Blogging is like flocking

Of course I feel ashamed that it’s been a while since I blogged. Blogging is like flocking. If you’re not blogging you’re not part of the flock. As a famous bass player once said, “Ducks flock. Geese flock. You need to flock.”

OK, he wasn’t famous, but you get the point. It’s not so much the content of the blog, it’s the fact of the blogging that matters. Even when the story is very much an individual’s – like Bob Harvey’s marvellous Christmas in Kerala – the effect of the blogging, the link, if you like, between blogger and bloggee (I just made up that word), is to generate a sense of connection that is, like the spontaneous choreography of flocking birds, somewhat mysterious.

Nearly ten years ago Debbie Weil’s The Corporate Blogging Book inspired me to try and persuade my then boss to blog. “Blog or be blogged,” Weil warned, pointing out that bosses could shape what was said about their company even if they couldn’t control it. My then boss was reluctant, but said it was fine for her comms director (me) to blog. I didn’t, because I felt that I couldn’t shape what was said in the way Weil meant. With hindsight, maybe I should have.

Weil’s book was published before Twitter appeared, and since then the shape-or-control debate has continued to grow, partly from the corporate perspective but also – and perhaps more significantly – from a wider ethical perspective. There’s an interesting discussion about this in the comments on Stuart Bruce’s recent post about the respective ethical reputations of PR and journalism.

It may be useful to compare that discussion with the recently published views of John Lloyd and Laura Toogood, who believe that with the advent of social media PR has become ‘master’ over journalism. The debate will continue, as it has for thousands of years, precisely because it is about ethics, about formalising our values in ways that can be reliably applied in an ever-unreliable world.

So it turns out that I didn’t invent ‘bloggee’. North Shore Vancouverite Jessica Blumel used the term nearly three years ago. Just part of the flock I guess.

Flocking Auklets

Flocking Auklets. Source: Wikimedia


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