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June 22, 2005


Chris Lesser

Blogging happened with politics wayyy before it happened with bikes. It hasn't yet happend with bikes, in fact. Or to whatever degree it has happened, it's nowhere near the level/impact blogging has had with politics.


The impact of blogging on politics? You're right, it's happened. But what impact has it had? It's crept its way into mainstream coverage as reporters type, "bloggers say XXXX." But we're still left with the same crappy conditions. At least in the bike industry, we now have locks that can't be picked with a BIc.

Jonathan Maus

Blogging has definitely had an impact on politics...and while blogs have mobilized voters and influenced certain topics, they haven't made any politicians on the national level more transparent (at least not that I know about).

For instance there's no political blogging equivalent of Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun; Bob Lutz, CEO of GM; or Rick Edelman, CEO of Edelman PR. In these cases you have the top guys at major corporations joining the global conversation without the filter of press release or the PR department. That's pretty cool.

I can only hope that the bike industry follows suit. How about a John Burke blog? or Tony Lo? or Mike Sinyard? That would rock.


Richard Sachs blogs, does that count?

Tim Jackson

That Masi fella blogs too. That should count for something... right?

I think that the relevance of blogging can no longer be disputed. Since the recent article in BRaIn, I have been getting many comments and compliments. More importantly though, I have been getting questions about how to start blogging. Internally here, our Warranty Manager is lobbying to start a blog just for dealer and consumer support issues. Externally, I have had inquiries from retailers and manufacturers both, seeking advice on how to get started. Our industry is plagued with "me too" copy-cat issues, but this is one issue where I adamantly hope the copy-catting goes crazy.

It can only help us, not hurt us.

Tim Jackson
Brand Manager
Masi Bicycles

Chris Lesser

Richard Sachs intermittently posts old emails on his blog and generates almost zero comments. I don't think that counts towards much in terms of creating a conversation, but maybe towards promoting his own brand/PR.

And yes, Blogs saved us from the ravages of Bic pens everywhere. What other examples of blogs significantly impacting the bike biz are there out there?

And yes, Michael, still the same crappy conditions in the media at large, you're preaching to the choir on that one. But blogs' impact on politics and the media goes well beyond "bloggers say XXXX" (Although cable TV news has demonstrated a consistently hackneyed approach to trying to co-opt blogs, as the Daily Show has so aptly pointed out)

What impact have blogs had on politics? Remember Dan Rather? He was this TV reporter guy who produced a scathing report on George Dubya’s National Guard record right before one of the closest elections in American political history based on questionable sources. Whether or not you believe the allegations to be true, it was bad reporting and Rather was called on it. And the traditional media would have caught up to him eventually, maybe before the election, maybe afterwards, but it was weblog wildfire fueled by conservative and liberal bloggers alike that overtook the story within days and ruined what was an important issue for democrats, arguably impacting the course of the election at a critical moment.

Not only do blogs’ impact on the media and politics carry far more gravitas than the bike biz (U.S. politics in general and the election of the most important position on the planet in particular versus defective bicycle locks), but they've also been at it well before the Bictonite fiasco.

IE: companies were still spec’ing cantilever brakes on mountain bikes when Joshua Micha Marshall started Talking Points Memo, a liberal political blog. He now gets U.S. Congressmen to guest blog on his site. Among countless other blogs across the political spectrum, Marshall and his contemporaries all are part of the conversation. Moreover, both presidential candidates as well as a number of primary candidates all maintained blogs. To make a giant leap of comparison, what bike industry execs maintain a blog? Or even what major bike brands even have a PR blog?

Blogging as a brand-building/PR tool is a relatively new blog application, in the bike biz or elsewhere. And debating political points and reporting news is a lot different than trying to hock your company’s wares (I mean, develop a public face for your company and soften its corporate edge) are two different animals entirely.

The Piton, the erstwhile blog of the outdoor industry, is a better example of any blog yet done in the bike industry, whether for a company’s PR or as a general forum for news and information. To Michael’s point, “blogging is making truth more apparent,” granted. But for better or for worse, blogs have significantly greater impact on politics, the media and even the outdoor industry than the bike biz. So far at least.

Tim Jackson

Wow, those are incredible comments! I don't know if I even agree with it all, but it is still fantastic commentary.

It is certainly my sincere desire to see more blogging happen in the bike industry, in whatever form it takes. The bigger and broader the conversation, the more exposure the industry and sport will receive.

Who knows if anybody at the top of one our bigger players will get involved. However, I think it is only a matter of time before it does happen.

So few of us are blogging now, but I see that changing in the near future. I am going out on a limb and on the record here; blogging is going to happen in the industry and become a useful and much used tool.

Tim Jackson
Brand Manager
Masi Bicycles

Chris Lesser

One more thought: The White House grants bloggers press credentials. Will Interbike? They haven't before. Why? Because there haven't been any.

Jonathan Maus

Political blogs and bike blogs are like apples and oranges. It's not a fair comparison.

