The Belgian Microsoft crowd (especially Kris) was once again so nice to bring together a number of bloggers, this time to meet Shel Israel (together with Robert Scoble author of "Naked Conversations") and Rick Segal (a blogging VC from Canada). I suggest you go buy and read the book yourself, it's a pleasant read and full of useful information.

Here are some highlights/quotes I noted:

- Get ready for Shel's next book: "Global Neighbourhoods", it's got to do with politics I think.

- "In the blogosphere you get passionate response, because it are the passionate people that blog."

- Second Life:
Rick sees "Second Life" mainly as an entertainment platform where people can escape from the real world and enjoy games, sex, gambling, etc. I'd like to add music and video to that list. Interesting to note is Starwood's initiative to build a virtual hotel in Second Life. The commercial rationale is simple: soon every hotel site will have link to it's Second Life version for you to choose the room you want. However, in general Rick does not see much of a long term advertising effect from Second Life. One more notable initiative he talked about was somebody using Second Life as a therapy for kids with autism.

- Blogs, sites, forums:
Very relevant quotes from Shel about tools: "The revolution is in the conversation, not in the tool." and "It's not about what we use, but about what we say."
... much clearer is difficult :)

- Mainstream media (MSN) versus blogs:
Traditional mainstream media can not cater to the individual interests of people. Every individual has a passion he or she wants to talk about and people want to be emotionally attached to news. So the conclusion is obvious ...

- Companies afraid to allow blogging:
Microsoft has proved that it can survive blogs without a formal policy, even better, they gained a lot from it. But most (all) companies are afraid to let their employees blog. What rules do we need? Companies are responsible for their values, products, offering, ethics, etc. Simply askbloggers to user their common sense, and if you make up some rules, have them made by people already blogging. DON'T LET THE LEGAL GUYS IN THE ROOM!

- Should all companies start a blog?
Blogging is not always the right channel, think before you start. Don't just do blogs, but ask yourself (or your customer) the right questions first: "What do you want to do?", "What is your objective", "Are you prepared to listen", etc. Then decide how to join the conversation. It could be a blog, it could be that you just listen and respond through comments when relevant.

But remember ... The conversations are already going on, so you'd better join it!

Evert-Jan from Duval-Guillaume taped the whole conversation, if we get it on line somewhere I'll post a link to it later.