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Geertjan's Blog

  • March 31, 2006

What One Year Of Blogging Has Done For Me

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
If you look at the very first blog entry in this blog, you will see that it is dated "Friday April 01, 2005". That means that today, the 31st March 2006, is one day before this blog's birthday. Time for an evaluation. Whenever I think about blogging, and about this blog in specific, I am reminded of the whole Sun schpiel on "the participation age vs. the information age". There was a time, some months back, when I read Scott McNealy's "What We Must Do" booklet quite a lot, because it really relates to my experience with this blog. One of the statements in that booklet goes something like this: "In the participation age, the world is not smaller -- you are bigger." (Hope I'm not horribly misquoting Scott McNealy here.)

But, basically, that's been my experience with this blog. I've ended up with a profile that is waaay larger than my job description (i.e., technical writer) would normally give me. That's been kind of interesting to experience. So, anyway, directly or indirectly as a result of my daily NetBeans blogging activity, here's a list of some of the things I've been lucky enough to experience:

  • Increased product knowledge. I've pretty much consistently blogged about NetBeans and nothing but NetBeans. Basically, I've just been recording whatever I was working on at the time, which meant that I had to actually be working on something reasonably interesting every day in order to be able to blog about it. Fortunately, I've been working on very interesting features of NetBeans (Ant integration, web service support, plug-in development, rich-client application development), so coming up with something interesting to blog about has usually been a question of having to choose (since I decided to blog no more than once a day and, as far as possible, on one specific subject only).

  • Feedback that I would never otherwise have had. Through my blog, I've had direct interaction with users. Fortunately, NetBeans has a lot of mailing lists, and that's the most immediate way through which I interact with users about tutorials and other docs that I'm responsible for. (By the way, this is the first job I've had where mailing lists and other avenues allow for writer-user interaction; normally, I've only had indirect user contact via marketing departments and so on, which was very inconvenient because marketing departments only care secondarily, understandably, about docs: the primary focus is always on the product itself.) But, a blog has the added benefit of you, the blogger, being in control. It's a very personal thing, totally different to responding to a random e-mail in a mailing list.

  • Existence on other people's radar. As a technical writer, one is often pretty much a background person, spewing out a tutorial or book here and there, but for the rest functioning as little more than an also-ran in the larger scheme of things. But, thanks to this blog, a variety of people and groups have contacted me and invited me to do cool things. To name just a few—in October last year I was invited by the NL-JUG to do a NetBeans presentation at one of their conferences, last month I was asked to participate in an edition of the SDN Channel, recently I was invited to speak to the Sun Java System Application Server User Experience group (because I'd been complaining a little bit about various things I don't like about the Sun Java System Application Server), and through this blog (here) I ended up getting picked up at Munich airport by two NetBeans users when I went there to give a NetBeans training. I also became someone that's considered as a potential speaker, at least partly because of the profile I have through my blog, when NetBeans folks plan NetBeans Day events, such as the one recently held in Madrid. And when I'm at an event like that, cool people (like Antonio) recognize me (by the way, check out Antonio's editor tricks)!

  • Happy NetBeans users. Some people have found what I blog about useful. :-)

  • Fun. Most importantly, it's been a lot of fun working on this blog. The demands I've set for myself have always been very low—(1) Just blog whatever I'm working on. (2) If I think that I would want to read it more than once, then it is worth blogging about. As a result, the pressure I put on myself is really really low, so whatever flows from it is cool and surprising.

So, here's to another year of blogging! Happy birthday, blog.

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Comments ( 7 )
  • Donald Smith Friday, March 31, 2006
    Hi,
    I think both you and Roumen have great blogs and are serving your community well. Congrats on the birthday.
    - Don
  • Sandip Friday, March 31, 2006
    Congratulations. I think you blog has been very userful to the NetBeans community. Keep up the good work.
  • James Branam Friday, March 31, 2006
    Your blogging has inspired a lot of other people to do the same, but very few have even come close to what you have have done in your blog. Keep up the great work!
  • guest Friday, March 31, 2006
    I hope you will continue, especially explanation concerning the development of the wicket module.
    Thanks a lot.
    Vincent
  • Gregg Sporar Friday, March 31, 2006
    Ya' left out one of the most important results of your blogging: Go to Google and type in "Geertjan" The number one search result is http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/geertjan.


    :-)


    Keep up the good work.
  • Geertjan Tuesday, April 4, 2006
    Hi all, thanks for the supportive comments!
  • Antonio Wednesday, April 5, 2006
    Hi Geertjan,
    Well, it's you that are a cool person. And a great blogger too. Thank you for all these nice blog entries during this time!!
    All the best,
    Antonio
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