Monday, August 03, 2009

On Blogger’s Antipathy to Corporate-Speak

One interesting theme emerging from my literature review is the evolving etiquette and norms concerning the appropriate tone of voice for business blogging. There are many recurring lists exhorting bloggers to be honest, be yourself, be truthful, own up to your mistakes and such-like. This propagates a misconception that no companies ever communicated in these ways before business blogging arrived.

Dave Winer, one of the originators of blogging, is an anti-corporate iconoclast who believes blogs should only ever represent the unique voice of an individual (Israel et al 2006, page 59). His stance is indicative of the observed antipathy within the blogosphere to what is characterised as ‘corporate speak’.

Although prominent bloggers can draft, rewrite, parse and craft their words as obsessively as any author (or Masters researcher), many have an undisguised aversion to what they perceive as the inoffensive, committee-written, homogeneous language of much marketing communications. Particularly when it is used within the blogosphere.

These bloggers often self-identify with that idea of the ‘unique voice’. Le Meur relates this to blogging initially flourishing in cultures where people are “accustomed to expressing our thoughts as individuals out in the open” (Israel et al 2006, page 115). Silicon Valley software developers, engineers and technology entrepreneurs, or “religiously libertarian anarchists with ponytails” (The Economist 2003), brought a counter-cultural mindset with them which typified the early phases of blogging. Israel and Scoble also perpetuate this distinction between bloggers being ‘authentic voices’ in comparison with the majority of other corporate communications, which they denigrate as an “oxymoronic hybrid of cautious legalese seasoned with marketing hyperbole” (Israel et al 2006, page 14).

Any attempt to define one ‘true voice’ for blogging can only be an exercise in futility. Any more than saying that there is one correct way to use a telephone or to write a letter. Particularly any effort to establish a certain mode of blogging as ‘authentic’ based on the characteristics of the early adopters only highlights the cultural, social and even geographic characteristics of the first cadre of bloggers.