Mike Arrington’s post on TechCrunch this morning about bloggers and the capital around them was uncanny, as I spent yesterday pondering the ins and outs of blogging in the current climate. A bit of a ramble and frankly, lacking introspection, his post was nonetheless an interesting perspective on the blogging market and its potential future. It’s prompted me to lay bare some concerns and questions I’ve had of late.
The Guidewire is a relative newcomer to the blogosphere. Not counting personal blogs and the weekly posts on DEMO.com, Chris and I haven’t contributed much to the blog conversation. To be honest, our initial stab at a Guidewire Group blog collapsed under its own weight. We approached it with too heavy an editing hand, too complicated an interface, too… much thought, if that’s possible. We’re industry analysts by nature and trade, a profession that doesn’t lend itself to off-the-cuff musings and breaking news. We spend weeks, sometimes months, weighing market trends and startup viability and only then do we craft our analysis aimed toward Guidewire Group’s primary audience of VCs and C-level execs in technology firms. As we delve deeper into directing some of those thoughts into a blog, though, I increasingly struggle with how to build and maintain an online presence by producing interesting, mindful content that people want to read without turning into a ranting egomaniac. It’s right there in About The Guidewire:
Our goal… is to add to the conversation, not echo it. We hope that when we do wade in on an issue, we can offer a different perspective, one that’s missing from the discussion.
Easier said than done. All the well-intentioned, reasoned thought in the world isn’t worth much when people don’t see it. I think Chris best summed up our abrupt education in blogosphere politics when she said recently, “I’ve become a link whore.”
Chris and I have no interest in becoming another TechCrunch. Arrington has built a hell of a business but his philosophy of “leave no lingering emotional stone unturned” isn’t our style. Engaging in blog arguments “as bloody as possible” seems to me a good way to drive oneself completely mental, but if it works for him, so be it. Personally, I want The Guidewire to engage deeper in tech punditry by contributing both a voice of reason and cutting-edge thought. A perfect storm of Chris’ seasoned industry experience – she’s forgotten more about emerging tech in her 25 years than most of us possess in our pinkies – and my position at the forefront of new technologies.
I parsed over some of this with a blog-savvy friend yesterday, who said something I can’t get out of my head. He believes that when you write a blog post with a beginning, middle and end, – as Chris and I often do – there’s nothing for readers to contribute. Take the pretty little bow off The Guidewire, in other words, and expose a bit of the skeleton of our analysis. Does he have a point? Are we presenting our blog readers with flat content? Is that even a negative? If we focus on being thought leaders, must we sacrifice visibility?
The pre-blogosphere way of thinking would hold that I shouldn’t even post this. Publicly questioning The Guidewire’s direction, some may posit, shows a certain weakness. But my immersion in communities like FriendFeed, Twine, Twitter, and Seesmic is making me question a lot about effective interaction and engagement online. So let’s hear it, bloggers, pundits, and just-plain readers (do those exist anymore?) – what do you want from The Guidewire? Is traditional analysis dead?