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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

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Dark Blogs Case Study

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Corante Blog

Friday, March 30th, 2007

If you want engagement, be ready to engage

Posted by Kevin Anderson

I just spent the last hour have a very enjoyable time writing a post on the Guardian’s News blog about the ‘hack’ of John McCain’s MySpace page. I put hack in quotes because I really don’t like how the media uses the term. It’s very unsophisticated, and they usually mean breaking into computers you don’t have permission to use.

But the defacement of John McCain’s MySpace page is sure to go down as Mike Davidson, the ‘hacker’ and CEO of NewsVine, has dubbed it: The ‘immaculate hack’.

Mike gives Team McCain some criticism that rings true for political candidates but also for many news organisations who believe their staff needn’t be involved in their communities:

But then I read the article in today’s Newsweek about how politicians are all setting up MySpace pages in order to “connect” with younger audiences. McCain’s MySpace page is listed, as are the pages from several other candidates. I think the idea of politicians setting up MySpace pages and pretending to actually use them is a bit disingenuous, so I figured it was time to play a little prank on Johnny Mac.

Todd Zeigler in this post at the Bivings Report put it more directly:

This is another example of the point I made in my last post: if campaigns are going to play in these social communities they need to understand the rules and respect the culture.

It’s pretty easy to see through these cheap ploys, and they feel disingenuous. Setting up a static page on a social networking site actually makes it look even more static, not at all interactive. Just by being in MySpace, or having a Twitter feed or putting the odd video up on YouTube doesn’t make a media organisation more interactive if you don’t actually interact.

Publishing on an interactive platform is still just publishing. What happens when people ask your ‘content’ questions, and there isn’t a human being there to answer? Well, at the very least, nothing happens. People get bored and go away. But, sometimes bad things happen, especially when you’re not particularly clueful with your approach and don’t understand the space. If you want community and participation, be ready to participate.

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3 Responses to “If you want engagement, be ready to engage”

  1. Mike Says:

    Kevin,
    It doesn’t surprise me that media hacks misunderstand the modern meaning of ‘to hack’. It is a mixture of ignorance, laziness and snobbishness about anything that is perceived as technical or pertaining to technology. It is an attitude you’ll find in most, if not all newsrooms.

  2. Kevin Anderson Says:

    Yes Mike,

    I’ve seen a few posts on your blog about the dismissiveness of hacks when it comes to technology. I’ve seen it myself. Why do you think that is?

    k

  3. Mike Says:

    Technology plays no part in the folklore of journalism. In the popular imagination, newsrooms are stuck in 1972 and aspiring journalists dream of being the next Woodward and Bernstein. Blame it on Hollywood.