I was asked to speak to our group today about blogging and the blogosphere. Here are my notes from that talk, somewhat cleaned up and embellished, for those of you who might have missed the talk or who might want more.
I asked four questions: Why, Why, Why, and Why?
Why should you read blogs?
The whole blogosphere/Web2.0 thing is often overblown, but in a few subtle and significant ways, blogging really is a new medium. There might be 4 million blogs out there. Most of them are probably inactive (e.g. "This is my first blog entry" and nothing else) and like Theodore Sturgeon said, "90% of everything is crap" so this cuts down the numbers considerably. But this still means that there might be tens of thousands of active, interesting blogs out there.
Blogs enable you to establish a personal contact with someone you otherwise wouldn't have. People write in their own voice (usually) and this lets you get to know them a little bit. Most blogging systems have the ability to post comments, and quite often bloggers will respond to comments, so the medium is interactive as well.
At Sun, Jonathan Schwartz has taken the lead in being the first CEO to have his own blog. I believe he writes it himself, unlike most corporate communications which is ghost-written. I don't speak to him much (I met him briefly in person, once) but reading his blog gives me little bits of insight about what's going on in his head. As an employee I think it's really cool. I also believe that customers and the media find it interesting as well.
Jonathan blogs about business but lots of people blog about other topics including personal stuff. A popular blog is one by Rich Burridge who blogs about a wide variety of topics including taking his kids to the new Stanford stadium last weekend. You might or might not find what he writes to be interesting. If it's not, move on to something else; there's sure to be something interesting out there.
Why should you write a blog?
As people go about their daily business, they're constantly interacting with each other. At the water cooler, in hallways, bantering before meetings, there are little bits of insight, funny stories, jokes, war stories, news, information, updates, analysis, etc. are passed around. Usually it just bounces off the wall and disappears. Sometimes people remember it, sometimes they don't. If you think about it, this information can have a lot of value if it's written down. So, next time you find yourself telling (or listening) to one of these little tidbits, write it down and blog about it. When you share this information, others will find it valuable, they'll learn from it, and they'll learn about you as well.
Why should you blog in public?
Sun has an internal blogging system, and many people have set up blogs on it. It's readable and writable only if you're on Sun's internal network. This is OK, insofar as it's another way of improving our internal communication. But we already have so much internal communication already (email, meetings, teleconferences, webcasts, etc.) that it doesn't help all that much. It's just another way to talk to ourselves. And as my father once said, if all you do is talk to yourself, you win all the arguments.
We need to engage the outside world. The whole internet -- the blogosphere -- is several orders of magnitude larger than Sun. Inside of Sun, we're insular, even provincial. So, we need to get out there and engage the entire blogosphere, the real world, instead of being "chicken" and staying safe inside of Sun. We might get some comments we don't like, but that's how we learn and grow.
At the same time, we present ourselves as individuals. Sun isn't a monolithic, faceless corporation. It's a corporation with a lot of smart, articulate individuals, each of whom has an independent personality. This projects a much richer and more powerful image of what Sun is to the outside world.
Why should you read my blog?
You should read my blog because I post short, crisp entries on interesting and relevant topics. If you read my blog and you don't like it or aren't interested, post a comment!