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Archive for July, 2005

New policy about comments

Posted on July 30, 2005 by Roland

Starting today, if you want to post a comment on this blog, you’ll have to register before. I hope this will not prevent you to put comments here.

When I started this blog, I accepted all comments. Then, because of a few spamming comments, I decided to approve them before publication. But now, the software agents (bots) used by sites selling magical pills, gambling activities or pornography are leaving between 60 and 80 messages per day here, and it’s a waste of time to delete all these useless comments.

With this registration process, which will only be activated when you want to post your first comment, these bots will no longer be able to leave spamming messages.

On another note, and it’s a coincidence, I was forced to completely disable comments on my tech-related blog, Roland Piquepaille’s Technology Trends, after a deliberated attack. Two days ago, an unknown attacker used a script for automatically post 5 500 comments and trackback links on one of my notes — probably because it has been selected by Slashdot.

For more information about this attack and why I had to disable comments on this other blog, please read “Comments Are No Longer Accepted Here.”

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Interview: Elizabeth Albrycht

Posted on July 28, 2005 by Roland

Elizabeth AlbrychtElizabeth Albrycht is a U.S-born woman who lives in France. Of course, she’s not alone in this situation, but she still has a foot on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, with her PR agency, Blogging Planet. She edits a blog about her activities, CorporatePR, where she speaks about the effects of technology on work, society and democracy, and of course of the evolution of corporate communications. Elizabeth is also the author of another blog in the Corante galaxy, Future Tense where she explores the future of work. I decided to meet Elizabeth to discuss the status of the usage of blogs inside companies both in France and in the U.S. Here is the — long (1,800 words) — result from this conversation which was held by e-mail and over the phone.

Roland: First, why did you choose to come to France and to live there?

Elizabeth: I had always wanted to live in France after visiting it on a student exchange when I was 16 years old and falling in love with the country (it was my first trip to Europe). About three years ago - a coup de foudre - I met a wonderful Frenchman. A year later we decided the cross-Atlantic commute was painful (he lived in Paris, me just outside of Washington, DC), so I decided to move. It was relatively easy given I had been working “virtually” from my home office for nearly three years already. I figured a few more time zones wouldn’t be that big of a deal…and they weren’t after my clients got used to the idea.

Roland: As you kept your PR agency in the U.S. at least so far, you know the corporate communications market on both sides of the ocean. Can you tell me if the usage of blogs inside companies is similar in France and in the States?

Elizabeth: When I moved, I had a business partner in California, Jen McClure, with whom I had a agency, Albrycht McClure and Partners. We had been in business for two years under that brand, but had known each other for one year longer. We actually met as independent consultants, each advising the same client (on different matters). We realized we had many of the same philosophies and complementary skills, so we decided to team up. The interesting thing about this is that we worked together for a year before ever actually meeting face-to-face! This was around 2000, and there were increasing numbers of refugees from Silicon Valley setting up independent consultancies and networks, so it wasn’t altogether rare. From what I have seen here in France, it is much more difficult to set up that type of arrangement, for both legal and cultural reasons. Of course, we just set up Blogging Planet in the same manner, so things are moving along here as well!

Given all of the events over the past year, particularly our launch of the New Communications Forum in the US (a 2-day conference for PR and marketing professionals to learn about blogs, wikis, RSS and other new communications tools), Jen and I have decided to take two different paths. She is going to focus on building the New Communications Blogzine (a bi-monthly eNewsletter/blog hybrid she launched after the Forum) and other endeavors focusing on new communications tools education. I have formed an alliance with Guillaume du Gardier of PR Planet in Paris and Neville Hobson of NevOn in Amsterdam to provide training and consulting to global organizations on using new communications tools to build networks.

As regards the differences between the French and American agencies and blogging:

I think the US is further along in the awareness and initial adoption of corporate blogging than France. But I suspect the two countries are relatively close on political and consumer blogging these days, particularly following the events of this summer (esp. constitution). Endeavors like Skyblog and increased mobile blogging (which is much more difficult in the US given its wireless infrastructure is behind technologically to Europe’s) are increasing consumer adoption faster here (I would presume to say - I don’t have numbers to back this up). Also, it seems that the mainstream media is much more accepting of blogging here than in the US, where traditional journalists treat bloggers as the enemy.
As to why the US is further along in corporate blogging, I think one of the growing reasons for that is that there is a strong cadre of PR/marketing bloggers - mostly independents - who are pushing this along. As independents, we can take more risks and more easily take on the role of evangelists. You don’t find most of the big agencies taking on this role in the US. As France has fewer (vocal anyway) independents, you have a few lonely evangelists in the PR/marketing space. I am not saying, of course, that the role of PR/marketing bloggers is the critical thing. A list bloggers like Loic le Meur here and Robert Scoble in the US certainly are pushing things along as well. But it is increasingly falling to the marketing/PR dept. to figure out how to make blogs work on a day-to-day basis, and as more people share their experiences, adoption increases.

