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To Blog or Not To Blog

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To Blog or Not To Blog

We are in the middle of a revolution, and I don't think we fully comprehend what is happening. To understand better, we should look to the past. Around 1450, when Johannes Gutenberg introduced movable type he transformed the way society used information. It migrated from tightly controlled environments such as monasteries to a wider audience.


By Paul Deffenbaugh March 31, 2007
This article first appeared in the PB April 2007 issue of Pro Builder.

We are in the middle of a revolution, and I don't think we fully comprehend what is happening. To understand better, we should look to the past. Around 1450, when Johannes Gutenberg introduced movable type he transformed the way society used information. It migrated from tightly controlled environments such as monasteries to a wider audience. The upshot was more knowledge sharing, the birth of the Renaissance, and the rise of the middle class. Some consider his invention the most important of the Second Millennium.

I believe the Internet is on the same revolutionary par as the introduction of movable type. We have given information an even wider dissemination and, most importantly, we have turned over control of that information to everyone. No longer is the news controlled by a few editors at major daily newspapers, network news shows or major trade publications.

As an editor, I find this unsettling. But I recognize that Time magazine named all of you Person of the Year for a reason. You have something to say and a desire to speak up.

One of the new ways of broadcasting information is the use of Web logs, popularly known as blogs. Unfortunately, blogs have a reputation as being one-way rants by extremists who haven't done their research. But they are more than that. They provide a new method for interaction between writers and readers that is instantaneous and even blurs the line between who is a writer and who is a reader.

This month, Professional Builder will debut a new Blog Zone on its Web site, www.ProBuilder.com. Our first bloggers will be Scott Sedam, Jim Haughey, and I. You all know Scott from the pages of the magazine. Now, we're giving him a new venue and a new opportunity to share his insight with the builder community. Additionally, the blog format allows you to respond to his columns and thoughts. This immediacy will give the housing industry new conversations and new ideas at a much quicker pace.

My blog, “House Beat,” will give you access to the wide range of information that swirls around me from all the sources we encounter. Jim Haughey is the chief economist for Reed Construction Data, and he blogs on the latest economic information in our industry, giving you immediate interpretation of what the data mean.

The idea behind blogs and other features of what the pundits call Web 2.0 is that we're trying to create a community. The Web 2.0 environment gives the home building industry an opportunity it doesn't currently have to discuss and work through issues.

It takes more than a blog to create a community, though. We are also putting up places on our Web site for visitors to post their own projects. You don't have to pitch your great work to a magazine and wait to attract an editor's attention. You can publish it yourself.

We'll soon have capability for you to upload video of great ideas, new inventions, funny things that you've seen in home building, or anything the community decides it wants to share.

Currently, we have a “Talk Back” feature that allows you to comment about articles we post on our Web site.

As I said, our goal is to create a community where everyone — and I mean everyone — in the industry can participate. Such a community would have these attributes:

  • Valuable
  • Efficient
  • Fun
  • Welcoming
  • Instills Pride
  • Surprising

This magazine has been here for 70 years, and it will continue to deliver information you need in the way you need it. But now, online, we're helping builder talk to builder, and that's the best source of quality content we have.

So, please check out the blogs Scott and I and Jim are starting. We will expand our bloggers as we go along, but here's another chance for the people who matter in this industry — you — to have a greater say.

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