The reason political blogs have so much power is because there are hundreds of them, and they're all connected with trackbacks, blogrolls and comments. This interconnectivity allows posts to spread virally and it's what makes the blogosphere so much more powerful than websites and even other forms of consumer generated media (like forums, chat rooms, etc.). This blog's impact cannot reach its full potential until there are more like-minded blogs to link to.

This blog is the only bike industry blog not run by company representatives (like the Surly, Masi, and Salsa blogs) and whose main purpose is to bring up issues pertaining to the bike industry that aren't being discussed anywhere else.

The subject matter also plays a part. There's a sense of importance and passion for the truth that fuels political blogs. People (industry or not) just don't feel the same about bikes.

Chris said: "What other examples of blogs significantly impacting the bike biz are there out there? Here are some. Maybe not too significant, but they're a start:

  • Surly sold out of a product announced on their blog in 51 hours.
  • Search results for bikes and parts are full of blogs.
  • Blogs have recently mobilized votes to sign Carlton Reid's petition, quickly spread news about races (TransIowa, SSWC), and have increased awareness for cyclists killed by cars.
  • Tim's Masi Guy blog is soliciting feedback from users about upcoming products.
About The Piton...The Piton's anonymity was a huge reason for its success. Personally, I'm not into airing dirty laundry and gossip here on JRA (although I will post the occassional rant), but I would love for something like the Piton to get started in the bike industry. So, who's game? (Here's a place to get started, http://www.invisiblog.com>Invisiblog. And check the http://www.eff.org/Privacy/Anonymity/>Electronic Frontier Foundation.)

And Tim, I don't think saying blogs will "become a useful too" is going out on a limb!

Chris Lesser

"blogging is making truth more apparent...who knows why it happened with bikes before it happened with politics."


"The impact of blogging on politics? You're right, it's happened. But what impact has it had? It's crept its way into mainstream coverage as reporters type, "bloggers say XXXX." But we're still left with the same crappy conditions. At least in the bike industry, we now have locks that can't be picked with a BIc."

That's what started this whole thing, that's what I was addressing. Bike blogs are in their infancy.

And you're right, those bullet points aren't too significant, but they are a start.


Sorry for the late reply... didn't see this until now.

Well it appears that Chris is much more well versed in blogs than I am.

But I'm starting to have a hard time distinguishing between blogs and simply the impact of the internet and quick communication. Was it blogs that took Dan Rather down? Or was it the ability to quickly communicate and research across the country immediately and effectively. I'm asking because I don't know. Sure, email's been around for some time, but I'm speculating that it was the blog leading the website forums through email and easily searchable information that brought the news anchor's mistake into the public eye.

So if that's the case, I'm going to say that that combination of electronic communication has had an effect on product managers in the bike business. I've seen tire mold information posted online. I've watched a shoe company generate feedback for their yet-to-be-produced model. So to answer Chris' question-- not necessarily blogs, but the computer interface and the direct feedback it offers has drastically altered the types of products available to the consumer, which I think has a better effect on society than the removal of a news anchor who made a mistake.

When people have better products to use, they ride their bikes more often. And that makes for a better world.

Tim Grahl

I agree with Michael in that it's not necessarily just blogs that has this effect, however blogs happen to currently be the easiest way for people to publish their thoughts. Someone with basically no computer skills can set up a blog and start publishing on the web in a matter of minutes thanks to tools like blogger.com.

I think the future will be found in RSS. I currently am pulling 100 different RSS feeds into my aggregator which means I am able to consume a whole lot more information through RSS then if I had to actually visit each individual site. So although blogs are the easiest way to publish RSS feeds, RSS will continue to grow (IE7).

And in response to Tim Jackson's early post "It can only help us, not hurt us"... that's only true if you have nothing to hide. Transparency is what makes blogs work and only ethical companies can afford to be transparent.

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy

"Only ethical companies can afford to be transparent...", wow, I love that. I'm going to have to find a way to use that a lot.

There is a lot of truth in that statement though. Will companies with "something to hide" be involved in the broader dialog? How about companies with something to protect?

Jonathan and I have commented in conversations many times that our belief is that as more people begin to become involved in this process of dispersing and sharing information and ideas, we will all ultimately benefit. The more people having the dialog, the more likely there will be more people listening. What's cool about a forum like this is that somebody who doesn't work in the industry can get some insight into what is or could be happening. For me, if I weren't working in the industry, these discussions would be thrilling to read. Admittedly, as I said to Jonathan today, that little fact might be one of the things keeping some people from saying anything.

Tim Jackson
Brand Manager
Masi Bicycles


it seems that many of the Political Bloggers are on the payroll somewhere as journalists....

while most Bicycle Bloggers are just people who like to blog about what is important to them

the thing that irks me about the News Media...
is how they use the term "bloggers"
they just use that term like all "blogs" are political
like all "blogs" are a viable source of information

blogs are as diverse as the culture of cycling....
by all means is a commuter... the same as a racer... the same as a bmxer.... or a retro grouch....etc.. etc... etc..

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