Roland: When did you start blogging?

Elizabeth: I started blogging in August 2003. I can’t remember exactly when I found out about blogs. In fact, I think I was reading them before I knew what they were. In August, I read about TypePad accepting beta customers, and decided to become one. I had a sneaking suspicion that blogging was going to be important for communications professionals and felt I needed to figure out what it was all about. After a few months, I was hooked!

Roland: And do you have readers from all over the world?

Elizabeth: Yes! That is one of the beautiful things about blogging. I have met people from all over the world via my blog, including my two new business partners. For example, last year I took a provocative position on outsourcing for PR/marketing to India. I thought it was doable and that PR people should be thinking about it. Most people thought (still do) that it is impossible. Given my experiences of global PR service provisioning, I still think it is doable. But the interesting thing was the PR people from India who contacted me via my blog comments and off-blog to talk about the state of PR in India! That was very cool.

Roland: Do you think that your blogs have modified your business?

Elizabeth: My blog has completely transformed my business. Before I started blogging, we were a traditional PR agency that encouraged the use of online tools (eNewsletters, Forums, etc.), but our primary work was launching companies and products. We were endlessly frustrated by the increased difficulty of doing that job given that our channels of communications had become polluted by spam and inept PR people. To me, blogs represented a brand new channel for PR/marketing that, used appropriately, could be incredibly powerful. Before I started blogging, I was a completely unknown PR person who wasn’t connected into any major networks of influence. Today, I have a reputation as one of the top PR bloggers, I have co-produced a conference, I am being invited to speak at other conferences, my articles are published and people actually want to hear what I have to say! At the same time, I have been able to embark on an intellectual journey of trying to understand the social effects of these technologies and when they mean for more collaborative forms of work and community. I have been working on developing a new communications model or framework that tries to describe how these tools fit together to help people and organizations build networks of influence. It is incredibly challenging and rewarding work.

Roland: And how do you see the use of blogs for corporate communications, by well-known brands for example?

Elizabeth: I think blogs are the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to how organizations will use participatory communications tools (as I like to call them). While blogs can be powerful communications channels, they won’t work for every company - perhaps not even a majority of them. I think we are going to see a hybridization occur, with certain attributes of blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, tagging, and social networks merging to create new tools, for example. I think you are also going to see these technologies bolted onto traditional supply chains and knowledge management tools, creating entirely new ways for organizations to coordinate and collaborate. That is why I am more interested in looking at the phenomenon of these tools from the standpoint of network building, vs. the tool itself.

Roland: Finally, what are your current projects?

Elizabeth: I have invested most of my time over the past several months into better understanding the current theories and practices of cooperation, so I can better decide what tools should be applied in what way to what types of business dilemmas. I firmly believe that communications is at the heart of the future of work, where globally distributed work teams from a variety of organizations gather together to work on projects over a discrete time frame. In order to do this successfully, we need to understand the nature of group dynamics so we can design online work environments that support the success of a the project. I am seeking to combine my knowledge of mass communications and marketing and the new participatory communications tools to this problem.

My partners and I formed Blogging Planet to focus on helping companies understand new communications tools. This alliance is evolving to focus more strongly on future of work related topics. At the same time, I am exploring the future of work via the new Corante blog called Future Tense. I have brought together a group of people from a variety of business disciplines to have a public conversation about the challenges, opportunities and pitfalls of the evolution of work.

Given the state of adoption of these tools, we find that our work with companies today is primarily in training. For example, we have recently done a series of workshops for a variety PR agencies in Europe and a selection of their clients. I will be presenting two one-day seminars on new communications tools for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in Sept and October in the US. I’ll also be speaking at a conference called PharmaBlogging in November in Philadelphia. We have a teleseminar series in development as well as some in-person events in Europe.

