When One Nation Under Blog by David Wallace comes out next month, the national publicity push, catchy marketing gimmicks that pose questions like, “Will bloggers decide our next president?” will probably sell a few copies during election season. With blogging still a relatively new and hot topic to the mainstream and political blogs constantly making the news because of breaking scandal stories and scoops on traditional media, people will probably buy this book.

Its framework is a call to action for bloggers to adhere to a code of ethics – 15 items Wallace suggests in the subtext of each chapter heading. They are solid proposals and serve as a nice framework for the discussion of a formalized standard for bloggers.

The book is a good, easy read and does contain a handful of nice case study reminders of how blogs have shaped the professional and personal lives of notable people like Trent Lott, Pete Rose, Martha Stewart, Heather Armstrong of Dooced fame and more.

I originally wrote a negative-leaning review of the book, some of which is below. The reason I changed a bit of my perspective is because I got a chance to talk to Wallace about it. Being cursed with the inability to edit or censor myself, I essentially told him I was concerned about the effect of his book on the mainstream – the non-bloggers – because their takeaway would be that all bloggers are rumor-mongers, lack ethics and are just out to get people.

I think the blogging community will refuse to embrace it because Wallace is not a blogger himself, but a politician scorned by them. He spends 1/3 of the book talking about how badly he was treated by bloggers as mayor of Sugar Land, Texas, 1/3 proposing that if blogs existed years ago our greatest heroes would be considered little more than scum and the other 1/3 providing case studies and the call to action.

So, aside from the facts that with no governmental jurisdiction on the Web and every crowd has a couple of nut cases, enforcement of such a code of ethics is impossible, the suggestion comes from someone with little credibility in the blogosphere.

Those concerns aired, Wallace told me the intent of the book is to start the conversation about ethical standards for bloggers, which is something I would fully embrace, and a conversation I would love for us all to participate in. I’ve said before that social media, including blogging, is still in a period of adoption. Think of the early 1900s when the automobile first came out. Roads weren’t paved, there were no white or yellow lines, stop lights, yield signs and so on. What we’re doing now in social media and blogging is putting down the lines, defining what’s fair, right and good for both individuals and businesses. Why not use Wallace’s book as a starting point for some ethics in blogging?

David Wallace is a former medium-sized town mayor and a former member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council. He also served as founding treasurer and director for the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, working for the former British Prime Minister. He is not a blogger, unless you count the one that goes along with the book that currently redirects to his personal site. He’s a smart guy and one who has some experience as the subject of blogs.

While that would translate to a book about Twittering during conferences written by Sarah Lacy, or, for our mainstream friends, for O.J. Simpson to write a book about civil court, he still raises some valid points and opens up a discussion is high time we have.

Be forewarned: Bloggers will probably have a slight distaste for this book once they’re finished with it. I’m a blogger. I try to write my blog with a healthy dose of journalistic principles, a mindful eye on ethical standards and the goal of being accurate in my representation of facts, fair in my representation of opinions. So when a politician who comes off as not liking or trusting bloggers, seems to lump us all into a pile with unscrupulous political propaganda machines and does so in a published book that he doesn’t seem to have the credibility to write, I’m going to shoot more holes in it than a Republican at a gun club target.

I’m also worried about it’s effect on the mainstream folks who don’t yet understand blogging or that not all bloggers are out to get folks. Thus, I think we as the blogging community need to be aware of this book and help Wallace educate that audience about us.

But the negatives aside, read the book and let’s start the conversation. It will make us better.

One Nation Under Blog is scheduled to hit bookstores in October. It is published by Brown Books Publishing Group.


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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

    I would agree that we're in the process of defining the new social contract within the online space. More and more brands are turning to social media as a way to compete with their larger competitors (I know because I did it). But “some” bloggers (not all), fail to realize that there are certain 'rules of engagement,' if you will, that need to be followed.

