John Tropea was kind enough to mention me in his blog, tagging me with the question: what does blogging do for me? (Previously, How do I decide what to blog about?)
The latter is an easy question for me: I write about only five things. Or rather, I tag only five subjects -- knowledge management, information architecture, technology, video games and poetry. That is a fairly strict taxonomy, but until further notice those are the only subjects I feel compelled and knowledgeable enough about to blog. Anything else I discuss either goes untagged or is tangentially related to one of those five topics (like this entry is to KM).
The other question -- what does blogging do for me -- is slightly more complex. When I started, my first blog entry described what I expected to get out of it. I blog -- like many other people, I suspect -- as a way of clarifying my own ideas. The physical activity of writing things down forces me to verify those thoughts. Some ideas that sound good bouncing loosely around in my head can seem perfectly stupid or unsupportable when written down.
There were other incentives as well:
- Establish a reputation as a reasonably well-informed thinker about the topics in question
- Connect with fellow professionals (like John) and share ideas
- Establish a web presence for myself that is more personal and informative than a LinkedIn/MySpace/Facebook profile
However, these are all secondary goals, since there are quicker and more effective methods for achieving each of these. But the question was what does blogging do for me, not what do I think it will do for me. It turns out that my original concept has proven true. The blog has been very beneficial in helping me flesh out ideas and theories that I have had floating around for quite some time. It also spawns new ideas -- and hence new entries -- as I follow a train of thought and compare it to my fellow bloggers.
One consequence is that my blog is somewhat different than others. While others write quickly to jot their ideas down before they escape, my entries take on average a month or more to finish. I would like them to be faster, but I either don't have sufficient time or the ideas themselves take longer to foment.
Another consequence is that I have had the opportunity to "meet" several new people who I would not have met any other way. (Insert a shout out to everyone who has commented on my entries or referenced them in their own blogs. I am very grateful and in several cases they have led me to discover new ideas, theories, methodologies, or products I was not aware of. Thank you, everyone.)
The one thing I had not expected is that the blog helps me see the connectedness of my own ideas. At work, ideas are generated and applied as needed by the situation. Setting up SharePoint? you think about use cases, security policies, information lifecycle, archiving, etc. Participation in a KM program lower than expected? You think about community creation and facilitation, incentives, alignment to business processes, etc. The pragmatic need to address an issue keeps you focused and you inherently apply certain design principles. But you often do not have the time to examine the connection between the decisions. Taking the time to reflect on the ideas and decisions -- abstracted from the specific event -- allows you to understand your own motivations and how they interrelate.
This is reflected rather abstractly in the broad spectrum of subjects I have covered under the guise of KM and IA. But I expect it will become more explicit in the near future, as I outline some of the guiding principles that I have discovered myself pursuing. More on that later.