Roland: Well, it seems you’ll be busy for a while, so thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

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Apparel retailer Celio starts its first blog

Posted on July 25, 2005 by Roland

Celio's logoFor about ten days now, Celio, the well-known clothing brand, has a blog, and it is to my knowledge the first of its kind in France. This blog, Vous les hommes, is written by Sophie Kune with the total approval of Bertrand Jouvenot, from the marketing department of Celio, and also a personal blogger with his Journal de BJ au bureau. Sophie will animate this blog with a total freedom and her goal is to seduce us. I’ll revisit this blog in a couple of months to see how things are progressing. Read more (in French).

En attendant, voici quelques extraits du premier billet publié sur ce nouveau blog.

Vous les hommes est le fruit d’une rencontre coup de coeur entre une marque et une éveilleuse de style, comme aime à m’appeler Marie.

Un jour de mai, alors que je prenais le métro, je suis tombée nez à nez avec les affiches CELIO. J’ai constaté très rapidement le changement de cap de la marque qui se penchait sur la séduction.

Ni une ni deux, je fais mes recherches, j’appelle le responsable marketing qui se trouve être également un blogger et je me lance…

Nous voici donc aujourd’hui face à une expérience nouvelle…une marque, une bloggeuse en chef et vous les hommes…

Après dix jours, “Vous les hommes” compte déjà 19 billets et 74 commentaires ont été postés: un départ en fanfare!


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Interview: Alexis Perrier

Posted on July 23, 2005 by Roland

Alexis PerrierWith his web agency, Alexis Perrier has created many web sites during the past five years. But recently, his company, Darjeelink, decided to take the plunge and to invest into the blogging world. Alexis wants professionals and companies to use blogs as a new medium for their communication. I recently met Alexis to discuss this strategic change. Here are selected excerpts from this interview (in French).

Alexis Perrier animait depuis plusieurs années une web agency dont le but était de créer des sites Web classiques. Mais récemment, sa société, Darjeelink, a décidé de se reconvertir et d’aider des professions libérales et des entreprises à utiliser les blogs comme moyen de communication. J’ai récemment rencontré Alexis pour discuter de ce changement de stratégie. Voici quelques extraits de cet entretien.

Roland: Tout d’abord, d’où vient le nom de votre société, Darjeelink? Etes-vous un grand buveur de thé?

Alexis: (Rires) En fait, oui. Mais c’est en allant acheter du café pour l’agence que j’ai flashé sur Darjeeling et pensé à ce nouveau nom. Par ailleurs, je ne voulais plus utiliser le nom de mon ancienne agence, AP production.

Roland: Depuis 2000, votre agence créait des sites Web. Quand avez-vous décidé de prendre le virage des blogs?

Alexis: J’ai commencé à y réfléchir depuis le début de l’année. J’ai assisté à plusieurs conférences, dont Les Blogs au Sénat le 25 avril 2005. Et j’ai sauté le pas en ouvrant plusieurs blogs début mai 2005.

Roland: J’ai d’ailleurs remarqué que Darjeelink n’avait même plus de site Web classique. Est-ce voulu?

Alexis: Parfaitement. A partir du moment où j’ai décidé d’utiliser un blog comme support de mon activité, je me suis rendu compte que je n’avais plus du tout besoin d’un site traditionnel et statique.

Roland: Quelle plateforme de publication utilisez-vous?

Alexis: J’utilise Movable Type pour mon agence — et comme je viens de passer le cap des cinq blogs, il va falloir que je pense à relever mon niveau de souscription. Mais j’utilise également d’autres plateformes telles que WordPress.

Roland: Vous avez démarré votre blog il y a moins de trois mois. Avez-vous déjà trouvé une audience?

Alexis: Aujourd’hui, Darjeelink reçoit environ 200 visites par jour, mais ce nombre croît rapidement.

Roland: Comme vous vous êtes lancé à fond dans l’univers des blogs, je suppose que vous y passez beaucoup de temps.

Alexis: Entre la lecture et l’écriture, c’est assez variable. Mais en moyenne, cela doit représenter deux heures par jour.

Roland: Enfin, quels sont vos projets?

Alexis: Dans un premier temps, je vais travailler avec des professions libérales, par exemple des avocats. Mais je veux aussi travailler avec des entreprises, notamment dans le secteur des télécoms.

En fait, je veux “devenir incontournable dans la blogosphère française.”

