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Introduction

I had a controversial discussion with my fellow office room mate Thorsten the other day about ‘blogging’ and its implications, which I wanted to share with you. The pivot point of this discussion was about whether or not it is a ‘good idea’ of exposing too many information about oneself to public. While that is certainly an important aspect of blogging, I would really like to put this nuance aside for a minute and talk about my motivation to blog first (and then get back to that particular aspect.)

“Why blog?”

For me this is really the fundamental question anyone thinking about starting a blog should ask him/her-self. What do I want to accomplish with blogging? There could be many valid reasons – of which many are related to what you want to blog about. Is it a business or private blog? Tons of good questions… however, this blog is not the typical 101 and as such I leave it to what other people wrote about the topic. Let your search engine of choice guide you…. Finding your way through the web, digging up related & interesting resources and getting involved with others is the α and Ω of blogging, if you do not embrace these aspects as an integral part of your blogging you’re likely to fail.

Why do I blog?

First and foremost… I blog for myself. While that may sound strange at first, let me explain. I have a very challenging and demanding job and in this fast-paced business deadlines are aways ambitious, especially in strategic projects. Yet, this is the domain I’ve chosen for myself and in general I love my job!

As I talked about in a A Day in the Life being an Architect – modi operandi I see the routine of critical reflection and assessment as crucial to learn and grow. So, ever since my days of creative writing in college I really enjoyed the process of sketching out an essay and putting it down on paper. This is where I find my zen… get it all out and off my chest by just saying it out loud. That usually helps quite a bit in real life as well, right? Ultimately, there’s someone listening to what you say who knows you or your situation and got some gentle words or helpful advice. That’s the rewarding aspect of it… but it greatly depends on your readers/followers you got. I’ll get back on that later…

There’s more to it though… from the daily discussions I have with my fellow colleagues and peers I got to understand that I’m NOT on my own and that the challenges I face all day long are quite common in IT. (Guess that’s why Dilbert is so popular! ;)) So, there’s a chance that somebody can relate to what I blog in one way or the other. Personally, I’ve experienced many times that a blog I read just had the right message for me that I needed at the time. That it just clicked… that’s the goal – to reach out to your readers in such a way as that they are willing to shift from spectator to contributer...

Derek Sivers: How to start a movement 

Global communication

For me, what could be more thrilling and a better learning experience than to interact, discuss and collaborate with the entire world? Yes, technically we were able to connect the world and turn it into a global village. But what about the social aspect of #web20? Here it’s all about: communication, communication, communication. … Did I mentioned communication?

Interaction and Exposure

It’s for sure a learning experience and I understand that people may be skeptical to expose that much of themselves in public. Some people are more introverted than others, yet ‘still waters run deep‘ and as such some great ideas and interesting content are never published or fail in getting the attention they’d deserve. So, this is where I’m aiming at… I want to help in promoting a SDN in the times of Web 2.0: Need for Feed(-back) that lowers the entry barrier for blogging and social media. It’s a learning experience for sure and you have to take it as such and deal with the fact that you may make mistakes along the way… in public…

But isn’t that how we all learn? By making mistakes? What could be a better teacher as life itself? And you documenting that via blogging? #salespitch

Multipliers

So, if a hesitating person is convinced to pick up blogging, he/she may still struggle with multiple disciplines in the process such as writing (in English) and/or promoting the content. This is where multipliers fit into the picture. I remember my early days of blogging at SCN and I’m just grateful for the safe-guarding I received by the SCN staff (special thanks to Gali and Brian) and by our marketing lead (thanks Mary!)

On top of that, we have moderators at SCN that are experts in their domain and are more than capable of telling the good and the bad apart and make sure that the good stuff gets the spot-lights. So, I can honestly promote SCN as a great community to get started on blogging. As such, I’m trying to do my own share on promoting content that I find helpful and/or interesting. I try to talk people into trying it out and offer some safe-guarding.

That’s what I’ve been doing as part of my job as an Architect in other domains for a long time – being a multiplier. As a core member of the Technology Competence Team (TCT) at SAP Custom Development our mission statement was all about evaluating new technologies and new trends and roll them into the organisation and then roll-out the best practices and success stories back to the community. And this is why I blog… I see it as a part of my role of being a multiplier!

Loop back

So, before I call it a day I still owe you talking about the negative side of this public exposure, the digital footprint, the public profile. Sure, I cannot deny that and I do share some of the concerns about the lack of a “permanently delete” button for person-related content on the web. However, I came to the understanding that I have to be willing to take that aspect as an unavoidable circumstance and something that I would not empower to stop me from what I find right to pursue.

Instead, I try to turn it around… transform a weakness into a strength, and just make sure that the digital portrait of myself properly reflects me and my believes and values – to sharpen that picture. That does not mean that I’m completely exposing my most innerst self… by no means. I still think about what aspects/parts of my private life should be contained in my blog. Yet, it’s still an authentic representation and I also feel that a blog should always have a personal touch as it really is about human interaction and not just print media.

