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January 03, 2006

Udell - Blogs as diaries of our professional lives

Jon Udell muses about blogs as diaries of our professional lives.  He notices that blogs can serve as resumes, as autobiographies of our career growth, as records of our paths though our professional lives.  Jon notes:

Most blogs are more personal than professional in the sense I'm defining here. Of those that identify themselves as professional, many are pseudonymous. Of those that use true names, surprisingly few seem to take the approach I envision: narrating the course of a career, articulating its public agenda, writing its permanent record.

Jon asks for reasons that this isn't happening.  One possibility is that people haven't thought of it yet.  Another is that it's a bad idea - which leads to Jon's question - what are the obstacles, or consequences, that might make these kinds of blogs difficult.  Here are my own answers to that question:
  • Keeping a blog that complements one's work life but lives separate from it is complicated.  I blog here about all aspects of my work, including personal opinions about technology and products.  I promote my expertise and my experience.  But it does feel odd sometimes to be keeping a blog that mentions a lot about my work at Harvard Business School, but not having that hosted at or affiliated with HBS.  Is my primary responsibility here to myself or to my employer? Is there a difference?  Hosting at HBS would presumably change the nature of the commentary somewhat, as well as not be "portable" to any future jobs I might have.  Finally, I do this on my own time -- time taken away from either my home life or my HBS work. Neither one can afford the distraction!  So....there are issues about the doing of it.

  • Do we really want every thought we ever had, every mistake we've ever made, to live on in a public forum?  As a programmer, have you ever looked back at some code you wrote a while ago and said "man...I can' t believe I wrote this piece of crap!"  And then you're quietly happy that you had this chance to clean it up  it before someone else looks at it.  We've all screwed up, and we learn from the mistakes and we become better for it.  But, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'd choose to have every error in judgment or early-on-the-learning-curve mistake gloriously chronicled in my own weblog.  Truthfully, I haven't found that much in my blog so far that, a year later, makes me cringe.  But I bet it'll happen.
So why do I still do this?  I think that some folks operate in a public sphere where maintaining a high profile, and promoting themselves is key to success. Aside from my HBS work,  I write for various publications and websites, write vendor-sponsored white papers and tutorials, and speak and consult to businesses and institutions worldwide. I enjoy helping people solve problems, and it turns out I can make a pretty good living at it, too. 

Blogging is an important component of my ongoing "low-intensity" marketing campaign, and furthermore, it lets me keep track of what topics people are reading about. However, I think that If I were not cultivating this work in the public sphere, my motivation to blog would be mostly gone. So to Jon's question - I think there is a cost/benefit ratio to professional blogging. People will figure out for themselves if it's worth it...I suspect that a great many people will decide that it's not.

Posted by larryb at 06:37 PM [permanent link]
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