More blogging to come at URMC?

I was invited to an informal, coffee-cart conversation about blogging in a medical center.  A person in our organization wants to develop a group blog around the interest area of Community Health.

A few reflections on this conversation, which took place on Friday.

  1. We spent a fair amount of time on definitional ambiguities around the word "blog." I had never realized that the word can evoke lots of different images in people's minds. At different points, it morphed between meaning "anything RSS," "Web 2.0," "collaborative Internet", and "discussion board." That happens with any word (I say "chair" and think of this and you might think of this), but it is especially true of word describing emerging concepts.

  2. I became aware of how personal my blog is to me, and how much I resist efforts to legislate aspects of it. I didn't like ideas that entailed requiring people to commit to post once a week or something like that.  I'm sure corporate blogs do something like that, but for a blog that is about idea development, I think the frequency should match the idea generation and can't be forced.

  3. I had never thought before about how to get "buy-in" from people to blog. My recommendations to those involved in this project was that the only way to cultivate bloggers is to get people reading blogs first. Get them understanding RSS and some of the benefits to blogging (including in clinical or academic communities) from a reader's standpoint. I think it's hard to imagine why spending time writing posts would be useful to oneself or others until you've seen it in action.

  4. My other thought about "buy in" is that you have show people how any project that will require time and effort will promote their careers, not just promote a concept.  For faculty, it's about intellectual development.  You'd have to show and provide examples of how writing thoughts that are still under-development to a wide audience can be helpful.

  5. I found myself thinking a lot about (and mentioning to my colleagues in our discussion) the Merlin Mann's quote that I have referenced here before, in which he describes a blog as "only incidentally a publishing system...At its heart, your blog represents the evolving expression of your most passionately held ideas..."

  6. Web 2.0 is all the rage right now.  Articles like this one in InfoWorld talk about the growth of vendors who are trying to profit from this. There are a lot of ways leaders can go wrong when trying to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. These 23 steps for learning Web 2.0 have gotten a lot of attention lately. Seems like a thoughtful approach, perhaps a prerequisite "course" for anyone interested in how a particular institution might benefit from the new web.

  7. It's important to consider which tool is right for which purpose. Blogs are great for pushing content to interested audiences, wikis for collaboration on specific projects, etc. When is it best to use multiple individual blogs and when is it better (as I think they're going to try here) to have one blog with multiple contributors?  My personal preference as a consumer is for the individual blog because part of my interest is watching the creative process take shape in an individual over time.  But maybe that's just the clinician in me.

It was fun to be part of the discussion at this early stage.  I'm excited to see where the initiative goes.