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January 29, 2006

Blog Stages

In the 1960s a guy named Bruce Tuckman wrote a study of how teams come together in which he talked about the Forming - Storming - Norming - Performing model. Basically teams starts up, figure out who's doing what, start to work together, and finally become productive.

So I was thinking that blogs go through the same phase. Let's stuff that particular square peg into this round hole and see if we can make lemonade (as with teams, many blogs don't make it to through all the stages):

  • Forming: Someone starts writing a blog, but nobody reads it.
  • Storming: People begin to read the blog, but initially it attracts those who agree with what it is saying. Comments left on the blog generally agree with what the author writes.
  • Norming: The blog becomes popular enough that people with opposing views start to read it. Initially they may be put off by the one-sidedness of the comments, but they eventually react by posting comments that oppose the author.
  • Performing: The blog turns into a working discussion group in which opposing views are debated in public.

Consider as an example the Mini-Microsoft blog. Initially Wd'P was just yelling in the woods with nobody listening and few comments ("forming"). Then after some people linked to him, he attracted an audience of like-minded disgruntled commenters ("storming"). Eventually he found some topics that hit home with his audience, and generated enough water-cooler buzz that people who disagreed with him began to read and comment ("norming"). And today, most of his posts generate good discussions both pro and con ("performing").

My point is that a performing blog is unquestionably a good thing because it gives a reader a balanced enough view that it moots the "But people won't come to work here because they are scared off by reading Mini-Microsoft" argument (which is the only argument against Mini that I think ever had any traction, although I disagreed with it). However, timewise the Business Week interview last fall was probably the key that pushed Mini from storming to norming, after which it was only a matter of time to get to performing (given the personality of the typical Microsoft employee). And I think Mini-Microsoft right now is a performing blog, which means it gives you a balanced view of whatever, and is thus unquestionably a good thing. But, it took a little while for the change to happen. So the people who hopped on over last October to read the blog still got a view of the storming phase, and if they then gave up because it was still pretty anti-Microsoft, they missed the last three months when it achieved performing status. So they have an outdated view of what Mini-Microsoft is right now.

OK, I think I'm supposed to be blogging, not meta-blogging. I'll stop now.

Posted by AdamBa at January 29, 2006 10:14 PM

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