    Maybe the book is a good starting point…(I don't know, I obviously haven't read it. Yet!) But I will say, I'm not sure how I feel about it coming from someone who's not a blogger himself. It appears to me that from what you're saying he's had nothing but bad encounters with bloggers and so he's paint us in a negative light. Is that really fair to do? No. But I'm up for the challenge and discussion because there are some good stand-up bloggers out there; I've met them personally just this week!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Ricardo, great points as usual. I have the same reservations about Wallace's point of view, but have spoken to him and know he has the right purpose in mind. Give the book a chance and a read. Beneath the uneasiness you might feel about the qualifications of the author, there are some very strong recommendations that we should all consider.

  • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

    I would agree that we're in the process of defining the new social contract within the online space. More and more brands are turning to social media as a way to compete with their larger competitors (I know because I did it). But “some” bloggers (not all), fail to realize that there are certain 'rules of engagement,' if you will, that need to be followed.

    Maybe the book is a good starting point…(I don't know, I obviously haven't read it. Yet!) But I will say, I'm not sure how I feel about it coming from someone who's not a blogger himself. It appears to me that from what you're saying he's had nothing but bad encounters with bloggers and so he's paint us in a negative light. Is that really fair to do? No. But I'm up for the challenge and discussion because there are some good stand-up bloggers out there; I've met them personally just this week!

  • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

    I would agree that we're in the process of defining the new social contract within the online space. More and more brands are turning to social media as a way to compete with their larger competitors (I know because I did it). But “some” bloggers (not all), fail to realize that there are certain 'rules of engagement,' if you will, that need to be followed.

    Maybe the book is a good starting point…(I don't know, I obviously haven't read it. Yet!) But I will say, I'm not sure how I feel about it coming from someone who's not a blogger himself. It appears to me that from what you're saying he's had nothing but bad encounters with bloggers and so he's paint us in a negative light. Is that really fair to do? No. But I'm up for the challenge and discussion because there are some good stand-up bloggers out there; I've met them personally just this week!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Ricardo, great points as usual. I have the same reservations about Wallace's point of view, but have spoken to him and know he has the right purpose in mind. Give the book a chance and a read. Beneath the uneasiness you might feel about the qualifications of the author, there are some very strong recommendations that we should all consider.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Ricardo, great points as usual. I have the same reservations about Wallace's point of view, but have spoken to him and know he has the right purpose in mind. Give the book a chance and a read. Beneath the uneasiness you might feel about the qualifications of the author, there are some very strong recommendations that we should all consider.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    I haven't read the book yet, but what the blogosphere has to know is that his experiences in the book will not directly be related to every blogger. It's easy to stereotype a large group based off of bad experiences but I'm sure in his book he highlights how it had affected him in a negative manner. I bet a lot of people (especially politicians) could agree with his view points, as well as people across multiple industries. Bloggers are open to their opinions and that is why we enjoy reading them on a consistent basis. I do agree with the point that there should be some kind of unwritten ethics code that bloggers follow. It may seem like it takes away from the concept of blogging, but having standards and not crossing the line will be more beneficial in most situations.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Agreed Craig. It will be interesting to see how the blogosphere reacts to the book. I hope it at least opens the conversation on ethical standards. Thanks for the continued commenting!

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    I haven't read the book yet, but what the blogosphere has to know is that his experiences in the book will not directly be related to every blogger. It's easy to stereotype a large group based off of bad experiences but I'm sure in his book he highlights how it had affected him in a negative manner. I bet a lot of people (especially politicians) could agree with his view points, as well as people across multiple industries. Bloggers are open to their opinions and that is why we enjoy reading them on a consistent basis. I do agree with the point that there should be some kind of unwritten ethics code that bloggers follow. It may seem like it takes away from the concept of blogging, but having standards and not crossing the line will be more beneficial in most situations.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    I haven't read the book yet, but what the blogosphere has to know is that his experiences in the book will not directly be related to every blogger. It's easy to stereotype a large group based off of bad experiences but I'm sure in his book he highlights how it had affected him in a negative manner. I bet a lot of people (especially politicians) could agree with his view points, as well as people across multiple industries. Bloggers are open to their opinions and that is why we enjoy reading them on a consistent basis. I do agree with the point that there should be some kind of unwritten ethics code that bloggers follow. It may seem like it takes away from the concept of blogging, but having standards and not crossing the line will be more beneficial in most situations.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Agreed Craig. It will be interesting to see how the blogosphere reacts to the book. I hope it at least opens the conversation on ethical standards. Thanks for the continued commenting!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Agreed Craig. It will be interesting to see how the blogosphere reacts to the book. I hope it at least opens the conversation on ethical standards. Thanks for the continued commenting!

