I had a controversial discussion with my fellow office room mate Thorsten the other day about 'blogging' and its implications, which I wanted to share with you. The pivot point of this discussion was about whether or not it is a 'good idea' of exposing too many information about oneself to public. While that is certainly an important aspect of blogging, I would really like to put this nuance aside for a minute and talk about my motivation to blog first (and then get back to that particular aspect.)
For me this is really the fundamental question anyone thinking about starting a blog should ask him/her-self. What do I want to accomplish with blogging? There could be many valid reasons - of which many are related to what you want to blog about. Is it a business or private blog? Tons of good questions... however, this blog is not the typical 101 and as such I leave it to what other people wrote about the topic. Let your search engine of choice guide you.... Finding your way through the web, digging up related & interesting resources and getting involved with others is the α and Ω of blogging, if you do not embrace these aspects as an integral part of your blogging you're likely to fail.
Why do I blog?
First and foremost... I blog for myself. While that may sound strange at first, let me explain. I have a very challenging and demanding job and in this fast-paced business deadlines are aways ambitious, especially in strategic projects. Yet, this is the domain I've chosen for myself and in general I love my job!
As I talked about in a A Day in the Life being an Architect - modi operandi I see the routine of critical reflection and assessment as crucial to learn and grow. So, ever since my days of creative writing in college I really enjoyed the process of sketching out an essay and putting it down on paper. This is where I find my zen... get it all out and off my chest by just saying it out loud. That usually helps quite a bit in real life as well, right? Ultimately, there's someone listening to what you say who knows you or your situation and got some gentle words or helpful advice. That's the rewarding aspect of it... but it greatly depends on your readers/followers you got. I'll get back on that later...
There's more to it though... from the daily discussions I have with my fellow colleagues and peers I got to understand that I'm NOT on my own and that the challenges I face all day long are quite common in IT. (Guess that's why Dilbert is so popular! ;)) So, there's a chance that somebody can relate to what I blog in one way or the other. Personally, I've experienced many times that a blog I read just had the right message for me that I needed at the time. That it just clicked... that's the goal - to reach out to your readers in such a way as that they are willing to shift from spectator to contributer...
For me, what could be more thrilling and a better learning experience than to interact, discuss and collaborate with the entire world? Yes, technically we were able to connect the world and turn it into a global village. But what about the social aspect of #web20? Here it's all about: communication, communication, communication. ... Did I mentioned communication?
Interaction and Exposure
It's for sure a learning experience and I understand that people may be skeptical to expose that much of themselves in public. Some people are more introverted than others, yet 'still waters run deep' and as such some great ideas and interesting content are never published or fail in getting the attention they'd deserve. So, this is where I'm aiming at... I want to help in promoting a SDN in the times of Web 2.0: Need for Feed(-back) that lowers the entry barrier for blogging and social media. It's a learning experience for sure and you have to take it as such and deal with the fact that you may make mistakes along the way... in public...
But isn't that how we all learn? By making mistakes? What could be a better teacher as life itself? And you documenting that via blogging? #salespitch
So, if a hesitating person is convinced to pick up blogging, he/she may still struggle with multiple disciplines in the process such as writing (in English) and/or promoting the content. This is where multipliers fit into the picture. I remember my early days of blogging at SCN and I'm just grateful for the safe-guarding I received by the SCN staff (special thanks to Gali and Brian) and by our marketing lead (thanks Mary!)
On top of that, we have moderators at SCN that are experts in their domain and are more than capable of telling the good and the bad apart and make sure that the good stuff gets the spot-lights. So, I can honestly promote SCN as a great community to get started on blogging. As such, I'm trying to do my own share on promoting content that I find helpful and/or interesting. I try to talk people into trying it out and offer some safe-guarding.
That's what I've been doing as part of my job as an Architect in other domains for a long time - being a multiplier. As a core member of the Technology Competence Team (TCT) at SAP Custom Development our mission statement was all about evaluating new technologies and new trends and roll them into the organisation and then roll-out the best practices and success stories back to the community. And this is why I blog... I see it as a part of my role of being a multiplier!
So, before I call it a day I still owe you talking about the negative side of this public exposure, the digital footprint, the public profile. Sure, I cannot deny that and I do share some of the concerns about the lack of a "permanently delete" button for person-related content on the web. However, I came to the understanding that I have to be willing to take that aspect as an unavoidable circumstance and something that I would not empower to stop me from what I find right to pursue.
Instead, I try to turn it around... transform a weakness into a strength, and just make sure that the digital portrait of myself properly reflects me and my believes and values - to sharpen that picture. That does not mean that I'm completely exposing my most innerst self... by no means. I still think about what aspects/parts of my private life should be contained in my blog. Yet, it's still an authentic representation and I also feel that a blog should always have a personal touch as it really is about human interaction and not just print media.