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Magazines > Information Today > January 2004
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Information Today
Vol. 21 No. 1 — January 2004
Opinion
Reading from the Bottom Up
by Dick Kaser

Content management guru Bob Boiko, speaking at the London Online Information meeting in December, urged those who are developing enterprise portals and intranets to note that the audiences for their services expect information to be in the form of publications. They will evaluate the information services the portal provides based on their expectations developed from using other media, such as books, newspapers, and TV shows.

As I instantaneously published Boiko's comment on our Live from London blog, I immediately identified with his point and made a connection with the project we were in the midst of doing.

As a publishing experiment, my loyal editors and I were attempting something we had never done before. We were using blogging technology to immediately publish our thoughts to the Web. But did we produce a "publication"? First a little background.

Though blogs (aka, Web logs) are often hailed as a new publishing medium, I don't see it that way. Actually, it's the Web that's still the new medium. Blogging software, such as blogger.com, which we were using as our publishing platform, is just a basic content management system that facilitates immediate publication on the Web. It's a nifty tool, but it's not a new medium.

If there's anything really new here, it would have to be the format of the messages that bloggers publish, that thing which literary critics might call the form of expression. What many bloggers do with their message is very similar to what they do with e-mail. They jot down a brief thought, connect it to a link, or attach something. They end up with a stream of consciousness that isn't really meant to be read sequentially like, say, a book.

As reporters, writers, and editors for newspapers and magazines, the Information Today, Inc. staff wrote some messages that could stand on their own. But we ended up with something that as a whole looks much more like something that ought to be read from beginning to end. Unfortunately, to start at the beginning of a blog, you have to scroll down to the bottom and read backwards. If producing a "publication," as Boiko says, is the objective of good e-stuff, reading from the bottom up strikes me as a little strange.

At any rate, I think we ended up publishing something that looks more like a publication than a "traditional" blog. And I guess that's why I related to Boiko's point about audiences expecting publications. He said something that, as a traditional writer and editor, I liked hearing.

Whether or not what we did with our Live from London blog is what he meant is something that deserves further consideration. I invite you to see the result of our experiment at http://www.infotodayblog.com.

 


Dick Kaser is Information Today, Inc.'s vice president of content. His e-mail address is kaser@infotoday.com
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