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« Reflections on A Year of University Teaching | Main | Thinking Back 5 Years: Global PR Blog Week »

May 14, 2009


John Cass

Great post Elizabeth. You continue to push the envelope with your thinking and research.

Several thoughts come to mind after reading your post:

New Journalism.

New Journalism is about combining the objective approach of news reporting with the subjective approach of fictional writing. Tom Wolfe and other writers pushed the envelope when it came to journalism. I was thinking that blogging in many circumstances is new journalism in action.

Here's an example of a blog that I think really illustrates new journalism at work. Dr. Greiver is a doctor who writes her blog about her practice implementing an electronic medical record system.

Many bloggers attempt to be objective but also express their opinion, except with blogging instead of the journalist reflecting and reporting on subjects. The subject and writer are one and the same.

I'd suggest many New Journalism writers wrote a lot of noise. There writing style from the 50's and 60's have greatly influenced future generations of writers.

Do you think I am accurate in characterizing some blogs as new journalism?

Again Twitter may be an extension of the new Journalism writing style in social media, don’t look at the individual tweets but the sum of the whole.

PR Context.

It makes sense to put your product in the context of the community; however, by doing just that, don't you add and alter the conversation?

Look at Dell, they engaged consumers about customer service, and over an 18 month period, through structural changes, and social media, they turned 49% negative sentiment into 22%. Isn't that your poster child on changing the context by following the context of a conversation and adding to it. In Dell's case they contacted everyone who spoke, or the majority.


Writing style builds trust, though companies may chose to ask their employees to avoid using personalization when using social media.

Check out several case studies from the Business Blogging Success study I conducted with Dr. Walter Carl.


I've posted a note on noise at that connects with a group of Berlin architects/designers who are reading Parasite. One of the questions: Is noise a prerequisite for signal/meaning? If so, then noise becomes the soil from which meaning emerges. Perhaps collectivities of one kind or another are prerequisite conditions for more singular and notable efforts - genius arising from the much more common and numerous 'average' people.

Thanks for the post.

How great to read this post. I have long been of the belief that we analyse social media the wrong way - using the processes we used to assess traditional mass media, instead of developing an approach that recognises what the social media revolution is all about.

As a result we pay insufficient attention to noise and nonsense, when this is actually the foundation that social media rests upon. Our definition of noise has been shaped by the requirements of traditional media to focus on content of mass appeal. We assume that there is no room within anything that is 'published' for information that is only of interest for a very small group of people - something I call the concept of 'The Sanctity of Publication' However, social media is all about individual relevancy - i.e. what you say in it, or what you select from it, is never noise to you - it just appears as such to others.

Your points about the center and context are spot on - it is these ever shifting, intangible vectors that determine influence in social media. To these I would add the concept of connectivity - because the process of connection is what turns individual pieces of noise or nonsene into collective pieces of intelligence. As I always say - one of the key shifts that social media is introducing is the shift of influence from place (newspaper, website) to space (conversation, twitter tag). Acts of observation are replacing acts of publication. This sits alongside the other shift - which is the shift of trust from institutions to processes. And all of this is a (relatively) predictable outcome of the fact that at its heart, the social media revolution is all about the separation of information from a means of distribution. We forget just how much our notions of content and influence have been shaped by the requirement for information to be linked to a particular means of distrubution. Information has now been freed and this is creating new forms and structures that are not distribution dependent.

Anyway - it frustates me at the lack of social media experts who really seem to have gained an insight into the fundamentals that lie at the heart of the social media revolution - so it is good to find someone who is on the case.

For more on this:

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