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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, May 16, 2004
PowerBlog Review: Chat Room LIVE

Editor's note: This is the fifteenth in our popular weekly series of PowerBlog Reviews of other weblogs...

Chat Room LIVE is written by Chris Seper, Cleveland Plain Dealer technology reporter. The blog resides on Cleveland.com, an Advance site and the online home of the Plain Dealer.

Chat Room LIVE
is rare among newspaper blogs: it's interesting, fresh, updated regularly, full of useful content, and -- addicting.

It's one of only a small handful of blogs I visit almost daily.

Chris says in his very first post that the blog was started as a way to enhance and expand the paper's coverage of technology. Since he writes in a conversational tone, it's easier to address subjects in informal ways. He's also able to address items that are newsworthy, but not significant enough for coverage in a major newspaper like the Plain Dealer.

Take, for example, his ongoing experiment with GMail, the new Google email service that adds advertisements to email messages. He offers to be his readers' "Google email guinea pig," by writing about it in the blog.

For those, like me, who are interested in GMail, but who don't have the time to try it out, Chat Room LIVE is quite useful. For instance, Chris reported in a recent post how GMail can undermine corporations' expensive email marketing efforts by placing competitors' ads in customer emails. This is an important point for any company that has spent big bucks building up an email list to grow customer loyalty:

"Many of the concerns about Gmail center on the invasion of consumer privacy. But e-marketing companies may also feel a little violated by Gmail, according to Thom Ruhe, president of the e-marketing firm Optiem LLC, which is based in Cleveland's Flats. Ruhe said putting ads in e-mail messages poses a threat to corporate e-mail marketing campaigns."
Chris plans to integrate his blog content and his regular newspaper column more deeply, using the blog to refer to column articles and vice versa. He points out this is an experiment right now.

It's an important experiment, and the results may be surprising. For instance, I read the blog regularly, but only read the column when pointed to it for longer substantive articles I'm interested in. For me, the blog has become a central filter of the newspaper's technology content.

One of the things I like best about Chat Room LIVE is the way it addresses technology from a business perspective, rather than a technical one. Over the years I've found there is a lot of unnecessary mystery surrounding technology. Some people like to make it more complicated than it needs to be. So I always look for writers who can cut through the insider lingo and razzamatazz obfuscation, and get to the heart of what technology is supposed to do in a business sense. Chat Room LIVE fits the bill.

Chris blogs from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Chat Room LIVE has been live on the Web since December 2003.

The Power: The Power of the Chat Room LIVE weblog is in its coverage of technology from a business perspective, and the wide range of topics the blog format allows it to cover -- well beyond a formal column.
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