Roland: Je vous le souhaite même s’il s’agit d’un objectif pour le moins ambitieux.


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Manage your software projects

Posted on July 20, 2005 by Roland

eCourier, based in London, has developed an online package-tracking system which allows for same day delivery services across the UK. All its couriers are equipped with PDAs and customized GPS software. But the development of the Java-based software used for coordinating the back-end and front-end offices has been realized by teams of programmers living in Italy, Germany and the UK. Instead of relying on traditional project management tools to monitor this development, Computerworld writes that eCourier turned to blogging tools to speed package-tracking project.

Here are two short excerpts showing the advantages of these blogging tools.

For eCourier, using blogging tools to help develop the Java-based mapping system made sense for several reasons, said Jay Bregman, eCourier’s co-founder and technology director. “I wanted to cut costs as much as possible, so I couldn’t afford to be traveling from Italy to Germany to the U.K.” to manage the project teams, he said.

At a cost of roughly $1,000 for a five-person license, the blogging tools from Traction Software more than paid for themselves in travel savings alone, said Bregman. “And instead of playing a massive game of telephone [tag] between these [developers], this gave us a source of record between what was being done,” he said.

PS: I already wrote here about the Traction Software tools in “The Dark Blogs.”

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Double check for factual errors

Posted on July 15, 2005 by Roland

Several months ago, I told you to check your text for formal errors before publishing. But it is also crucial to check and double check the facts you’re using to illustrate a point you want to make. Let’s look for example at two recent big mistakes coming from a news magazine and a blog. First, in this article from l’Express about “la blog attitude,” you’ll read that IBM has 130 000 employees. In fact, and it’s pretty easy to find, IBM has more than 330 000 employees. What was probably a typo made by a blogger two months ago, has become the truth for the French blogosphere, and even for some journalists… And what to think about the rumor of the purchase by Microsoft of Claria, a company known for its adware and spyware activities? This rumor, initiated by CNET News.com on June 30, has become reality on July 7 in a post on BoingBoing, which is read by millions of people every month (BoingBoing updated its post since that, but without really admitting its error). These two examples are a disgrace for their authors. And it is very important for you as a blogger to avoid such mistakes. Check and double check your text for factual errors before hitting the “Publish” button… Read more (in French).

Il y a quelques mois, je vous disais de vérifier votre orthographe avant publication. Mais il est tout aussi essentiel de vous assurer que vos notes s’appuient sur des faits avérés et vérifiés. Voici par exemple deux erreurs récentes relevées dans la presse et dans un blog. Tout d’abord, lisons cet article de l’Express sur “la blog attitude.” Les deux signataires de l’article écrivent qu’IBM a 130 000 employés. En fait, et c’est plutôt facile à vérifier, IBM a plus de 330 000 employés. Ce qui n’était sans doute qu’une faute de frappe faite par un blogueur il y a deux mois a été repris en abondance par la blogosphère française, et même par des journalistes… Et que penser de la rumeur de rachat par Microsoft de Claria, une société connue pour ses activités d'’adware’ et de ’spyware’? Cette rumeur, lancée le 30 juin par CNET News.com, est devenue réalité le 7 juillet dans un billet de BoingBoing, l’un des blogs les plus lus au monde — et qui a fait machine arrière depuis. Ces deux exemples sont désolants. Avant de lire la suite pour beaucoup plus de détails, je vous répète qu’il est indispensable de vérifier avant publication que vos billets ne comportent pas d’erreurs factuelles évidentes.

Commençons par l’article de l’Express, signé par deux journalistes, Marie Huret et Julien Bordier, et qui écrivent: “Aux Etats-Unis, IBM a invité officiellement ses 130 000 collaborateurs à bloguer sur ses produits.”

Tous les articles que je lis — dans la presse et les blogs français — à propos des blogs d’IBM depuis la mi-mai reprennent ce chiffre sans jamais le vérifier (voir “IBM Creating an Army of Evangelists” où Neville Hobson avait sans doute fait une faute de frappe).

Je le répète ici, IBM emploie plus de 330 000 employés, et je m’étonne qu’avec plus de 3 000 blogueurs (au moins en interne), aucun n’ait écrit un rectificatif. Mais ce que je trouve encore plus étonnant, c’est que plusieurs articles dans la presse française aient repris ce chiffre sans jamais le vérifier, chose pourtant facile à faire!

