Tudor Fruit Musings and The Tree of the Blogosphere

PushON | April 16th 2008

When I was looking at this lovely picture in a Search Engine Land article (drawn by Elliance) I noticed that an image of a ripe apple stood for “fresh content” and an image of a bird-pecked apple – for “user comments”. Both types of apples can be found on the Tree of the Blogosphere (see image).

Elliance's image of the Tree of the Blogosphere I instantly thought about a political treatise by one Early Tudor statesman. The treatise “Tree of Common Wealth” was written between 1509 and 1510 by Edmund Dudley; you may consult its electronic copy at Nicholas Bridgewater’s site (and also to try your hand at deciphering a Tudor text).

In his treatise Dudley uses the image of a fruit tree to illustrate the functioning of the State and its social classes. On the tree there are four fruits, each of them is wholesome and beautiful on the outside. Inside is a “perilous core”, “that may in no wise be touched, but of necessity be utterly refused, for they be venomous in the highest degree, that no cause will help them” (modern transcription – JS).

Indeed, as the search gurus (or Evangelists and Thought Leaders, to use the imagery of the Tree of the Blogosphere) tell us, a quality content is a must for a blog to survive and to draw attention from Search Engines and links from other sources. Furthermore, since the Blogosphere and Internet Marketing are both about engaging in the conversation, the healthy flow of valuable comments shows that the content is attracting interest (see, e.g., Blogging Tips from Avinash Kaushik and Eric Enge). Yet comments can also damage your brand or topic, so attracting comments means bargaining in for the feedback you may not want to hear.

Fear not, though, for Edmund Dudley underlined that each fruit from the Tree of Common Wealth must be consumed with a special sauce, which, in his times, was “nothing else but the dread of god”. With the Tree of the Blogosphere, what sauce is there to sweeten the sour taste of comments that may befall your shiny quality content? In my opinion, it should be a blend of Brand Management and Business Development (whether we speak of a large corporate blog or a small business or individual blog). As some case studies show, the bitter comments befall the content (or product) that fails to engage with the audience (customers). However, for a company that doesn’t shun away from critique and aspires to make the best use of available and emerging marketing strategies, the Tree of the Blogosphere can bring fabulous and very tasty fruits.

As a matter of fact, the topic of how to handle the taste of the “perilous core” (=comments and criticism) and how not to overindulge in the sweet fruit (=content and PR) was exactly the subject of the KMP’s “Blogging for Business” seminar. (Roy wrote about it previously). So, in the end I may be not entirely wrong in drawing parallels between the early 16th c. and early 21st c. uses of the fruit imagery. In any case, the year when this treatise was begun is 1509, so it’s great to see how historical sources become useful almost 500 hundred years later.

Just one thing: it’s interesting to see a green apple of Technorati (“Brand Awareness”) lying under the tree. I wonder about the meaning…