I presume that this card is one of Jessica Hagy’s excellent and thought provoking index cards … but I could not find the link. Instead I found it on Age’s blog … and it made me realise that there is a close connection between blogging and drinking. You can simply change item C and label it "Why you blog".
I have been pondering the idea of authenticity and its link with writing, with branding and strategy and with the private self for some time. In fact, some of my earliest posts were on what it means to be authentic. For some reason it keeps coming back to a sense of writing voice or writing style … and this post from Lewis Green got me thinking on this topic some more — for it seems that we blogging folks go through a kind of metamorphosis the longer we write, engage, listen, discuss and collaborate with our readers and the wider online community. And it is this process of personal change that I find intriguing.
There have been many recent examples of these changes … and sometimes this change occurs through a conscious decision while at other times it is a change enforced by a series of events. My buddy, Sean Howard, has been doing some digging around this area for a while and seems to be making some progress. As you may know, the charming CK had these changes forced upon her as did I some time ago. And currently unfolding over at Marcus Brown’s blog is an amazing and searing, slow-cooked story of personal challenge and change.
No matter what the catalyst for this change is, the desire to share its story or to flee from it is powerful, and it takes great strength and courage to do both — for of course, one can never ESCAPE from one’s own story. The question is only one of TELLING.
In many ways, this process reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — but with a twist. On the base level there are PHYSIOLOGICAL needs for blogging (or for any kind of writing). We need a computer or a pen and paper. On the next level rather than safety, there is a need for time to THINK, create and write. Up from there is COMMUNITY, a sense of belonging and of our place within a group. REPUTATION is the point at which the "higher needs" begin to be addressed — with a focus on leadership and an emerging sense of values. The pinnacle in this model is a form of actualisation based on ETHICS.
At every transition point, a change in VOICE occurs because there is a corresponding change in the writer. And at the higher levels of the pyramid, the separation between what we say and what we do in the world evaporates. Gradually, from behind the mask, the real person/writer appears in full view.
Of course, the interesting thing about this is … that the process never ends. No matter where you are there is always room for more growth.
In a true activation of this article’s premise, I was reading through some Twitter messages for the first time in a long time and found this one from KG. Here I was stepping through the process that Clive Thompson was talking about — re-extending my virtual limbs after an absence. And where did I find myself? In a shared space of old friends …
There was Drew McLellan welcoming me back. Scott Monty was asking about Spock invites. Ariel Waldman was marvelling at her life as a quasi-sex-blogger. David Armano was being "supervenient".
Why is this all important? Why should anyone care? As Clive says, "because it’s experiential" … it fulfils the desire to connect but in a completely mediated way. It means you can reach out without effort. It provides you a space to play … not EXACTLY private but certainly within earshot of others. You don’t need to be geographically close, but you can still feel part of a community. A group.
It doesn’t take a sixth sense to figure out that this sense of belonging is important.
Marcus Brown is doing it again. The ongoing marketing/self/artistic experiment that is It Could Get Worse has taken yet another turn.
If you feel up to following the exploration of identity that Marcus is about to unleash, start here. But be warned … you may find the looking glass looking back at you.
There are lots of reasons for writing blogs. In fact, one of the most interesting memes (for me) was this one, which asked us all “why blog”. But some people blog for fame … and Divya has started a competition for emerging bloggers to help them gain a toe-hold in the vast, amorphous blogosphere. This is particularly interesting and timely, with Drew McLellan asking for help to build a blogging toolbox. This is where Divya’s blog comes in handy as she has plenty of tips for new bloggers as well as explanations for why some things work and others do not (I particularly liked this explanation of Google).
But back to the competition … there are two parts to the contest — for blogs and for bloggers (you can check out the contest rules here). There is some big money available, and you can see the rankings live. And who is on the selection jury? None other than Mike Sansone, the blog coach extraordinaire. Could prove to be interesting.
It is always nice to be recognised for your hardwork — especially when that recongition comes from your peers. And I have been nominated NOT for one of the Lions from Cannes, but for something more compelling.
Both Lewis Green and Drew McLellan have nominated me as someone who makes them think. Now, coming from two people that I have great respect for — especially for their intelligence, humour and abundant generosity — really makes this a nomination to be proud of.
So, now the deal is … I have to nominate five other writers who make ME think. And following back through Drew’s post to David Reich, CK, Cam Beck, Ariel Waldman and Mark Goren, there are quite a few already nominated.
But there are many excellent writers who don’t seem (as yet) to have been nominated, or at least, have not yet posted on their nomination. So my nominations are:
Paul McEnany of HeeHaw Marketing. While known for his off-the-cuff brilliance and no-holds-barred cussing, he combines great writing, energy, storytelling and even images (from time to time). And for him "badass" is a natural turn of phrase.
Mack Collier because he single handedly does more to stimulate and energise this community of marketing bloggers than anyone else I know. Mack has a particular knack of seeing a topic and bringing new vision to it — I often think "he has done it again".
Sean Howard from Craphammer also gets a nomination because he consistently takes a strategic position and tries to figure out the challenges for the rest of us. He willingly shares these great ideas with us all (in the hope that we can contribute), but many times, again, I find myself wishing I had borrowed his brain for a while. Oh, and he is a top shelf editor of our EatSleepBlog escapades (another coming soon).
Katie Chatfield of GetShouty is also nominated because she is, quite frankly, one of the best creative thinkers around.
Roger von Oech is my final nomination (though I could go on). Not only does he make you think, he constantly surprises you in the way that he draws ideas together. If you ever need a whack on the side of the head, then Roger is your man.
One of my favourite things is finding a comment that is much more interesting than the original post. This great response from Charles Frith to my article on engagement even came with a video! Charles extends the idea of "engagement", suggesting lust, promiscuity, etc … I love the idea of brand lust, brand infidelity, brand obsession — or even brand stalking. And I particularly like the ad promoting the "slag of all snacks" (as Charles explains, "A slag is English vernacular for a woman of ill repute. Professional or not").
Oh, and now I think of it, I will have to return to that idea of "brand stalking". Could be something in it.
I love the feeling I get when a long dormant part of my brain is reactivated. It energises me. It feels like the intellectual equivalent of an endorphin rush.
The other night I heard a great quote "The Spectacle is Everywhere" — and it comes from Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. When I first read this during my university days I became a little obsessed with the situationists and a radical, very French, way of thinking — but what I found particularly liberating was the poetic use of language within a more formal "discourse". And the more I thought on this, the more it made me reconsider social media and what we, perhaps lazily, call "engagement".
So now I am toying with the concept that "engagement" is just not good enough. Not for brands. Not for marketers. Not for consumers. Come join the discussion around this MarketingProfs article.