To Blog or Not to Blog
By joesciallo on May 31, 2007
A Sun colleague emailed me in good spirits the other day, asking, in effect, "Why are you blogging information and not authoring and posting information in the usual way, such as through docs.sun.com?"
Indeed, his complaints were to the point:
- Blogs don't 'order' information like a product document does.
- Blogs are harder to search and retrieve information from.
- You can't link to blog entries as well as you can to other sources of information, again, like product documentation.
- Finally, blogs increase information overload, giving yet one more place to go digging for information.
What my colleaque was hitting upon is this problem that I summarized back in 2005 as twofold: Information is not just books anymore, nor is Sun's doc repository, d.s.c., set up to handle that fact:
My response? Really, we're still experimenting, and as of today, we don't have the final answer for information. Nevertheless, it occurs to me, doesn't the answer lie with my colleague himself, as well all info consumers? Those sites and activities that they hit upon and find most useful should be the focus of our (Pubs) core efforts, our "onestop" or "firststop" sites. We still don't know yet what users are using most, or will use the most. So, like my Sun colleague, I encourage readers of this blog to let me know what you like and don't like--hub, bigadmin, wiki, FAQs, forums, blogs, and so on--so that we'll have more clues on what to provide. Yes, d.s.c. is an antiquated, slow, frustrating repository, but for now, we have to live with it and find suitable workarounds.
Okay, with all that, here's what I wrote back to my Sun colleague:
- Information is not just product docs any more; that is, it's not just manuals getting published at docs.sun.com. Information is now manuals, blogs, podcasts, webcasts, Flash presos, tech articles, and so on.
- I'm hoping everyone starts using the Communications Suite BigAdmin hub as the external 'one stop,' located here:
If you notice, I've tried to pull together news, docs, downloads, and community efforts like blogs into this one site. This is the Sun official way to have an external 'one stop' stopping site.
- Blog material does find its way to more official publications. For example, I did a couple of entries on using Comms Suite for emergency notifications; these entries then found their way into the following article:
This link is on the Comms BigAdmin hub. So again, I urge folks to refer to this site as the external one stop you mention.
- I'm also working up an external Comms FAQ, which could help with the problem you posit, as well as encourage customer and partner participation in the information knowledge delivery and sharing process.
Still GooglingAnd yes, google seems to still be the way to search Sun sites for pertinent hits. Indeed, check out google.com/coop to set up your own personalized search engine. One of our writers has done so, with the following results:
Taking a cue about Google's new service, I created a new search engine exclusively for docs.sun.com and performed a dry run on the search string "installing communications express."
The differences were appalling.
docs.sun.com gave me 9 search result. None of them were relevant. The first link was a release note which was unnecessary.
whereas search docs @ sun http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=008276993630416602221:ez6u3ogtzio (the search engine I created using Google) gave me 40 links starting with the most relevant links straight to the pages where installing Comms Express is mentioned.
For the same search, docs.sun.com took 45 secs, whereas search docs @ sun took 0.36 secs.
Try search docs @ sun http://www.google.com/coop/cse?cx=008276993630416602221:ez6u3ogtzio yourself to know the difference.