IBM est une société cotée en Bourse qui doit donc rendre publics un très large éventail de documents. Il existe des centaines de sites sur le Web où il est possible de trouver le nombre d’employés d’IBM. Sur le site officiel d’IBM, qui n’est sans doute pas très souvent mis à jour, vous verrez sur cette page, accessible en deux clics à partir de la page d’accueil, qu’IBM a 319,273 employés alors que Yahoo! nous dit que ce nombre est de 348,052.

Le nombre exact n’est pas important, et varie de jour en jour. Ce qui l’est plus, c’est que deux journalistes français, écrivant pour un magazine réputé, ne vérifient pas leurs informations. Ecrire qu’IBM a 130 000 employés est équivalent à écrire que la France compte 23 millions d’habitants. Si l’Express avait imprimé “La France, avec ses 23 millions d’habitants, se pose des questions sur son avenir en Europe,” vous ne croyez pas qu’il y aurait eu des réactions et que ces journalistes — et leur rédaction –auraient eu quelques problèmes?

Prenons un autre exemple. Sur le site de L’Express, vous pouvez trouver un lien vers l’OJD, l’organisme qui contrôle le tirage et la diffusion de la presse en France. Sur cette page, vous pourrez voir que la diffusion totale du magazine est d’environ 550 000 exemplaires — et quasiment stagnante depuis 2000. Que pensez-vous que la direction de l’Express ferait si brusquement l’OJD disait que la diffusion du magazine était tombée à 210 000 exemplaires?

Je trouve parfaitement scandaleux qu’un magazine tel que l’Express publie des articles tels que celui-ci, pas pour son contenu, mais parce que ni les journalistes, ni les correcteurs, ni la rédaction, n’ont vérifié le nombre d’employés de la plus grande entreprise d’informatique dans le monde.

Si les journalistes ne savent pas comment vérifier les faits, pourquoi devrions-nous leur faire confiance? Et s’ils prennent leurs informations sur des blogs sans les vérifier, faisons comme eux: lisons les blogs et non les magazines.

Mais là se pose une autre question: pouvons-nous faire confiance aux blogs? Là encore, la réponse n’est pas très claire. Et cela m’amène à parler de la rumeur de rachat de Claria, cette société connue pour diffuser des logiciels de type “adware,” par Microsoft. A priori, l’information, révélée le 30 juin par CNET News.com (”Microsoft said to be mulling purchase of Claria“) n’était qu’une rumeur, peut-être même orchestrée par Microsoft pour savoir comment le public réagirait.

Bien entendu, la blogosphère s’est agitée dans tous les sens. Technorati recense aujourd’hui 980 billets à propos de cette rumeur de rachat (lire les détails ici).

Mais un des blogs les plus lus au monde, Boing Boing, a commencé à déraper et a écrit le 7 juillet que Microsoft avait acheté Claria. Comme c’était faux, BoingBoing a mis à jour son article que vous pouvez trouver ici dans sa version modifiée.

Dans sa recherche de scoop, BoingBoing a commis une erreur qui a peut-être été préjudiciable financièrement pour de nombreuses personnes.

Vous trouverez beaucoup plus de détails en lisant cette note sur le blog d’Ed Bott, qui a écrit plusieurs livres sur Microsoft et Windows, “Boing Boing gets a big shovel, spreads BS.”

Alors que faire si des magazines comme l’Express ou des blogs comme BoingBoing publient des informations non vérifiées?

Si vous êtes lecteur, c’est facile: je vous suggère de lire plusieurs sources, et de vérifier ce qui est écrit, que ce soit sur un blog ou dans un magazine.

Et si vous êtes blogueur, ne faites pas du “copier-coller” d’un article que vous trouvez intéressant. Là encore, prenez le temps de recouper et de vérifier vos sources d’information.


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Interview: Marie Corceiro-Leal

Posted on July 12, 2005 by Roland

Marie Corceiro-LealIn order to celebrate Bastille Day, here are some preliminary — idea-based — fireworks. Marie Corceiro-Leal is the host of several blogs, including ParisZine, a blog about living in the 11th district of Paris and which includes practical tips as well as cultural or political news. Marie is currently working with other Parisian bloggers to collectively gather all the information required to feed these Parisian blogs, which are rapidly becoming an alternative to official city sources. And as Marie is about to transform her blog into a small company, you sure understand why I wanted to meet her to learn more about her projects. Below are from this interview (in French).

