Toward the beginning of this year, blogging got a lot easier for me. Rather than look for things to blog about, I would just jot down something that I found interesting and then blog about it the next day. I would think about something in the middle of the night or even more frequently in the shower. When I got into the office in the morning, I would just start typing away having enough caffeine momentum out of my first cup of coffee.
The opportunity came up to blog on ZDNet and I thought that it would be easy. I just do what I was doing before, but I would have a bigger audience. Well, it has turned out a lot harder than I thought. Rather than being easier, I took their blogging guidelines to heart and endeavored to be as neutral and unbiased as possible. I also strove to have a theme that could encompass content management, but appeal to a wider audience. Rather than just write what comes to me, I started to look for subjects and read blogs for what might fit my chosen subject of Information Management. What had become a liberating activity had tied my frontal lobes into knots with inhibition. This is slowing my blogging substantially on both on ZDNet and on this blog.
Nothing illustrates this more than my latest blog on Microsoft’s initiative to spread its Open Office XML standard around the world. This started on the 4th of July with a conversation with Ian Howells, but it has taken me until today to write it. My natural inclination was to write the obvious, which is that Microsoft is scared of ODF and OpenOffice and it is using its massive power and installed base to force governments to reckon with it. Instead, I ended up doing a substantial amount of research on both sides of the argument to present a balanced view. I learned a lot about ODF and OOXML as well as XPS by writing a more thorough piece, but it took me a lot longer than expected.
Back in 1988, I made the mistake of trying to do enterprise sales myself rather than just supporting the sales people. As a result, I got a much better appreciation of what sales people did and how valuable they are to the sales process. Engineers in general are somewhat dismissive of what sales people do. Just read any Dilbert cartoon. Although I didn’t start with quite the same lowly opinion of sales people, I have come away with a greater appreciation of what journalists go through. I am clearly not a journalist nor am I an analyst.
Most people blogging on ZDNet are journalists, reporters or analysts whose full time job it is to analyze the industry and to comment on it. I have a great deal respect for most of those writing and particularly like Mary Jo Foley’s column on Microsoft and Dan Farber’s broad range of subjects. Some people are full time employees at vendor companies and some appear to even begin to hold an unbiased opinion on what it is they are writing about. I have a full time executive role, have been in the industry a lot longer and I am attempting to have an unbiased opinion.
One of my professors at Berkeley was Laura Nader, Ralph’s sister. I took an Anthropology course from her where she would constantly opine about the nuclear industry. Taking a similar belligerent attitude as Ralph Nader, she would say that it made no sense to try to be objective, because we all have opinions. She would then use a big chunk of the lecture to rail at nuclear power, rather than talk about cultural anthropology. She had some points to make about nuclear power, but I couldn’t have disagreed with her more on the importance of objectivity. I will keep slugging away at both blogs, but probably focus more on this one. However, I will try to keep the objectivity factor in mind, while keeping the spontaneity of what’s on top of my mind.
There! That only took 20 minutes to write rather than 3 days!