Went to the IPA strategy group debate last night, where the point of contention was - blogging is killing planning, as it promotes ideas without substance, rather than emphasising the value of quantitative and qualitative analysis. In short - standards are slipping, blogging is to blame.
For the motion was John Lowery, who gave a very impressive argument, well thought through, expertly and eruditely presented. Against the motion was John Grant, who had the best arguments, but no coherent way of presenting them, and his initial presentation was short on actual points. He chose instead to go for a negative line of attack, emphasising what it would mean if the audience voted against the motion. "What would it say about us?" he proclaimed. "Who gives a shit" was my muttered reply.
The debate opened up to the floor, with some good points made by some seemingly big game players, and one terrible point made by an Account Director from Delaney, who embodied why people with flair and nous think account men are pricks. I am an Account Man, I felt ashamed. Discussion continued and the key points that came out, which ultimately I think provide a good case for why blogging isn't killing planning were as follows,
- Blogging is a new comms medium, we don't understand its impact on individuals/groups.
- Blogging is throw away in its very nature, it is not a professional journal, more the brain farts of the people who write them.
- By having planners blogging and promoting their trade, more people will be interested in planning/have a forum to discuss thoughts with other planners/learn methods and rigours required to be a planner.
John Lowery's argument, whilst brilliant in its formulation, seemed to be based around a single brief posted on a single blog, by a single person (who remained nameless). Whilst Rob tells me that an good argument only needs one killer fact, and I agree, it seems a little drastic to call in to question your entire profession because of it.
The danger of John Lowery's argument is that if a blog is seen as the professional embodiment of its writer, that everything thats posted on it represents a mission statement, a golden idea, then no one would ever blog. He said that people should blog less, so the quality is better. This is a ridiculous contention, as it misunderstands the medium. It is spontaneous and by that nature sometimes poorly thought through. If a blogger treated his posts like an academic treated his journal entries, thought would be restricted to a few ideas, discussion would be muted and a canon of 'correct thinking' would be produced. Blogging represents a chance for everyone to say something and contribute to whatever they please. It is not press, it is not a bound training manual, it is not a paperback produced by the OUP. To assess it as it were, misses the point.