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Five Questions for David Carter – CTO, iUpload

“David Carter”: is CTO & VP Strategy of “iUpload”: David provides the overall technology direction of the company and consults with customers on internet strategy. David founded WebPartz Inc. which was acquired by iUpload in March of 2003. Prior to forming WebPartz, he spent 11 years at Microsoft where he had held various positions including Manager of Internet Strategy, Marketing Manager Knowledge Management, Content Management, and eCommerce products.
*One Degree: iUpload’s roots are in content management but you seem to be making your biggest inroads in blogging. At the same time, many blogging tools seem to be moving towards becoming full site/content management tools. What’s going on here?*
Our content management clients wanted more staff to contribute content, as well as including partners and customers. We used blogging as a way to allow them to do that. If you are a company with thousands of customers, managing that many posts requires a whole different approach. We took what we already knew about content management, with permissions, workflow, etc. and applied it to a new suite of tools to manage communities of blogs and blog posts. Our market is still the same, corporations and large communities; we’ve just broadened their sphere of contributors.
*One Degree: I’m fascinated by your “bubble up” content approach whereby community sites give readers blogs and then promote individual posts to more broadly read areas. Can you talk a little about this and what the appeal is for community sites over, for example, discussion boards?*

The problem with discussion boards is that they encourage a “rant/rave” mentality. They also don’t read like an article. As a blogger, if you post a rant in your own blog, you pollute the whole tone of your site. It adds some accountability.
Aggregating posts accomplishes a few things. It lets us “liberate the gems” from the individual blogs. It creates a readable topic of posts, and it gives some credibility to the blogger, possibly some bragging rights. The inverse is also true. You can feel free to post something trivial in your blog knowing it’s appropriate to your blog audience, but is not going to appear on the main site. We expanded a bit on what a blog post can be. A post can be an event, a photo album, or an attachment like an MP3 files. As a result, we can aggregate posts into events calendars, rss feeds, community photo albums, and podcast channels.
*One Degree: What are you doing with “Canadian Idol”: ?*
We started talking about blog communities with CTV a year ago, and now have several projects on the go. Meanwhile “Idol” fans in general had already struck out on their own to create fan web pages and blogs. Some were blatantly using trademarked logos and images. Now “CTV gives them a controlled venue”: for it and promotes specific content. At first, we launched the photo album component to capture some great audition photos, and recently we made the full blown blogging application available. Anyone registered on the Idol site gets their own blog. The judges, Sass Jordan, Farley Flex, Zack Werner, Jake Gold all have blogs as do Ben Mulroney and Jon Dore.
*One Degree: Does every company need a blog?*
I can’t think of many that don’t. In the past ad hoc communications were always in the form of email. We think companies should put that content in a blog, instead of broadcasting email content to groups of people. Heck, do both. Our application gives every blog an email submission address, so you can add it to your distribution list and the email will populate your blog. Readers can read the email, the blog, or subscribe to an RSS feed of that content. We are not talking about creating more work, simply changing tactics a bit.
*One Degree: What’s the most common mistake you see people make when they start blogging for business?*
These are probably the three biggest mistakes:
_The shotgun start._
Before you open the floodgates, consider that blogging is a form of corporate communications. You need to be clear to staff what the blogs are for. Show some examples of different blogs and set out expectations to each individual. The “voice” of their blog should reflect who their customer set is. In some cases the blog is targeted at the person’s industry peers, not the end customer. Most companies have an email policy in place now. It’s time to expand that to include blogs.
_One blog for the whole company_
If one blog represents the whole company, you might want to just consider expanding your web site. It certainly won’t be putting a human face on your company.
_The pretend executive blog._
But in some cases it’s really the PR company. I’m not saying the PR agency can’t help, but don’t fake something personal. Blogs are a great place for the management team to highlight challenges, and comment on day to day issues. Maybe it’s the opportunity to correct some bad PR, maybe it’s a place to welcome a new customer.