Don’t Beware the Blog
Recently, I was unlucky enough to be hit on the head by a stray golf ball while playing in a tournament. It hit me hard but fortunately in a safe place. A rather painful experience, but one that led me on an interesting journey and changed a long-standing perception I’ve had over Internet use.
When I got home from playing golf I needed to write this column, but the dull headache wasn’t helping me focus. I had been ruminating over various news items but nothing had affected me enough to feel that I had to write about it.
Being on deadline and unable to focus is not exactly ideal. I decided to procrastinate by surfing the Internet, hoping to find something interesting or provide more context to these various news items. Perhaps it would lead to a moment of clarity.
This moment came but not in it’s usual form. Instead of finding context, I discovered the power of online web logging (also known as blogging), something I had previously held with some disdain.
I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to information on the internet. I like information that is written by so-called “experts”, people with experience or with an upstanding organization, or who have some kind of credentials. In my mind, the information is more credible.
My initial experience with blogging was not a good one. At first glance, it seemed as though blogging was another excuse for people to ramble on just for the sake of saying something, or respond to silly comments made by others with their own equally ridiculous comments.
But now I view blogging with rose-coloured glasses. When I first began browsing blogs on agriculture there didn’t appear to be many in existence. I most frequently came across animal rights groups and vegetarian groups, whose comments were unfounded and almost belligerent.
My most recent journey into reading blogs led me to discover that they can provide a unique insight into consumer trends and allow us to see how they respond to current issues. I was just looking in the wrong place. What at first seems like rambling is actually useful fodder.
Many blogs exist that can be useful in this industry (to start reading blogs, search for blogs on google or visit www.blogline.com). Bloggers write about food, the environment, animal welfare, recipes, food safety, and more. A lot can be learned from consumers on their purchasing habits, what they believe about agriculture, and what could potentially lead them away from consuming livestock products.
It’s also becoming a key marketing strategy for groups opposing animal agriculture and those questioning food safety. These groups have recognized the power of blogs, especially with youth, and they have found an effective new way to spread their message. Their blogs have greatly improved over the past year.
I looked up some statistics on blog use and a blog tracking firm called Technorati has estimated that there are currently 14 million blogs and 80,000 are added every day. No matter what your opinon of blogging and bloggers, it’s an information vehicle that doesn’t seem to be losing popularity.
It’s also a huge opportunity of spreading misinformation. I think it’s time that agriculture joined the world of blogging. n
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