Friday, November 11, 2005

Please Note the Question Mark: Not All Corporate Blogging Constitutes "Synthetic Transparency"

I am excited to see that several bloggers have visited our class blog and picked up on my post "Corporate Blogging as Synthetic Transparency?"

Please note that question mark in the title of my original post.

I am not claiming that all corporate blogging constitutes "synthetic transparency." For example, one blogger stated that I claimed all corporate blogging represents synthetic transparency, suggested that I made an "illogical leap," that my post represents "anti-establishment rhetoric," and indirectly suggested that I fit the bill for a favorite phrase among teachers of all kinds -- "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Ouch! In this blogger's favor he makes the excellent point that all communication is selective, which I agree with. Here's my response:

Hi Kip,

Thanks for your comments on our class blog. I agree with you on one point and would also ask that you read the whole of my post on another. First, the part I agree with you on is this: blogging, like all forms of communication, is necessarily a selective activity. In fact, I have made the same point myself in the "Inaugural Post" of my own blog "Word Of Mouth Communication Study." Here's what I wrote:

"Although blogs are exercises in transparency and openness (selection) we must also recognize that they are equally practices of deflection (as the rhetorician Kenneth Burke reminds us). Of course, the deflections, absences, omissions, or silences need not necessarily be borne of ill intent, but certainly they represent alternative rhetorical versions and visions of how things are or could be. This tension between openness and closedness is one I hope to reflect on in this blog, especially as it relates to the construction of personal and institutional identities."

Second, I invite you to read my whole post on synthetic transparency. Here's what I wrote at the end of my post and what many who have picked up on the notion have missed:

"Please note that I have a cautious sense of optimism about the potential for blogging to create a greater sense of openness and transparency in corporate communication efforts. So I introduce this phrase to give us a way to call out companies who are not using blogs to their fullest, and ideal(istic), potential."

Not all corporate blogging activity constitutes "synthetic transparency." However, I see blogging gaining momentum among companies and I want to help ensure companies are doing it for the right reasons. I introduced this term as a way of empowering people to call out firms who are just using blogs because they hear "everyone else is doing it" or are not really committed to the ideals espoused by blogging. Like all terms, there is nothing inherently "synthetic" about blogging, just like there is nothing inherently "authentic" about it either. Both terms do not have intrinsic meanings; rather, those meanings shift over time subject to the agreements (and disagreements) within and among discourse communities.

Thanks again for your interest!

Walter (aka, Dr. Carl)