Pour fêter le 14 juillet, je vous invite aujourd’hui à un vrai feu d’artifice — d’idées. Marie Corceiro-Leal anime plusieurs blogs, dont le plus connu est ParisZine, qui traite de tous les aspects de la vie du 11ème arrondissement de Paris, qu’ils soient pratiques, culturels ou même politiques. Marie travaille actuellement avec d’autres blogueurs sur une mise en commun d’informations nécessaires à la vie de ces blogs de quartiers, véritables journaux municipaux alternatifs. Et comme elle veut transformer son blog en entreprise, j’ai souhaité la rencontrer pour qu’elle nous en dise plus sur ses projets. Voici quelques extraits de cet échange.

Roland: Comment as-tu eu l’idée de démarrer ce blog d’animation du 11ème?

Marie: Je suis revenue à Paris en février 2005 après 13 ans passés en province et à l’étranger. J’avais besoin de me réapproprier la ville où je suis née et j’ai commencé par l’arrondissement où j’ai trouvé un appartement. Très vite, je me suis rendue compte que l’information était très dispersée, tant en terme de supports que de lieux et surtout qu’elle n’arrivait pas forcément à destination. Je crois que le déclencheur a été la découverte de l’existence des Conseils de Quartier. Cela m’a fait l’effet d’une révélation.

Et j’ai démarré officiellement ParisZine le 1er mai 2005, une date symbolique pour un blog “citoyen.”

Roland: Combien de temps y passes-tu par jour?

Marie: Plusieurs heures et c’est encore insuffisant pour atteindre la qualité de contenu que j’aimerais donner au blog. C’est la raison pour laquelle je me suis décidée à faire de ParisZine une petite entreprise locale à la rentrée. Ainsi je pourrais m’y consacrer à plein temps et en vivre.

Roland: Et comment concilies-tu ton activité de blogueuse avec tes autres activités, professionnelles et personnelles?

Marie: C’est très difficile justement. Je ne parviens pas encore à trouver l’équilibre entre toutes mes activités. D’où la décision de faire du blog une source de revenus suffisante pour me dispenser de travailler “en plus.” ParisZine est d’autant plus prenant qu’il touche à la vie citoyenne et cette implication est chronophage! Il y a beaucoup de réunions auxquelles il faut assister pour comprendre la ville et participer à sa gestion, à son évolution.

Roland: Si ton blog devient une entreprise, quelles seront tes sources de revenus?

Marie: C’est un peu trop prématuré pour en parler, mais j’ai déjà quelques pistes.

Roland: Quelle plate-forme logicielle utilises-tu et est-ce que le coût te paraît raisonnable?

Marie: J’utilise blogSpirit après avoir testé plusieurs autres hébergeurs. Les prix me semblent raisonnables (8 euros par mois pour plusieurs blogs), en tout cas compétitifs, mais ce n’est pas ce qui a motivé mon choix. Je voulais une plateforme qui offre la plus grande fiabilité possible dans l’édition programmée des articles et une apparence très “clean.” blogSpirit réunit tout cela et l’équipe est charmante ce qui ne gâte rien.

Roland: Sais-tu si tes lecteurs habitent le 11ème?

Marie: Dès les premières semaines, il y a eu entre 1 700 et 2 200 visites par jour. Pas mal de lecteurs habitent le 11ème oui, puisqu’ils m’écrivent en s’annonçant comme “voisins” ou le signalent dans leurs commentaires. D’autres étrangement n’y vivent pas mais y ont vécu et viennent prendre des nouvelles de lieux qui leur rappellent des souvenirs. D’autres encore sont des touristes à la recherche d’informations culturelles. Récemment une américaine, une alsacienne et une provençale nous ont rejoint via l’information publiée sur le blog lors d’une promenade organisée par le Quartier Nation-Dumas.

Roland: Est-tu devenue une célébrité du 11ème?

Marie: (Rires). Non, pas une célébrité, mais disons que mon nom circule et que mon visage est familier d’un certain nombre. Notre maire [, Georges Sarre,] m’a effectivement invité à le rencontrer d’une part et à participer à une fête organisée par la mairie. Cela dit, je ne tiens pas à la célébrité, je préfère m’imaginer devenir LA spécialiste de mon arrondissement d’ici quelques années et le connaître sur le bout des doigts comme on dit. 

