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It might have been slow in coming, but it seems the world of the insurance industry is finally colliding with the Blogosphere.
Given the size of each, particularly the rapid growth of that online realm of those maintaining weblogs, posting various opinions, observations, screeds and sometimes useful information, the collision was probably inevitable.
There are said to be roughly 60 million blogs in existence today. According to Technorati Inc., a San Francisco-based company that collects data on various goings on in the Blogosphere, since March 2004 the number of blogs has doubled every five to seven months.
Some 150,000 new blogs are created each day, with more than 1.6 million daily postings.
The election season that just passed again demonstrated some of the power of blogging. Using blogs to spread information about candidates--the good and, more often, the bad or the wildly exaggerated or even the outright false--has become a routine arrow in campaign organizers' quivers.
Many marketers are also recognizing the value of blogs, using them as a way to spread "word of mouth" buzz about products or companies.
The downside is that folks with a beef against a company can just as easily use blogs to spread negative information about a business, again, not always all true.
It's a universe with no regard for borders, one that truly democratizes the process of publishing and does so nearly as fast as one can type. And it's one with little or no policing of the information that's placed there.
It's no wonder blogs would eventually be a force for the insurance industry to reckon with.
At the 2006 Insurance Forum last month in Chicago, Wayne Baliga, senior vp at Virginia Surety Co. Inc. and president and chairman of Aon Technical Insurance Services Inc., cited blogs as among the future trends the insurance industry needs to consider.
Among the potential blog-related issues he cited were copyright and trademark infringement, product or company disparagement, libel and defamation, publication of trade secrets and privacy right violations.
Still, while it's right for the industry to be wary of the potential exposures created by the explosion of blogging and other online developments, I think there's opportunity here as well. I think it would be a mistake to assume that blogs are solely the province of youthful hipsters or online bomb-throwers interested only in spewing angry rhetoric.
In fact, among the millions of blogs populating the Blogosphere, many actually provide useful information or serve to create a sense of community. I read several regularly, some related to the journalism profession, some written by favorite columnists, some posted by friends who use them as a vehicle for sharing their discoveries, experiences, opinions and passions.
I think about the talk in recent years that the insurance industry needs to communicate more effectively about what it does and the value it provides, and I'm thinking that a tool that can help share information and create a sense of community might be pretty darn useful.
I think about a lot of the confusion and anger the industry experienced following last year's Gulf Coast hurricanes--despite all its good works--and I'm thinking maybe a blog or two written by folks in the industry--instead of aimed at the industry--couldn't hurt.
World's are colliding here. And it's probably better to tap the energy that's released from that collision than to get caught in the middle. you're already keeping an industry-related blog, I'd like to hear from you. Please e-mail me you get a chance, and send me a link. I just might become a regular reader.