Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Should I retire from blogging?
In 2003, I met Doc Searls at an EA conference where he inspired me to start sharing thoughts frequently and more publicly than I have in the past. Prior to this discussion, I had also read the Cluetrain Manifesto where notions such as marketplaces are conversations and hyperlinks subvert hierarchy resonated with me. In fact, I thought the 95 thesis was actually the Agile Manifesto done completely and with more integrity.
The need to share is kinda like getting hooked on chronic, only in that sharing in this regard helps others and makes the pusher also feel good as well. Lately though, I have been feeling mentally bankrupt. The theme of my blogging has always been to talk about the human aspects of technology where the focus isn't necessarily on product reviews, case studies or anything such thing but more on the behavior models in which I observe. One can think of my observations as an informal method and attempt to classify new emerging collaboration patterns and more important antipatterns that prevent things from being successful.
In order to understand my perspective, it probably requires defining what success means. In our culture, we have been finely tuned to think of success not in terms of things that are measurable but more in terms of how things are perceived. Ask any IT employee when was the last time they delivered a system where the business goal was to increase revenue but this goal didn't actually materialize but yet it was still deemed successful?
If hype is the plaque on the house of software, then what is the plaque of the blogosphere? Someone recently asked whether I was being facetious when I proposed the notion that lots of easy external conversations might have a detrimental impact on internal conversations. The funny thing is that I truly don't know. I do know that I am sincere in sharing my thoughts with folks and that I derive zero income from blogging and therefore am not marketing anything like so many others. The real question I have been asking myself over the last couple of days has not been about my own motives but how others perceive it.
I know that there are other bloggers like me in the blogosphere such as JT, Scott Mark and others who aren't blogging because it helps market our company, the products they make or services they have to sell. We are in fact, a scarce commodity in the blogosphere. Perception is a bitch as this is one thing that is difficult to control. For example, many folks automatically assume that I am talking about something at work when that is the absolute last thing on my mind. The topic at hand could be all about something my significant other said about her own software startup that intrigued me, it could be about a topic in an upcoming book in which folks may not know that I am not only a book author, but also a series editor for Springer Verlag or it could be simply something I found personally curious.
I would ask that if you happen to meet me in a work context, that you do not mention any outside relationship we may have had in terms of blogging. It is important to keep a clear separation between what is discussed at home vs. what is discussed at work. The conclusion that I have reached in terms of blogging is that the reason to stop will not be because of any lost interest as predicted by Gartner but because of the perceptions of others. Too many folks are getting it twisted which causes me to spend time on things that have no return on investment...