Roland: Peux-tu me donner plus de détails sur ce projet de coordination de blogs de quartiers parisiens?

Marie: En fait, tout est parti de notre désir de prendre quelques jours de vacances cet été! Tenir un blog local seul est une entreprise titanesque! Aussi, avec deux autres de mes collègues blogueurs locaux, nous avons décidé de nous partager les recherches à faire sur certains sujets. Ce partage des sources d’information est déjà un gain de temps considérable. Libre à chacun ensuite d’écrire sur le ton qu’il veut et selon son opinion. Nous avons donc choisi ensemble les thèmes sur lesquels nous avions tous envie de travailler et nous nous sommes répartis le travail d’investigation. Par ailleurs, nous avons convenu d’échanger quelques articles durant l’été, toujours dans le but de pouvoir relâcher la pression sans délaisser la mise à jour quotidienne.

Roland: Enfin, quels sont tes projets personnels — à part passer une superbe soirée d’anniversaire pour tes 40 ans en septembre?

Marie: Réussir mon DEA [en anthropologie de la santé] puis entrer en Doctorat l’an prochain. Faire de la recherche est une chose qui me tient très fort à coeur. C’est un rêve d’enfant et il faut toujours chercher à réaliser ces rêves-là, ce sont les plus authentiques.

En parallèle, j’espère que ParisZine me fera vivre.

Roland: Merci et bonne chance pour tous tes projets.

PS: Si vous êtes à Paris le 14 juillet, ne ratez pas l’incroyable rallye 2005 qui se passera dans le 11ème et dont Marie parle ces jours-ci dans ParisZine.


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A new report about corporate blogs

Posted on July 11, 2005 by Roland

According to a survey released by Backbone Media, a search engine marketing company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, corporate blogs are a good way of interacting with customers and consumers. But the almost obvious conclusion of this 72-page report is based on a population which doesn’t seem to be representative. “518 bloggers were contacted for the corporate blogging survey, resulting in 816 people visiting the survey page.” And on the only 97 people who filled the survey form, 75 were bloggers.

Here is a link to the full survey (PDF format, 72 pages, 1.02 MB).

And here are selected excerpts from the executive summary.

We asked bloggers at hundreds of companies to participate in an online survey and conducted in-depth interviews with leading individuals from six corporate blogs that were selected as representative of the diverse spectrum of the corporate blogging world.

What we discovered was that for the majority of our survey sample, (which includes some of today’s biggest corporations and scrappiest underdogs), corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. We discovered that corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business.

And here is another — expected — conclusion.

Listening to customers and acting on their suggestions is one of the best ways to build a group of customers who are committed to expressing their goodwill to their community. It is a common practice in blogging to provide a link back to a thought originator, which is valuable because backlinks are a way that search engines distinguish the order of the editorial rankings. When customers start commenting, posting or tracking back to their blogging community it can have a viral effect - spreading the word through other blogs. We discovered that it is a company’s blogging strategy that will produce the strongest community goodwill, and that goodwill brings the most marketing and sales returns.

So this report is interesting, and you should read some of the case studies, but its conclusions would have been more valuable if thousands of bloggers have answered the survey.

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Interview: Bruno Boutteau

Posted on July 8, 2005 by Roland

Bruno BoutteauBruno Boutteau is a consultant in the high-tech area and with his company, Economie Numérique Conseil, he helps local communities to deal with all the aspects of ‘e-government.’ To meet his needs for document content management, he has built a knowledge database disguised as a news site. So, strictly speaking, he’s not a blogger even if his site looks like a blog. On this page, Bruno mentions articles speaking about his centers of interest, such as the environment, nanotechnologies or robotics. I wanted to meet him to learn why he was not using a traditional blogging tool and what were the advantages of the solution he chose. Below are selected excerpts of the conversation I had with Bruno (in French).

Bruno Boutteau est consultant dans le domaine des technologies de pointe et avec sa société, Economie Numérique Conseil, il aide les collectivités locales dans tous les domaines du ‘e-government.’ Pour répondre à ses besoins de gestion de documents, il a créé une base de connaissances sous forme d’un site d’actualités. Ce n’est donc pas un blogueur au sens strict, même si son ‘forum’ s’apparente à un blog. Sur cette page, Bruno référence des articles parlant de ses centres d’intérêt, tels que l’environnement, les nanotechnologies ou la robotique. J’ai souhaité le rencontrer pour qu’il nous dise pourquoi il n’utilise pas une solution classique de blog et quels étaient les avantages de sa solution de publication. Voici quelques extraits de cet échange.

