An interesting little firefight broke out a few days ago over on Micro Persuasion, around Rubel’s Character Blogs are a Complete Waste of Time post. [Go read the post and comments.]
Speaking as someone who created a pretty successful “character” corporation/Web site a number of years ago, I fall strongly into the “there’s absolutely nothing wrong with character blogs” camp. Around the same time that I created Alien Abductions, Inc., I was also spending a lot of time writing and was fascinated by the public/private tension of a lot of writing on the Web; I created a couple of characters and had them write “online diaries,” which looked a lot like blogs. Those were less successful (I’m not that good a writer), but that experience makes me strongly disagree with statements like this:
Character blogs are a waste of time because a character is not and never will be human – unless it’s Pinocchio. Jason even noted that the Captain, who blogged about basketball, couldn’t possibly play the sport. Ugh. A character blog is a giant missed opportunity to have real humans – whether they be employees, customers, or even distillers and bottlers – engaging in a real dialogue with consumers. I am all for using characters in TV commercials and even micro-sites, but having them blog is just a lame, lazy idea. In fact, it’s an insult to blogging and bloggers everywhere.
I have a difficult time accepting that creative writing in a particular format (e.g. “character blogging”) is an insult to anyone. I can agree that the Captain Morgan blog sucked, but that’s because the writer or creative team doing it sucked…they didn’t understand what they were doing. If a writer creates a compelling character and the character’s blog is engaging — revealing different aspects of the character over time — then what’s the problem? Why is that blog offensive when a “micro-site” by or about that character isn’t?
Since I still owe a followup on Fishtank and Habitrail, in addition to my regular job and trying to squeeze in a few minutes with my family, I’ve decided to take an experimental approach in this post. There’s a great deal more I could say, but instead I’ll see if I can get someone else to take a look at the topic. Someone who has a keen interest in, and understanding of, both blogs and the role that “characters” play in our lives. Someone like Wil Wheaton. Actually it is Wil Wheaton.
Since my email to him will just be one of the many coming from somebody that he doesn’t know, asking for something, I won’t give good odds on his having time to respond, but I’ll update if I hear anything. Consider the buck passed.