I started this blog in May of last year, and posted my personal reflections on blogging three months later in August, and then again at the end of the year in December. As I have been at this now for one year, it is time once more to add to my personal reflections on blogging.
Let me start by looking at the state of the blogosphere through the lens of some information recently posted by David Sifri, founder and CEO of Technorati. In a two part entry in his blog, Sifry commented on the health of the blogosphere. In Part 1 he observed that Technorati now tracks over 37 million blogs, with the number doubling in size every 6 months. Over 50 percent of the bloggers, close to 20 million people, are still posting 3 months after they started their blogs and almost 4 million of them update their blogs at least weekly. Sifry then added in Part 2 that the blogosphere is becoming increasingly multilingual and international and, while English was the language of choice for the majority of the early bloggers, it now represents less than one third of all blogs. Japanese and Chinese language blogging has been increasing fast, and so probably is Korean, since Sifry believes that Technorati is currently seriously undercounting the number of Korean blogs.
Not bad. The blogosphere seems to indeed be alive and well. These numbers remind me of the times ten years ago when the Internet and World Wide Web broke out into the general population and we were all counting the number of Internet users, web sites and page "hits" and marveling at their explosive growth. Eventually we stopped marveling, as the Internet and WWW became simply an integral part of business, society and our personal lives. Blogging is moving in the same direction, just part of the evolution of the Internet and the Web, as they rapidly become platforms for people to find and communicate with each other, share knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and organize themselves into productive communities to work on their problem of choice.
So, I am now one of those almost four million people identified by Technorati who post entries in their blogs at least once a week. Perhaps for many of them writing a blog once a week is a piece of cake, but not for me. I find that writing for my blog takes quite a bit of discipline and hard work.
Typically, I pick a subject I want to write on, then spend a few days thinking about it here and there, trying to get an angle or point of view on the subject that makes it worthwhile for me to write and hopefully interesting for someone else to read. As part of this process, I do a fair bit of research, checking articles on the Web, other blogs, going back and re-reading some of my own previous postings, all the while writing down ideas, URL's and specific phrases or paragraphs in my laptop. Then, when I feel ready and can find some quiet, quality time, I sit down and start writing, usually on evenings and weekends. Sometimes I am able to get it all done in a few hours in one sitting; sometimes I keep hitting a wall and have to put it down and come back to it later, perhaps approaching the blog from a different angle. Eventually I finish writing a first draft, which I then e-mail to a few colleagues for their edits and comments. After getting their feedback, I then finish the blog and post it.
My blog has evolved in the last year in a number of dimensions. For the first six months I was posting entries twice a week but that proved to be too much, so in the last six months I have been posting once a week. Originally I was blogging on a number of subjects, including now and then some totally unrelated to my work, like films and baseball. But in the last several months I have become more focused on a few key subjects, such as innovation in technology and business; technical talent, jobs and education; intellectual property; public policy and a couple of others. These are the subjects that I deal with day in, day out, within and outside IBM, and not surprisingly, it is these subjects that inspire me to think and write. Hopefully, given how immersed I am in these topics, what I write carries some expertise with it, instead of sounding like the musings of an amateur.
I still very much enjoy films, baseball and other activities. Over the last several months, for example I have watched quite a number of films by the great directors Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese. I truly find their work stimulating and inspirational. But, I don't know what it is I can say about them that has not been said so much better by the many film experts out there who have written books and articles or who teach courses on these great directors.
I have also stayed away from controversial and polarizing subjects. I have strong opinions on all kinds of political issues and, given that I immigrated to the US from my native Cuba, some issues like the current debate on immigration or US policy toward Cuba hit close to home. The blogosphere is full of opinions on all sides of these and other political subjects and, while it might be fun to get things off my chest and express my opinions, it would take attention away from the issues on which I want to focus in my blog. So, for now, I am sticking to my knitting.
I seem to have settled on a certain style. When I started blogging, some colleagues were advising me to make my postings shorter so that they are easier to read, or at least mix up shorter and longer entries. I am afraid to say I have actually moved in the opposite direction, as my blog entries have gotten somewhat longer, especially since I started posting once a week. At this time, I have settled on writing blog entries on certain subjects, of a certain length, and hopefully with a certain discernible personal style. It will be interesting to see how the content and style of my blog evolve over time.
I continue to enjoy writing the blog, much more so than I originally anticipated I would. It is hard work, but it feels like a workout of my mind. Like physical workouts, they are not easy and you are sometimes in pain, but at the end you feel really good that you did them, and hopefully the workouts keep your body, - and mind - fit.