Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why You Should Blog

At COLLABORATE 09, Dan Norris introduced me to Ian Abramson, the President of IOUG, author and Data Warehouse guy.

The topic of conversation was blogging (naturally, as I was there on a media/blogging pass). Ian had just recently taken up blogging and was struggling a bit to find a reason to continue blogging.

I then (beer induced) launched into the "whys" and "what fors" for him to blog. I even sent him an email (what? he can't fire me...) which I reprint here.
We talked about this briefly in the exhibit hall. You have a very unique perspective, you are President of the IOUG, 22,000 strong. You are also the Director of the Enterprise Data Group at Thoughcorp. Both positions, and your view of them, are unique. Think of all those people who are striving for success in their life. You are a success, whether you realize it or not. What you have accomplished is no small task. I believe there are many people out there who could benefit from your thoughts and views.

I shared the story of Tom Kyte with you but I'll rehash it here. I began reading AskTom in January of 2002, just before I was to start as my new job in an Oracle shop. At first I thought it was a joke, because my boss' name was Tom as well. After getting in trouble for reading at work (non-work related of course), I began to read AskTom for "pleasure," so I wouldn't get in trouble. That site was often (and still is) the first site I would go to seeking an answer. In 2005 after I had moved on from my first job, he began to blog. As I had read just about his entire site, it was a welcome retreat. His blog contained the occasional technical articles, but more importantly to me, he began to share his approach. Why do that this way? Why instrument your code? So on and so forth. I think I got far more out of his blog, from a big picture perspective, that I ever got from AskTom.

That's why I believe it is important, if you are so inclined, for you to blog.
Is it legal to quote yourself?

I also added a section (I'm not usually known for begin succinct) about blogging in general.

August will be the 2 year mark since I began blogging. My initial reasons were to share what I have learned from my unique perspective. Someone, somewhere could get something out of it. Since then, my reasons have evolved.

1. Knowledge Base - I now find myself searching my own site for problems I have solved in the past, the use of DBMS_CRYPTO being one of them. It has become my own knowledge base.
2. Communication - It has helped me refine my ability to communicate. I now have to articulate my views in a way that other people can understand. That helps me in every facet of life.
3. Peer review - If I post something that isn't correct or is misguided, there are plenty of people out there to tell me I am wrong. I view that as a good thing.
4. Community - I have a small following (barely double digits) whom I can communicate with through the blog. I like the fact that I am plugged in or in touch with other people who do what I do.

Blogging got me fired about a year ago. It wasn't my proudest moment in life, but I definitely learned something from it. Blogging got me into COLLABORATE 09. Blogging will hopefully get me into OOW in October. Blogging hasn't helped me land a job yet, but again, it will eventually.

The point of all this rambling is that everyone, I mean everyone, has a unique perspective on the world. Someone out there will find your stuff interesting. You probably won't make money off of it ($67.45 in 21 months so far!), but if you dedicate yourself to it, you'll certainly get something out of it.


Jake said...

+1 at the very least, blogging provides you with an easily searched archive of what you've learned.

So far (knocking on wood), there have been more times I was glad I blogged than times I was not.

oraclenerd said...

I still struggle with what I should and shouldn't blog, only now I err on the shouldn't side far more often.

I enjoy the conversational (even if mostly one-sided) nature, but I don't want to:
1. get fired again ;)
2. piss off my co-workers
3. burn bridges (though this one is getting harder and harder to leave alone)

Jake said...

That's tough for me too. I usually wait and think about it, rather than rushing to post, kinda like writing an email and not sending it.

You could branch out into other areas of coverage, which would make your content less dependent on those work stories.

If your employer doesn't have any blogging/tweeting guidelines, you could help them form those :)