What the Hell Am I Doing? (or “Should I just Shut Up?”)

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In the last week, I have been aware  of a few discussions going on about the value of blogging.

A recent post by Bjørn Furuknap, where he advises aspiring bloggers to shut up unless they have something of real value to say, has resulted in an interesting discussion. At the same time, I came across an old post by Laurence Hart where he talks about blogging.

Bjørn’s blog can be summed up as follows:

  • Don’t write rubbish – make sure that it is correct
  • Don’t write about the same thing that everyone else is writing about,
  • Give credit

Laurence’s post can be summed up with:

  • Know why you are writing a blog
  • Blog to start a conversation – to add value.

Now – when Bjørn’s post came out, I responded to it stating that he was too harsh, and that one of the purposes of the internet is to give people the freedom to post for what ever reason they want. And that the onus actually lies with the reader, who should choose what they read more carefully.

Having said that, what Bjørn had written sat in the back of my head, slowly being processed for the next couple of days.

Then I read Laurence’s post. He had, pretty much, said the same thing 2 years earlier. It seemed that Bjørn, however, was looking at things from a more technical angle, whereas Laurence more from a social/conversation angle.

At the end of Momentum 2010 I had a great opportunity to talk with another blogger  – Andrew Chapman – for three hours, and he told me  “readers are more interested in hearing your opinion”.

So now I find myself questioning the reason I am blogging. Is it to get hits? In response to Bjørn’s post, I stated that I don’t care how many people read my blog (but secretly I do). Is it to provide technical wisdom to people? Well – I certainly want to pass along useful tips where I can, but try not to fall into the trap of repeating what can be easily read elsewhere. Is it to start a discussion? Umm – not specifically.

So – why did I start blogging? I guess because I found that writing a post really forced me to think about things. So instead of saying to myself “Oh – that’s interesting.”, it would be “OK – what does this mean, can it be done differently. If so – how?” (Andrew had commented to me that he found the same benefit from blogging).

In his post Laurence states that if you don’t want people to read what you have written, “just go start a private journal”. That applied to me, but by writing a blog, I felt that the fact that it might be read also forced me to be a bit more complete.

So my initial blogs were more thought blogs. I would try and comment on a variety of things that were related to content management. And then I started wanting to pass on some of the lessons I had learned from what I considered to be technologies/situations that were little written about. I tried to do this in an interesting way. But, as Laurence, and Bjørn, both state – blogging takes time. My schedule became very busy, with work, with study, and with travel. I still wanted to write those thought blogs but found myself writing simple “did you know” posts with no real added value.

It was good to read Bjørn’s post. I thank Dave Coleman for bringing my attention to it (via twitter). If I hadn’t read it, I wouldn’t have got incensed, and then I wouldn’t have read Laurence’s post and, as a result, wouldn’t have decided that it was time to lift my game.

Gents – thank you.


Bjørn Furuknap’s post: Attention Aspiring SharePoint Bloggers: Shut Up!

Laurence Hart’s post: So You Want to Write a Blog

Andrew Chapman’s blog: Never Talk When You Can Nod

Dave Coleman’s blog: SharePointEduTech


See also:

The secrets of good blogging

The secrets of good blogging (Click for a larger copy)

13 thoughts on “What the Hell Am I Doing? (or “Should I just Shut Up?”)

  1. Mark,

    Thanks for your comments and response. This is exactly why I wrote that post – to get bloggers to think about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they think will be valuable.

    I think you caught on to the secret message here. I’m not asking anyone to shut up, but to think before speaking (or shut up, because mindless and tohughtless blogging doesn’t help anyone, least of all the author).

    Figuring out why one does what one does helps you motivate yourself as well. In fact, I do that several times each year. What I do is that I write down on a simple text document on my desktop what my goal is for my blog. If I am uninspired, I open that document and review it.

    Right now, my goal document from a couple of months back states:

    “Focus attention on authoring and learning SharePoint. Opinionated.”

    There hasn’t been many technical posts on my blog recently, simply because I have changed my priorities. Last summer, BTW, although I don’t have the specific words anymore, it read “Piss Microsoft off and post as much SP2010 stuff as possible”.

    I don’t always follow my own goal document, though, and I never make it a rule to do so, I just use it as a guide for when I need inspiration.

    Thanks for that poster, though, but I think you have an error in the flow logic of what you should do if you are satisfied with writing for friends and family.


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    • Hi Bjorn

      Thank you for your comments, and the great advice about “having a goal”. I guess with my blog, the blog came first with a sort of fuzzy “intention” (not a specific goal). That is something that I am trying to get formulated now.

      Thanks for the comment on the flow diagram. I’ll have a look at it. I probably didn’t capture exactly what you, or Laurence, said in your posts, (so apologies if I miss something, or misinterpreted something). As well as trying to produce more thought posts, I’m also experimenting with different ways to present information.

      Once again – Many Thanks!!

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  2. Good post, and useful links. A lot has changed for me since I wrote that post, but the post has aged well.

    Your opinion does matter. Sharing facts and solutions are also important. What makes some of those posts valuable is linking back to source information, and then describing the problem solving process. Explain the how/why and not just the what. That brings the value to the post.

    Blogging is work that gets harder after the first couple of months. That is when those bloggers with voices separate themselves from those with a few opinions. I’m hoping that you become one of those voices. We need more of them.


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    • Hi Pie – thanks for your feedback. When I first started reading that post of yours, I didn’t realise that it was, indeed, 2 years old. What you had written is still relevant.

      At Momentum this year, as I mentioned, I had a chance to talk with Andrew Chapman. He spoke very, very highly of your blog, and used it as an example of a good thought blog.

      As I mentioned in my reply to Bjorn’s comment, I hope I didn’t miss, or misinterpret anything from your post.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. I started writing my blog after several people said they liked the stuff I had in my presentations. When I pressed them for details, they said they liked “real world examples of HOW SharePoint was being used”, “things that worked / didn’t work” and a few other things I have tried to work in. I realize that many experienced SharePointers may not need/care to see what I blog about, but email, comments and in-person feedback tells me someone does. I think we have to keep in mind that there is a rich and diverse audience out there. Different voices are requied or, at least seem to be appreciated.

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    • Hi Dan – Yes, you are right. Real-life examples can be really useful. I know that there are things I deal with every day related to an integrated Documentum/SharePoint environment that, for me, seem to be “normal”. But then I realise that maybe some of the challenges I am having, may be quite rare (and worth sharing). The trick is to share that information in an interesting, and unique way. So that it is both interesting, and adds value.

      – Mark

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    • Yes, you are right. I’m afraid I hit the thumbs down icon by mistake, sorry about that.

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