In 1839, English playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton came up with the classic line ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. This may be an old adage now, but it remains as strong today as it ever has. Writing carries influence, and anyone who doubts that only needs to check out the media across the globe to see how much of an effect a few choicely-written lines can have on the people who read them.
Perhaps this is one reason why the noble art of blogging is here to stay – because it is primarily involved with the exchange of words. People communicate online through the words that they write, and unlike newspapers, the media or books, the words go uncensored, are published immediately, and can be added to by anyone who signs in and responds to them. That is an incredibly powerful concept, and the whole ethos behind the superb world of the blogosphere.
From the first online diary written, blogging has gathered momentum and become an established platform for people from all walks of life to voice their personal opinions. Even the most business-focused blogs tend to offer a personal perspective, whether it is a view on buying software, commentary on news and events or political opinions. It is commonly accepted that people who blog are entitled to voice their subjective views, and this democratic approach is what makes blogs stand out from other media vehicles as being different, and engaging.
Trawl through the World Wide Web and you can find thousands of blogs written to different standards, from people who have an opinion and want to share it with the world. This is both positive and negative – positive because it means that people from all walks of life are gaining an opportunity to get their voice heard, and negative in a way because it gives even the most obscure and unpalatable opinions a valid platform from which to communicate. In countries where repression is the norm, blogging is becoming a way of letting the outside world know about punishing regimes and unfair politics, while close to home there are a myriad different sites given over to niche subjects which would previously not have been given air time in regular communications vehicles.
All this goes to show that blogs have more power and credibility than they are often given credit for. This means that as a blog writer, you may be reaching a wider audience of different people and viewpoints than you ever really considered. As the owners of potentially influential sites, we have an obligation to write in a certain way in order to preserve the inherent dignity of our blogs and make sure that we only provide a positive voice in the blogosphere.
It goes without saying that our blogs should be balanced, unbiased and professional in the first instance. Unless you are writing a deliberately provocative blog, it’s important to make sure that any opinions expressed will not cause offence, and that you maintain a professional façade at all times to support your brand. Fanaticism or extremism will always have their place in our world, but obviously that place is not on a business site which is first and foremost there to generate revenue from appealing to as many people as possible.
Having said that, it’s great to be able to find a place where it is both safe and accepted to speak your opinion. Blogs are invaluable for sharing experiences, ideas and viewpoints in a tolerant and open forum, where other people are invited to comment on what you have put. Make the most of this unique opportunity to share your views, always remembering why you set your blog up in the first place, and what it is there to achieve.