If you only have a…

If you only have a nail, every tool looks like a hammer. Like many bloggers I’ve been following the recent debate around Clay Shirky’s Power laws and blogs article with interest. At the same time, Lilia and Denham Gray have been carrying on a blog-conversation about blogs vs. threaded discussions and wikis.

Ross Mayfield adds some excellent observations about the multiple possible purposes for blogs from something resembling journalism to tools to support collaboration among tightly integrated teams.

Blogging software such as Radio or Traction has that wonderful characteristic of the best kinds of tools that can be warped and twisted to fit so many different needs. Think of Excel being used as a word processor or database manager, for example.

Couple that flexibility with lowering the barriers to entry so that you expand the universe of potential users by an order of magnitude or so and you get the blogging phenomenon. You don’t have to be any sort of technology expert to pick up a blogging tool and get started. Want to talk about your cats? Feel free. Want to become an instapundit? The name is taken, but there’s room for more if you have something worth saying. Want to improve knowledge sharing among a project team? That’s fine too.

The tools don’t put much shape on how you interpret them. That means you interpret and explain them from the perspective of your work. If the problem you have looks like a nail, than this must be a hammer I’ve just picked up. It’s the fundamental beauty of general purpose software running on general purpose computers. The limit is your imagination. No wonder the establishment is worried.

[McGee’s Musings]