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5 Comments

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  1. Matthias Steiner Post author
    Guess we all have experienced a situation where someone (maybe yourself) had a public speech, presentation or even a foolish moment, which was followed by an (embarassing) moment of silence. This is really the moment for the first follower to step in and reply – to turn it into a dialogue.

    Any reply is a valid one:

    – it is totally irrelevant and uninteresting…
    – it’s utterly non-sense and I have completely contrary experiences..
    – I complete agree to what you just said, may I add…
    – you have me thinking/you provided a different view on it…
    – I read something releated here taht may be interesting in this context also…

    While most people do not like to be bearer of bad feedback, it’s the only chance for the other person(s) to take at least something out of it. And it may even turn the situation in something positiv – in the last consequence maybe even by serving as a bad example.

    So, in this concrete case we can see that around 150 people read the blog over the weekend, yet nobody left a hint… why’s that?

    – Is it just bad timing to post a blog on the weekend?
    – Is nobody considering the content worth replying?
    – Is the title misleading or does the content do not live up to the expected value of the title?

    You leave the author clueless and as such you leave it up to him to make sense out of it. But then don’t be surprised to see similar posts again and again.

    If you do like it, why not spend one minute saying so. Because otherwise the author may conclude nobody is interested in the topic and moves on…

    You see, no action is also an action. Take a stance… make a chance!

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  2. Gretchen Lindquist
    Matthias,
    I can relate to your puzzlement, because I, too, have wondered from time to time how so many people can read some SCN posts and have nothing to say. I think you made a very clear case for blogging on SCN and in particular for starting out as a blogger here. I agree, new voices are welcome and support is available, so those who have been consumers of information here should take your advice and consider stepping up to contributor.

    Cheers,
    Gretchen

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Many thanks for your feedback Gretchen. I really appreciate your feedback.

      This is what I meant with the multipliers… the SAP Mentors really shine in this regard and play a vital role within the community!

      PS: Great harminica playing there… want to challenge Mark? 😉

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  3. Claudine Lagerholm
    Hi Matthias,
    Your blog made me think about how “exposure” itself has changed through blogging, and how it can make new  bloggers uncomfortable or at least concerned. It used to be that only companies and senior execs got any real airtime, typically through press releases, interviews, announcements, etc.  And the resulting articles, analyst reports, etc. would become public, permanent records. So, if a company raved about a product that turned out to be a total flop or slammed a competitor that later proved to be the undisputed winner, those statements could not be “deleted” from the historical records and they could come back to haunt the authors.  Once in a while something embarrassing would happen, but for the most part, PR departments would smooth out any rough edges and provide media coaching to their execs.  So, there was always a certain level of control and restraint.  But with blogging picking up and the emergence of communities in the market, this model was turned upside down, and now anyone can express their views and opinions.  The same holds for SCN.  So, one might think that we’d have lots of folks on SCN making complete fools out of themselves because of lack of media training and experience. But despite all the potential pitfalls, the open model on SCN works amazingly well. 🙂 There are solid rules on how to blog and these rules actually indirectly “watch out” for the bloggers’ reputation, plus SCN moderators often provide guidance to new bloggers.  So, I would just add the following points to “Why Blog”:
    – If you are considering becoming a new blogger, don’t be afraid of jumping in. If you have insights, go ahead and share them with the community.
    – Use common sense and think of how your blog might be perceived in the future.
    – Use the resources available to you on SCN to get started and let others guide you in the process.
    – Have fun. I love reading blogs from one of our SCN execs who often includes images and little fun facts in his blogs.  One of the great things about blogging is that it does not have to be formal. 

    Cheers,
    Claudine

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    1. Matthias Steiner Post author
      Absolutely!

      As you stated, this shift from being an “elitist” media to be only absorbed by the audience towards a movement for the masses is the social aspect of web 2.0.

      Especially in IT, I feel that too much hype was caused about the technical aspects such as AJAX or any other sort of RPCs. Sure, flickerless screens are a nice thing and as such these technologies sure add to the user experience. Still, the social aspect is the much interesting one… and here everybody should start thinking of contributing and raising their opinions. Help form a critical mass for what you consider worthy (e.g. http://www.TED.com)

      In a society/community it pays off to have fresh thoughts and new views on things… sadly, I agree to what I have read in the German Spiegel magazine about the so-called digital natives. For them, the net is just a commodity as TV used to be for us. Nothing ultimately great nor intersting for most… and that is where I’m aiming at: without raising your opinion you depend on others to make a change… and on their fortune and dedication – maybe “you” could be the first follower or the one that completes a group of equally-minded …

      About your last point… as long as you stick to the usage permission of the media it’s all fair and fine… wish I could do inline Dilberts, but hey, a link is just one click to get you there.

      Many thanks for your thoughts Claudine!

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