My, how time flies.
Just four short years ago, I took a brave leap and decided to start blogging here at EMC. I had absolutely no idea how it might turn out. I just thought it was something I should do.
What a long, strange trip it's been ...
So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share a few thoughts on the whole topic.
Blogging Is An Act Of Courage
Lots of people here at EMC are intrigued by what I do, and -- especially -- the whole blogging thing, as it's very visible. They ask me how I do it, and a few go deeper and want to understand why.
My explanation has evolved over the years. I used to make lists of pros and cons for people. That evolved into a dialog around new mechanisms for communication and engagement. When people ask me now, I go straight to the punchline: successfully blogging at a large corporation is essentially an act of self-expression, and requires considerable fortitude and courage.
Let's face it -- to be any good at this stuff whatsoever, you have to put your thoughtful personal opinions and perspectives out there, day in and day out. And doing that is not without consequences.
Outside the firewall, you have to accept all sorts of criticism -- from thoughtful insights to mudslinging attacks -- and attempt to retain some modicum of professionalism. Inside the firewall, you'll frequently draw ire from one internal faction or another over something you've said, how you've phrased something -- or failure to mention them at all.
Corporate blogging is not for the thin skinned :-)
Trying To Be More Than Just A Company Shill
It is quite easy to simply build your blog around recycled company propaganda. I see many examples where touting the Official Party Line is the sole motivation for an individual doing the blog thing.
And I can be as guilty as anyone of enthusiastically promoting EMC's views on various topics: from technologies to products to industry trends. That's not hard for me to do -- since I personally agree with most of EMC's collective views on most topics. That's one of the reasons I've worked here so long, and enjoy it so much. It's easy to be a fan of something you believe in.
That being said, I do my best to branch out into adjacent areas: commenting on industry news, sharing my experiences from customer and partner interactions, the occasional deep introspective thought, constructive self-criticism and the like.
I do not delve much into my personal life on this blog. My personal life is, well, personal -- and I prefer to keep it that way.
Quality Vs. Quantity
It easy to be seduced by metrics: page views, twitter followers, google ranking, etc. I got over that several years ago. Indeed, I frequently get told that if I just did one thing or another differently, I could attract a much wider audience. To this day, I haven't taken any of that advice.
Perhaps the best way to explain this perspective is by using music. At one time, I had a decent shot at having a music career. I was not like other musicians in many regards, but I had a sound and a style that was quite unique, and remains so to this day.
I got a lot of feedback at the time that to be successful (e.g. mass appeal), I would have to rethink my whole approach. I realized that doing so would have meant losing any hope for retaining my individuality and unique perspective -- hence negating the entire proposition. Besides, there are a lot of extremely good musicians out there who don't really make it.
I think you write one way if you want to attract legions of followers. I think you write a different way entirely if you care about going deeper with a smaller audience. Either way, this blog is more of a hobby than a career -- much like music.
Keeping A Consistent Pace
Perhaps the other hard thing about a blog is keeping it going -- especially over a long period of time. A lot of people start a blog. Very few can keep it frequently updated, especially over a four year period as I have.
It is a *lot* of work. It requires a stubborn commitment to make it a priority, even when there are a multitude of other things that you could (or should) be doing. Not everyone's cup of tea.
I especially dislike corporate bloggers that only write a blog post when their company is announcing something, or -- more often -- when a competitor is doing something they don't like. That says a lot about their motivations -- and how they see their audience.
Some people think I have a staff of writers cranking this out. Not true. I type each and every word -- warts and all.
Some think I am handed a corporate script, and have to follow it. Also not true. Frankly, there isn't much of a corporate script to follow :-) Others think that there's a review process involved. Also not true. No one touches anything I write -- that's the deal.
Some claim that I censor comments from people I don't agree with. Not true. A quick review of the 3000+ comments on this blog will quickly dispel that notion. BTW, there's a few cherries in there from competitors who probably now regret their conduct at the time :-)
I do censor obviously commercial posts (counterfeit Nike and Gucci spam is particularly in vogue these days), plus anyone who appears to be obviously under the influence of something or other. Commenting while intoxicated is not pretty.
I am not paid to blog, per se. Part of my role here is communication and engagement, and blogging is how I prefer to do it. It beats the hell out of slogging around through an unending series of airports and hotels :-)
EMC Makes It Easy
I don't think I could do this at any other company.
First, I am fortunate to be working at the epicenter of one of the most interesting and influential companies in IT today, so there's plenty of interesting topics I haven't even gotten to yet. Yeah, I do talk a lot about storage (heck, I find it very interesting), but there's a lot more going on these days :-)
Second, my role brings me in frequent contact with great people outside of EMC: customers, partners, analysts, etc. These very bright and engaging people influence me greatly with their perspectives and insights.
Third, I have always been encouraged to blog by the leadership team here, and I -- in turn -- encourage others to do the same. Not every large corporation would see what I do as a good thing.
For those of you who read me -- and occasionally comment in some form -- my thanks go out to you.
You don't always have to agree with me (what's the fun in that?) but the fact that you listen, engage and respond -- well, that's what this whole blogging thing is really about, isn't it?
I couldn't do it without you.