Tim Sanders, author of the book Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, has a new blog, Sanders Says. I was reminded of Tim's lovecat way (or what I call bizlove) several times while reading the book I just finished (and blogged about), Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Tim's lovecat way espouses sharing your knowledge, your network and your compassion freely with all of your bizpartners. The priming effects of Naked Conversations together with the announcement of Tim's blog got me to thinking (and now blogging) about the prospect of blogs being the ideal platform for sharing the love, whether for business or non-business purposes ... what I might call BlogLove.
The passages that really jumped out at me were during the chapter on Survival of the Publicists, in which Robert and Shel are are talking about Steve Rubel, who champions blogs as [authentic] public relations tools. They report on how Steve helps his PR clients adopt a listen and participate (vs. command and control) model of public relations -- and, I would argue, demonstrates the lovecat way:
Instead of positioning himself as a gatekeeper in the middle of the conversation, Rubel connected the parties directly to each other [through the client''s blog] and then stepped back to let them talk on their own.
This beautifully illustrates the approach to networking that Tim espouses in his book: collecting [contacts], connecting and disappearing.
A little later, Steve provides one of the most inspiring quotes in the book:
Blogging is the best connection tool ever invented.
Indeed, blogs provide fabulous features to enhance connections ... and share love.
For example, blog authors can create links to people, places and things they reference in their posts (Robert and Shel's Tip #9 in the section on "Doing it Right" is "Be Linky"). Referencing someone is a form of showing appreciation or love ... perhaps tough love in the case of a post that is critical of the referee -- reference need not imply reverence. At the very least, taking the time to create a link demonstrates that the author cares about the object being referenced.
Blogrolls represent more enduring links to other people, places and things, both in their technical implementation -- they typically exist in a sidebar, and so are visible outside of any specfic blog post -- and their social interpretation -- they typically imply that the blog author(s) derives inspiration, or at least information, from the referees. Thus, blogrolls bestow an enhanced level of appreciation and love beyond links in individual posts.
Comments are another common connection feature in blogs (Tip #6: "Add Comments"), which enables the audience to participate in a conversation with the author(s) -- I was going to say they enable "readers" to participate in conversation with the "writers", but in a blog that enables comments, anyone can be a reader or a writer (or both). By enabling comments, bloggers are showing openness and vulnerability, and by writing comments, the audience is offered an opportunity to demonstrate their appreciation and love (though again, it may be "tough love"). And when a blog author adds a comment, he or she is demonstrating an additional level of appreciation and love by engaging in conversation with the audience.
Unfortunately, some blogs exhibit vestiges of a command-and-control mindset, by disabling HTML in comments, constraining the voices of the audience, who are not able to embellish their comments with italics or bold, or [gracefully] refer to other people, places and things (via HREF links) -- or by moderating comments -- requiring every comment to be manually approved by the author(s), which can delay the appearance of comments, thus diminishing the conversational aspect (to me, comment moderation says: "I'll get around to you when I damn well please"). Some blogs only moderate comments that have HTML. In any case, whenever I see these kinds of limitations imposed, I have to ask "Where is the love?".
I recognize that some blog tools include these "protections" as default settings, but as Robert and Shel point out in several places in their book, blogging is all about taking risks, playing the edge, and overcoming fear, uncertainty and doubts. For what it's worth, whenever I've taken the time to post a comment, and the blog strips out my HTML and/or tells me "your comment is awaiting approval", I rarely post another comment on that blog ... and [thus] am much less likely to return to read the blog.
So, why am I ranting about these protections? Because while Tim Sanders writes about the lovecat way -- and I believe he believes in the lovecat way -- he is not demonstrating the lovecat way through his blog. As in his book, which is a one-way communication medium, he is writing about his knowledge, network and compassion through his blog posts. However, by
disabling HTML in his comments, and [see below] not taking the time to respond to any comments posted by his audience, I don't believe he is walking the talk as effectively as he might. This could simply be due to his unfamiliarity with this new medium, or it could be due to his history as an author and a speaker (primarily one-way media). However, Kathy Sierra's Creating Passionate Users blog provides a bright shining example of someone who is an author and a speaker and a fully engaged conversant on an inspiring blog. I feel a sense of love in all of Kathy's posts and comments ... and want to feel -- not just read about -- more of that love through Tim's blog.
I wrote a comment on Tim's first blog post, entreating him to more fully engage the blogosphere in demonstrating the lovecat way through his blog. However, I don't know if he is even reading his comments (since he has not replied to any on his blog). Emboldened by the examples of "open letters" in blogs shared by Robert and Shel in their book, I decided to emulate that in my own blog. Even if Tim never reads (or responds to) this posrt, perhaps it will encourage other bloggers to think about how much they are opening up to the love and appreciation available through the blogoshere.
[Update: Oops! I just noticed that a more recent comment on Tim's first post does have embedded HTML, and verified through a new comment on a more recent post that HREF links work. So, perhaps Tim is reading his comments ... but I see that Gene Becker has still not approved a comment I attempted to make on one of his blog posts over a week ago ... ironically, my comment included a reference to the David Crosby song "Music is Love".]