Blog vs email – Which one is work?

So the other day I realized that I need to keep track of the blogs that I respond to.

I realized that my responses to many blogs are very thoughtful and include quite a bit of cognitive effort to respond to in a meaningful way. This time, and effort, is not being captured and considered a part of my “work”.

How then are blogs and blog responses any different than emails and email responses? And why is one clearly considered work and the other considered a toy? Are my blog entries and blog responses any less valuable than an email? In fact how is it that my blog entries are not more valuable and more authoritative than an email since they are drafted to a greater audience and require more thought than a simple response to an email from a single person? I would argue that the transparency that my blog responses embody have just as much if not more value than something in an email. In addition to that, I contend that my blog entries are persistent, discoverable, and can be referenced by others (ping backs) when and where appropriate.

When I draft a response to a work-related issue in a blog, it is potentially being viewed by many and will persist. I am compelled to ensure that my reply is meaningful and accurately represents what I think about a given topic. That it is written with the intent of sharing or collaborating on the subject at hand.

When I draft an email response to a colleague, I do the same thing, but to a lesser extent because I know it is to a smaller audience.

So who really benefits from my insight and cognitive effort between the two mediums?

The greater good comes from my sharing my thoughts on a subject via a blog, where many can discover the conversation, and use my cognitive work. This is far more useful than an email that is sent and sits in a single individual’s saved email for future use by only that person.

Now to consider how to move ahead.

If I receive a work-related email involving an issue that is potentially pertinent to multiple people and will require considerable effort and thought when drafting a response, why wouldn’t I consider posting the question and response in a blog? This invites my network of peers and colleagues to enhance the response and send a link back to the originator. Who really benefits here? Everyone.

This is not to say that email should never be used. But, perhaps, its clear-cut use has and should be primarily the realm of personal and private conversations. If it is work, why would you share it with so few when so many could benefit from your cognitive effort? Not only could they and learn from you, but they could also help you learn if they feel compelled to add to the response as well.

So, tell me what you think? Are my blog responses work – or not? Are yours? Why are email messages considered work and blogs not?

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2 Responses to “Blog vs email – Which one is work?”

  1. You have to consider the purpose of the blogging.
    Email is generally an electronic form of the traditional postal mail.
    A blog can be anywhere from an online diary to a newspaper to an outlet for fiction.

  2. All good thoughts. As we discussed earlier, it would behoove us to start bending our brains around the idea that eventually email will probably be replaced by something else, something that more easily facilitates knowledge discovery. Maybe it’ll be like a blog, but without the “goof-off” stigma that accompanies blogs today, at least in the eyes of most middle management.

    @smitty- if email is, as you say, the electronic replacement for postal mail (I agree with you that this was the original intent of email), then the future does not bode well for email. Investing in the long-term growth of the postal service is right up there with buying stock in horse and buggy. Over the years, we have bent email to do things it just doesn’t do well, like multiple parallel email conversations within a large group. My sense is that blogs (or something blog-like) can do it better. -MM

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