What is this? Thinking about the social web and company websites

As you read this do you consider that you’re reading a blog or simply visiting a website? That’s not a trick question.

I ask the question because after a small spat last week I decided to start contemplating [read: over-thinking] what it means to live in public, to air one’s dirty laundry as it were.. After all, an early definition of a blog, a.k.a. the weblog, was a personal diary, somewhere to digitally record all the minutiae of your daily activities, providing an easy way to share them online for everyone to read. Or not. North.com is built on the Wordpress platform, technically a blogging platform, yet I don't consider it as simply a blog. This is how Wordpress describes the platform - A semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. I can live with that. Although I am currently the most prolific contributor of posts, I would encourage readers to consider this a company web site. And because the social web is never static - in fact, it’s extremely malleable - this is a place where we at North are happy to share the sharing.

The idea behind the North.com site refresh in April was to open up access - not only to our thinking but also our “making” - and to allow for two-way communication; company sites too often just push messages outwards, we didn’t think that was too smart. One aspect of my job is to try and imagine who our readers are and then provide interesting content for those readers. That content is provided in different ways. It might be essays but it's not Op-Ed. I try to ensure that it is not a silo, for e.g., not just about the industry we work in. I occasionally feature our clients when they have good news and when they may have problems.

Being transparent comes with risk – but life would be dull without a little risk as one of our clients discovered. Risk is something we take seriously at North. It's not hyperbole to say that it is built into the company's DNA. That's one of the reasons why we don't moderate the comments left on the site. [Feel free to disagree - you know where.]

At the end of the day I am simply trying to provide a filter with my P.O.V. inserted. Just as the New York Times turns to the AP or Reuters for some of its news stories, providing a filter for its readers, I try, on a much smaller scale of course, to filter out stories that I believe are compelling and of interest enough to our readers. Of course one can easily set up a firehose of RSS feeds to find news and updates within certain silos, I just hope that my selections are of use to our readers while saving them the time and energy of digging them up for themselves.

By the way here’s the internet by the numbers, it’s full of lolcats and unicorns and it’s scary big… and yet, to paraphrase - “all our internetz are still belong to us..” The fascinating, ever-evolving social web is built on sharing, linking, liking, filtering, communicating, posting and so on..

Thanks for reading this far.

Since 4/10/10 I have published 131 posts [including this one,] and of those, using the method described above, I count 39 non-originals, 55 50/50 and 36 original posts. [Two original posts were also provided by North's Mark Ray and Remi Murfitt.]

Those numbers are from a rough and inexact study of my entire North posts broken into 3 categories:

Non-original – where I simply share, what I believe, is interesting stuff our readers would like. Often in and out of context, where context loosely = art, design, brand, social media, technology
Example - Is social media a fad?
50/50 – same as above, but with at least one paragraph from me and extra links that take you to similar stories, or to web sites of thought leaders in the discipline that’s being discussed in the original post.. [Are you keeping up?]
Example - Anthropology and online brand communities
Original – stuff that Dave says..
Example - Facebook and your privacy [Part 1]

I can tell you’re all really thrilled..

It’s the social web, please cut, paste and share..

[Update] Paul Krugman has a good idea re comment length, whining and obscenity in his blog's comment area.