Blogs, until recently almost exclusively the domain of geeks, alternative media, and celebrities, are turning into the cyber equivalent of the corner office. On July 7, Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, started one, discussing the extent to which the government should regulate telecommunications. His initial post drew more than 30,000 readers in its first week.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is considering starting a blog, says a company spokesperson. Filmmaker Michael Moore began a blog on July 4 to promote his controversial new movie, Fahrenheit 9/11.

While celeb blogs typically revolve around personal crises and hair vs. the considerably less sexy Linux and routers, business execs’ blogs are no less successful in rallying the faithful. In fact, these blogs, which now account for a handful of the estimated 20,000 blogs on the Web, could eventually grab a lion’s share of the Internet audience, says Chris Charron, an analyst with tech consultancy Forrester Research in Boston.

The business world’s posting pioneers say blogging helps them network, boost sales, and even lobby — at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. “There’s no fundamental difference between giving a keynote speech in Shanghai in front of 30,000 people and doing a blog read by several million people,” Schwartz says. A wider audience isn’t the only potential advantage a blog offers over a speech. A writer can tailor his message to a particular audience on a moment’s notice.

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