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We have all experienced it…the dream. You are riding the metro into work, sitting at your desk, going to an important meeting, shopping at the local Target, speaking at a conference, and then suddenly you realize…your NAKED! At some point, almost everyone has awakened after dreaming of being naked. The events surrounding the unforeseen nudity are as varied as the interpretations and feelings associated with all too common dream. Sometimes nakedness indicates freedom, vulnerability, fear of exposure, guilt, or rejection. Psychologists argue nakedness symbolize the experience of living life with complete vulnerability. For many, especially for Americans, no one feels more exposed than when they are naked.

So what does my rambling about naked dreams have to do with social media, the digital age, and blogging…oddly enough, quite a bit. Recently, I launched my fist blog, Bippity Boppity Blog. Since then, I have felt extremely out of place, awkward, vulnerable, and naked in the vastness of the blogosphere. It’s easy to get lost and feel completely clueless. Fortunately, for me, it seems this is exactly what blogging is all about. Engaging my readers with what I am feeling, what I am thinking, and listening to their comments.  Blogging does not require I filter my posts through formal writing and traditional format. The blogosphere is incredibly liberating and requires I fully engage in an honest and open conversation. I’m given the freedom to learn and express my apprehension and confusion, while also (hopefully) offering some insight about the digital age. The more I read about and explore the blogosphere it becomes very clear, blogging has taken us from the digital age to a participation age. Blogging forces writers to become vulnerable, open, and willing to listen and participate with their readers.

The book, Naked Conversations use the concept of “nakedness” to describe how blogging transforms communication between businesses and their customers. Simple press releases, company memos, and monthly newsletters do not cut it.  Authors, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel urge businesses to become open, passionate, vulnerable, human, and naked! Company blogs (if used appropriately) can be an impressive tool, engaging the whole world into conversation. For businesses, blogging adds a human element and gives readers/consumers a glimpse into the everyday life of the company. A well-crafted, passionate and authoritative blog improves consumer relationships and increases customer trust and company credibility.

Blogging compels companies to become transparent and naked. This means allowing customers to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.  There is no need to appear perfect, guarded, and formal. It just so happens, engaging in naked conversations can have a huge pay-off. Scoble and Israel cite numerous case-studies displaying the positive feedback attained from starting a company blog.  A simple, focused, engaging, accessible blog can greatly improve company reputation, empower employees, and build public trust.  Blogger, Chris Brogan offers advice for business using social media tools to reach their customers. He urges businesses to think from the perspective of another, keep the conversation focused on the customer, and reminds businesses that the most important people in our lives are the ones who will ask the questions.  Writer, Jeremiah Owyang believes companies must use social media and learn to better apply these technologies when communicating with their customers/clients.  To compete in today’s digital market, blogging is essential.

Ironically, in most dreams no one other than yourself realizes your naked. Psychologists believe the dreamer is magnifying the situation and making an issue out of nothing. Many companies believe vulnerable or naked conversations pose great risks.  However,  Scoble and Israel provide a compelling argument, that naked conversations is what customers are craving.  The public is tired of guarded, inhuman, coporate talk.   So, dream psychologists, Scoble and Isreal, and myself are in agreement…if you are afraid of engaging in naked conversations, take the risk, you may not have anything to worry about.  In fact, stripping down to the basics of nakedness (remember: open conversation, not actual nakedness) may be exactly what your customers are looking for.  


In the past, Big Media controlled the creation and dissemination of news information without any opportunity for public input.  Thanks to Internet technology, Big Media’s lecture-styled news presentation has changed.  Now, everyone has the ability to become self-published journalists and join a global conversation about what “we” think is important.  In the book, We the Media, author Dan Gillmore, discusses the power given to the once reader-only group to create and participate in newsmaking.  Gillmore very candidly explains how the walls guarding Big Media are crumbling.  He reflects on how technology is changing everyone’s consumption, creation, and interaction with the news. 


The centralized, highly controlled, top-down philosophy of news creation no longer exists.  The opportunity for virtually anyone to create news has changed and rewritten the rules for journalists and other professional news commentators.  One “new rule of public life” is everyone has the ability to investigate more deeply into corporations’, newsmakers’, and individuals’ business, so watch what you say and do because nothing is “off the record.”  Information about everything and everyone is a click away and shared with millions of people in an instant.  A recent blog shows how something as simple as a Tweet update can cause conflict with future clients.   Writer, Jeremiah Owyang warns fellow Twitters, “don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, and assume that your current and future boss, wife and mother are reading it.” 


The new principle of transparency occurs on various levels.  I am constantly amazed at individuals’ willingness to become (at times unnecessarily) open, transparent, and honest when updating their personal blogs, their Facebook status, or their Tweets.  People expect to know each other’s mood, relationship status, activities, political opinions…etc.  The demand for transparency goes beyond issues of personal updates.  Citizens exploit the new rule of openness and demand more information, more clarity, and more transparency from Big Media.  Blogger, Jeff Jarvis, believes transparency is missing in professional journalism.  He urges journalists to quickly adopt the law of openness, become transparent in their reporting, and build participatory connections to their constituents.   The new rule of openness and transparency gives the public an opportunity to keep professional journalists accountable. 


The hierarchical boundaries once clearly defining the role of creator and recipient of news information no longer exist.  The Internet gives the public the power to self-grant themselves the role of investigator, newsmaker, and journalist.  Together we are rewriting rules and creating a new vision of community, democracy, and journalism.  Although freedom and creativity feels refreshing and inspiring, this does not warrant anarchy of news information.  I welcome open conversation and participation, but not without balance.  There is immense value of citizen journalism because it offers new contexts, new interpretations of events, and demands more from Big Media.  However, professional journalists still need to exist.  Furthermore, nothing can replace a good editor who asks hard questions, makes suggestions, and brings the story together.   Together, we must find the balance between traditional journalism while encouraging transparency and accountability on all levels.  The more exposed citizens and the media become to each other, the more we will learn.

Check out the role transparency plays on social news sites at the blog Herald.