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Why Blog?

In the past few weeks I’ve been asked several times by journalists, “Why Blog?”. The question is a fair one. Most suspect it infringes on work that should be getting done or fun that should be being had. Some regard it as bizarrely self indulgent. Others look on it with a certain suspicion, as if we ‘citizen journalists’ are pulling readers from their publications.

In answering the question let me give you a few caveats. First, I generally don’t blog during working hours – I’m just too busy. Second, my blog is purely personal with a business bent. It’s not sponsored by my employer, Sun – although I could have much more easily and inexpensively taken advantage of our corporate blog platform. Third, this is my second, more successful (by my own terms) attempt at blogging. And fourth, I don’t subscribe to the notion of “citizen journalists” – I’m guided in my writing by neither the professional reporting rigor or writing standards of a working hack. It therefore seems unfair to co-opt the term. With that said and done, here is why I blog…

1. I love to write. Just love it. And this is a great vehicle for doing just that. Pure and simple. I don’t do all my writing here. But I do do some of my worst.

2. I’m intrigued by the unique twist blogging affords the blogger to engage in a dialogue with really smart people. I get to explore and share ideas – and for my time I get a return in the form of emails and comments. The investment is a small price to pay and I get a much accelerated thinking cycle for a much smaller time investment than that available to me via speaking opportunities and the like. My blog is also a forcing mechanism, driving me to think harder about issues and ideas.

3. My blog has become an archive of sorts. I blog to create a little library of ideas, links and content. Better here than buried on my hard disk. Here the links quickly triangulate other ideas and thinking.

4. This is the most effective electronic medium to stay in touch with my team, friends and professional colleagues. I simply point them to my thoughts and ideas. Emails get buried in the daily avalanche. I’m not sure that anything in hard copy can find them in our flexible office environment. I’m also finding that I’m getting thoughts and comments from across the organization. This is interesting. Email scales well vertically. Blogs scale anyway.

5. The blogsphere will only survive if people write as well as lurk. I genuinely believe it is going to transform my profession – communications; and industry – technology. As my big boss says, better to be the windshield than the bug. So, to be the windshield – sort of.

Harry Eyres crafted an interesting piece on writing journals for the FT Weekend Edition a couple of weeks back with the great title ‘A kind of manure kept in a box‘. The FT Weekend edition has become one of my favorite reads. He poses the question ‘Does journal-writing foster a sterile self -absorption that is simply a waste of the writer’s time?’. Good question for those journaling in their Moleskine. Eyres answer is no.

My journals are not intended for publication – in fact they contain highly sensitive material I would not want anyone else to read. But though they are private pages, they form the background to much of the more public writing I do.

Ok, from time-to-time our blogs are a little self-indulgent. But on the web the blog/journal is an open door and fire starter. More than anything, and like Eyres, my blog forms a backdrop to my thinking.

The question that quickly follows “Why blog?” is “What’s the benefit”. I’ll answer that one soon…

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