You Should Write Blogs
This is certainly the most important thing I’ll ever say in my blogs: YOU should write blogs.
Even if nobody reads them, you should write them. It’s become pretty clear to me that blogging is a source of both innovation and clarity. I have many of my best ideas and insights while blogging. Struggling to express things that you’re thinking or feeling helps you understand them better.
Reason #1: I’m too busy.
Some of the stuff you write as part of your ordinary workday will be interesting and useful to others. All you need to do is keep an eye out for things you’ve written that might be worth publishing. Then the “I’m too busy” argument just evaporates, because it’s almost no effort to dump some document or email rant or whatever into your blog.
Reason #2: I’m afraid to put my true thoughts on public record.
If you want people to read it, then be yourself. If you think of yourself as an important evangelist for the technological advances in your area, then you’re welcome to write press releases in your blog. And if you think of yourself as a domain expert, and you want to write technical manuals in your blog, then by all means do that.
But I don’t think that’s what people really want. People want what you want, and your real voice is the one they’ll hear most clearly. Not everyone is going to think like you, but I assure you that some people think just like you do, and they’ll be interested in the things you feel most compelled to talk about.
Reason #3: Nobody will read my blog.
Jacob’s paper was brilliant on several levels. He was able to distinguish configuration as a first-class problem, worthy of a paper â€” and this was back when there was almost no precedent for writing and circulating papers within Amazon. He made his point in an amusing and memorable way, writing with considerable style and intellectual force. And he articulated a long-term vision for fixing the problem. His goal wasn’t to solve it, but simply to increase general awareness of the problem. It was a little masterpiece.
And nobody read it.
Like anything else, word of mouth drives adoption for essays. Only a few people will read it at first: friends, and a few people who just stumble across it and think it looks potentially interesting. If the essay isn’t relevant enough, then people will just forget about it and move on. No big deal.
But if your essay strikes the right chord with enough people, it will eventually reach critical mass, and you’ll have effected change in the organization. It may not be a huge change, but think about it: getting an idea through to a thousand people, in such a way that they all remember it and more or less agree with you â€” this is no easy feat. You can’t do it with a single email, unless it’s a really controversial one, and then you’ll just be infamous. You can’t do it with a single public speech: only the folks in the room are likely to remember it. Trying to do it with hallway conversations doesn’t scale.
Reason #4: Blogging is narcissistic.
Duncan (his full name is James Duncan Davidson) was saying that at this convention, everyone is so modest that there’s sometimes a sort of ad-hoc competition to downplay yourself. Someone famous will say they’re amazed to be there, since they’re the dumbest person in the room, and someone else will earnestly say no, I am the dumbest person in the room, really, you don’t get it, I’m the dumbest. Pretty soon everyone wants to be the dumbest, and they vie against their brilliant peers to make the most eloquent case for being the dumbest one in the room. It’s the kind of paradoxical competition only a geek could love.
Duncan’s point was that the smartest people don’t feel very smart, and the cool ones check their egos at the door.
If you feel, as I do, that bloggers run the risk of seeming narcissistic, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write blogs! Just take the high road, don’t be narcissistic, and hopefully you won’t come across that way.