Roland: Comment avez-vous l’idée de démarrer votre site d’actualités?

Bruno: J’avais besoin de me constituer une base de connaissances pour mes besoins personnels. Et plutôt que de créer une collection de ‘bookmarks,’ j’ai préféré avoir sous la main la totalité de ce que je lisais ailleurs.

Roland: Quelle plate-forme logicielle utilisez-vous?

Bruno: Tout d’abord, je suis un fervent défenseur des logiciels libres. Et mon site est hébergé par INGENIWEB qui offre les technologies open source Zope et Plone pour la gestion de contenus et de sites Internet/Intranet.

Roland: Pourquoi l’avez-vous choisi de préférence à un blog?

Bruno: Avec Zope et Plone, je dispose d’espaces publics et privés. Ce n’est pas le cas avec la plupart des logiciels de publication de blogs, tout au moins dans le domaine de l’open source. Et comme Zope et Plone étaient disponibles dans le cadre de mon hébergement, je ne suis pas allé étudier d’autres solutions.

Roland: Pouvez-vous faire un premier bilan sur l’utilisation de votre site au bout de quelques mois d’existence?

Bruno: J’ai démarré ce site en octobre 2004 et il me coûte environ 20 euros par mois. Je reçois environ un millier de visites par jour, dont la moitié via les moteurs de recherche. Par contre, il y a très peu de commentaires sur mon site. Il faut dire que je n’autorise les commentaires qu’après inscription préalable.

Roland: Combien passez-vous de temps à écrire ce ‘blog’ — et à en lire d’autres?

Bruno: J’y consacre environ une heure et demi par jour pendant la semaine, et bien plus pendant les week-ends.

Roland: D’une manière générale, que vous a apporté ce site?

Bruno: Tout d’abord, il me facilite la vie: je n’ai plus besoin d’avoir à rechercher sur Internet un article que j’ai lu il y a six mois. Ensuite, même si je n’ai pas encore enregistré de retombées en terme de nouveaux clients, ce site commence a être connu. Quand j’assiste à certaines conférences, des personnes que je ne connaissais pas auparavant me disent qu’ils le lisent de temps en temps.

Roland: Enfin, quels sont vos projets?

Bruno: Je vais continuer certaines de mes activités en France, mais je pense aller vivre en Bulgarie. Les gens y sont extrêmement aimables et je suis en train d’apprendre leur langue. J’aimerais aider leurs collectivités territoriales à intégrer l’Union Européenne en 2007 de manière efficace.

Roland: Merci et bonne chance pour votre délocalisation personnelle.


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Are blogs from e-tailers increasing their sales?

Posted on July 6, 2005 by Roland

The New York Times asked the question to several online merchants in North America and gives their answers in this article, “Blogging while browsing, but not buying.” First, most of these online shops are afraid that customers follow outside links on their blogs and don’t come back to their shops. But they’re still trying and the newspaper asked several companies involved in different activities what they thought about their blogs. In this note, I decided to focus on the experience of Bluefly, a discount apparel e-tailer of brands such as Prada, Fendi or Gucci.

Here are some short excerpts from this article.

Executives at Bluefly.com, the discount apparel e-tailer, credit their blog, Flypaper with bringing in new customers. Flypaper, which was introduced in April and features postings — sometimes more than one a day — on anything fashion-related, “is bringing some very positive things,” said Melissa Payner, the chief executive.

Among other things, Payner said, Flypaper visitors who click to Bluefly have been more likely to make a purchase than those who visit Bluefly directly.

The company doesn’t say if its sales have increased after the introduction of its blog. And other retailers are also pretty vague. For example, here is a quote by Shmuel Gniwisch, the CEO of an online jeweler based in Montreal, Ice.com, which also has a blog, Ice Blog.

Gniwisch said the blogs attracted “thousands of visitors” a week, but the effect on sales was unclear. “Technically, this is a very soft sell,” he said. “We’re intending to build awareness of our product, so if sales come, great. If not, it’s also good.”

Apparently, e-tailers don’t know if their blogs have a positive ROI, even in the U.S. If you know about similar experiences in France or in Europe, please leave a comment below.

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