  • amzolt

    Not only should we bloggers be fair and unbiased in our efforts, you've demonstrated those qualities in this post!

    Thanks for the heads-up on the book…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, sir. I shoot for that.

  • amzolt

    Not only should we bloggers be fair and unbiased in our efforts, you've demonstrated those qualities in this post!

    Thanks for the heads-up on the book…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

  • amzolt

    Not only should we bloggers be fair and unbiased in our efforts, you've demonstrated those qualities in this post!

    Thanks for the heads-up on the book…

    ~ Alex from Our Evolution

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thank you, sir. I shoot for that.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thank you, sir. I shoot for that.

  • http://www.socialmediawiz.com Shailesh Ghimire

    I think it's completely fair that someone who doesn't blog give bloggers some constructive criticism. While I will refrain from saying anything until I read the book – if I do that is – I do tire of the folks who say “today's media would hammer never allow us to produce another Lincoln” or something of that sort. First of all I go back to Harry Truman's comment “if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen”. Second of all if you demonstrate competence, straightforwardness and a sincere desire to be a public servant – I just can't imagine how any blogger could ever derail your plans. Seriously.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Fair and valid point that needed to be made. Thanks for the perspective. I think Wallace certainly qualifies as someone with the desire to be a public servant. And I think the book's purpose is well-intended. I hope everyone responds to it accordingly.

  • http://www.socialmediawiz.com Shailesh Ghimire

    I think it's completely fair that someone who doesn't blog give bloggers some constructive criticism. While I will refrain from saying anything until I read the book – if I do that is – I do tire of the folks who say “today's media would hammer never allow us to produce another Lincoln” or something of that sort. First of all I go back to Harry Truman's comment “if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen”. Second of all if you demonstrate competence, straightforwardness and a sincere desire to be a public servant – I just can't imagine how any blogger could ever derail your plans. Seriously.

  • http://www.socialmediawiz.com Shailesh Ghimire

    I think it's completely fair that someone who doesn't blog give bloggers some constructive criticism. While I will refrain from saying anything until I read the book – if I do that is – I do tire of the folks who say “today's media would hammer never allow us to produce another Lincoln” or something of that sort. First of all I go back to Harry Truman's comment “if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen”. Second of all if you demonstrate competence, straightforwardness and a sincere desire to be a public servant – I just can't imagine how any blogger could ever derail your plans. Seriously.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Fair and valid point that needed to be made. Thanks for the perspective. I think Wallace certainly qualifies as someone with the desire to be a public servant. And I think the book's purpose is well-intended. I hope everyone responds to it accordingly.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Fair and valid point that needed to be made. Thanks for the perspective. I think Wallace certainly qualifies as someone with the desire to be a public servant. And I think the book's purpose is well-intended. I hope everyone responds to it accordingly.

  • http://www.davidgordonwallace.com David Wallace

    Jason – I truly appreciate and respect your comments. I also enjoyed our conversation last week. As I mentioned to you in the call, you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” when it comes to journalistic integrity. Thank you.

    When I was mayor and saw a need to educate our youth on internet safety and the growing concern of child predators, I reached out to the DOJ, AG's Office, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children … and a whole host of other resources. As you know, the program was effective and has now been rolled out to about 1,200 cities accross America. However, the best part of the program is not the PD “sting operation” … it is not going into every 7th grade class … it is educating the parents … many of which do not think it would ever affect their family or their community. They need to get their heads out of the sand!

    In an era that many older generations do not understand or comprehend the value and power of blogs and the Internet, I also hope that the book can be a tool to educate the parents / grandparents on its impact / strength / unintended consequences. These folks must have a comprehension …. or at least a starting point … in an effort to start the dialogue with their children and grandchildren.

    Jason … again, thank you for the “honest” assessment.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks David, for the comments and for the work. The book is certainly a good conversation started and I hope it does what you've set out for it to do.

      And thank you for receiving the honest assessment as constructively as you have. I'm cursed with the inability to mask my opinions well. Sometimes it rubs folks the wrong way.

