IBM staff write blogs and keep wikis and make use of social networking software to keep in the loop, thus creating a sense of one giant community.

Some other uses for Web 2.0 technologies in the workplace could be corporate wikis where the collective information and intelligence of staff could be stored and referenced, as well as company blogs that could clue newcomers in on company FAQs and the company culture and the like. Project blogs and wikis could be another collaborative space for working on team projects. It depends on the creativity of the company as well. Perhaps staff could suggest more ways that companies could use such Web 2.0 technologies more effectively in the workplace.

If you wish to read up on more ideas and/or contribute your ideas, there’s a useful site that let’s you do just that: http://www.blog4biz.sg/index.htm. Of course, you care also most welcome to comment on Blogscapes!