      Glad we could talk as well. Good luck with the book.

  • http://www.davidgordonwallace.com David Wallace

    Jason – I truly appreciate and respect your comments. I also enjoyed our conversation last week. As I mentioned to you in the call, you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” when it comes to journalistic integrity. Thank you.

    When I was mayor and saw a need to educate our youth on internet safety and the growing concern of child predators, I reached out to the DOJ, AG's Office, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children … and a whole host of other resources. As you know, the program was effective and has now been rolled out to about 1,200 cities accross America. However, the best part of the program is not the PD “sting operation” … it is not going into every 7th grade class … it is educating the parents … many of which do not think it would ever affect their family or their community. They need to get their heads out of the sand!

    In an era that many older generations do not understand or comprehend the value and power of blogs and the Internet, I also hope that the book can be a tool to educate the parents / grandparents on its impact / strength / unintended consequences. These folks must have a comprehension …. or at least a starting point … in an effort to start the dialogue with their children and grandchildren.

    Jason … again, thank you for the “honest” assessment.

  • http://www.davidgordonwallace.com David Wallace

    Jason – I truly appreciate and respect your comments. I also enjoyed our conversation last week. As I mentioned to you in the call, you “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” when it comes to journalistic integrity. Thank you.

    When I was mayor and saw a need to educate our youth on internet safety and the growing concern of child predators, I reached out to the DOJ, AG's Office, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children … and a whole host of other resources. As you know, the program was effective and has now been rolled out to about 1,200 cities accross America. However, the best part of the program is not the PD “sting operation” … it is not going into every 7th grade class … it is educating the parents … many of which do not think it would ever affect their family or their community. They need to get their heads out of the sand!

    In an era that many older generations do not understand or comprehend the value and power of blogs and the Internet, I also hope that the book can be a tool to educate the parents / grandparents on its impact / strength / unintended consequences. These folks must have a comprehension …. or at least a starting point … in an effort to start the dialogue with their children and grandchildren.

    Jason … again, thank you for the “honest” assessment.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks David, for the comments and for the work. The book is certainly a good conversation started and I hope it does what you've set out for it to do.

    And thank you for receiving the honest assessment as constructively as you have. I'm cursed with the inability to mask my opinions well. Sometimes it rubs folks the wrong way.

    Glad we could talk as well. Good luck with the book.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks David, for the comments and for the work. The book is certainly a good conversation started and I hope it does what you've set out for it to do.

    And thank you for receiving the honest assessment as constructively as you have. I'm cursed with the inability to mask my opinions well. Sometimes it rubs folks the wrong way.

    Glad we could talk as well. Good luck with the book.

  • http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com Mark Khoo

    It's amazing, I just did a post worrying that the blogosphere might reach the extreme end of a spectrum whereby without any guidelines, blogs simply become tabloids to gain more advertising revenue from advertisers, similar to yellow journalism to increase viewership.

    It's great to know that there's this discussion going on, i tot i was the only one going nuts about it!!!:)

    http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/th

  • http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com Mark Khoo

    It's amazing, I just did a post worrying that the blogosphere might reach the extreme end of a spectrum whereby without any guidelines, blogs simply become tabloids to gain more advertising revenue from advertisers, similar to yellow journalism to increase viewership.

    It's great to know that there's this discussion going on, i tot i was the only one going nuts about it!!!:)

    http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/th

  • http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com Mark Khoo

    It's amazing, I just did a post worrying that the blogosphere might reach the extreme end of a spectrum whereby without any guidelines, blogs simply become tabloids to gain more advertising revenue from advertisers, similar to yellow journalism to increase viewership.

    It's great to know that there's this discussion going on, i tot i was the only one going nuts about it!!!:)

    http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/th

  • http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com Mark Khoo

    It's amazing, I just did a post worrying that the blogosphere might reach the extreme end of a spectrum whereby without any guidelines, blogs simply become tabloids to gain more advertising revenue from advertisers, similar to yellow journalism to increase viewership.

    It's great to know that there's this discussion going on, i tot i was the only one going nuts about it!!!:)

    http://oldskoolmark.wordpress.com/2008/09/22/th

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