Well, I browsed to my blog today to write an entry, and everything'schanged from a publishing perspective. Apparently we've finallyswitched over to using the Roller
blogging engine vs. our old custom solution, so I need to relearn howto write blogs and use this thing. I think I'll probably attend thenext Raleigh Blogger's Meetup
so I can ask Dave Johnson
(Roller's original creator) for some tips.
One major benefit I've discovered so far - we finally have a "Preview"mode so I don't have to publish before seeing all of my typo's and HTMLmistakes. Now if only they have a distributed preview mode so that mymom could proofread in advance of publishing (I always get friendlyemails from her telling me about misspellings and grammar mistakes).
- Bill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Every year each IBMer has to read and certified that they read the IBM Business Conduct Guidelines. This is a worthwhile exercise, because sprinkled throughout the document are a bunch of best practices related to a wide variety of issues - open source licensing, dealing with vendors, etc.
One part though struck me as somewhat out-of-date, given our official foray into the blogosphere in this last year:
IBM's business activities are monitored closely by journalists, consultants and securities analysts. You should not initiate contact with these individuals or groups or respond to their inquiries without authorization as follows:
- Journalists - IBM Communications
- Consultants - IBM Analyst Relations or IBM PartnerWorld
- Securities or Financial Analysts - IBM Investor Relations
- Attorneys - IBM Counsel
For the cases of jounalists and analysts, I don't think this can be an absolute rule for IBMers who want to participate in the blogosphere(s). If it is, then I've violated it many many times in conversations with the Redmonk guys and other analysts I've encountered in the blogosphere.
Think about it. I write a post on some technical thought, and an industry analyst is nice enough to add his or her two cents to the conversation via a comment or a trackback blog. Now imagine that the industry analyst had an interesting insight, or challenged something I said, or had an innocent question. Do I call analyst relations and say "I would like to respond to this two sentence comment that an industry analyst wrote at my blog. Can you help me craft an appropriate response?"
Now there have been cases where an analyst got a little too forward-looking with their questions and then
I vectored them off to the appropriate communications group. But the rule in the business conduct guidelines is too absolute for the current environment.
You gotta trust your employees to use their judgement, and sometimes that judgement will tell them to talk directly with journalists and analyst, without bringing in the comms intermediaries.
- Bill (email@example.com
So having used RSS for a few months, here's the three styles of feed items I've noticed, ordered by how much I like the style, descending:
- Full entries (e.g. my feed)
- Concise summaries (e.g. Sam Ruby's feed)
- Vague excerpts (e.g. Bruce Schneier)
I understand the business motivation to force readers to click a hyperlink to view a full entry - it's the most straightforward way to measure relative and absolute interest in your entries. But sometimes the "summary" sent via the feed is not so much a summary as a vague excerpt. Maybe it's just me, but frequently reading the short form of a blog entry, there's not enough there to even determine if I should follow the link and read more.
But then there's the Fast Company "quote summary" which is truly in a league of its own. Here are a few recent (real) examples:
The New Lure of Internet Marketing
"What better form of personalization
is there than hearing something from a friend?
, CEO, SoftLock.com
The Man From CHAOS
"Americans like reorganization
. They don't like technology
, Founder, Modicon
Are You Being Coached?
"Figure out what behavior
needs to change and how to change it
, Vice President, Hewlett-Packard
So you can see the pattern emerging:
Uninteresting, sometimes unrelated, titleUnderwhelming quote with two instances of bold.-Name of person I've not heard of, title, company
As I become aware of this pattern in the Fast Company RSS feed, I went through the following phases:
- severe annoyance
- unhealthy eagerness to check the Fast Company feed for the latest goofy quote summaries
If you want to share in the fun of the occasional Fast Company quote summary RSS item, you can subscribe here
.-Bill Higgins, frustrated blog reader, IBM
Ok, this post will totally reveal the immaturity that I try to hide from my fellow IT professionals but is well-known to friends and family.
I'm now the #1 Bill Higgins in the world according to Google
. This represents the culmination of a long journey, that I'll tell you about here.
A few months after I started my blog, I did a vanity search on my name and was appalled that I was like the fifth Bill Higgins on the list. After a few more months, I climbed up the list, past the Bill Higgins who played one season in the NBA
, past the Bill Higgins who played professional baseball in the 1880s
, and past the Bill Higgins who is a Los Angeles reporter
Alas, I could not pass my homonymous nemesis the other Bill Higgins from Penn State University
Let me take a step back. I went to Penn State
from 1996 and 2000, where I majored in Computer Science
. While I was there, I discovered that there was another human being named Bill Higgins on campus - and he was a senior Professor of Electrical Engineering! Innevitably, whenever I'd meet a new professor, he or she would say "Bill Higgins! Like the EE professor?! Are you related?". To which I politely said "Yes like the EE professor, no we're not related.". Years later, when I saw Office Space
, I had a special sympathy for the character named Michael Bolton (no not the hairy pop singer).
So I was always "the other Bill Higgins" at Penn State. So it annoyed me when I saw that I was still #2 according to Google (I told you this entry would demonstrate incredible immaturity!). But finally, after many months of dilligent blogging, and placing comments on the blogs of more popular bloggers linking back to this blog, I'm #1.
If there are any aspiring Bill Higgins's out there, let me just warn you now to change your name if you want to be #1, because I'm never giving up my spot.
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to celebrate my new status by eating birthday cake for lunch and watching an episode of the Smurfs.
PS - The ironic thing is that by linking to these other Bill Higgins's, I've increased their Google page rank and may put them at an advantage over me![Read More
I just read and really appreciated Nicholas Carr's blog entry "The amorality of Web 2.0
". Like Carr, I get very uncomfortable when I read Tim O'Reilly and others speak of Web 2.0, or just the web for that matter, in quasi-religious language.
Is the web a culturally-transformative phenomenon? Undoubtedly. Should we try to assess this phenomenon objectively? Absolutely. Should we approach the web like religious zealots? Perhaps only after many, many beers.
I must admit, it's nice to read a fellow Web 2.0 skeptic - it seems that many of the bloggers I read are almost obsessed with Web 2.0, and it makes me feel uncomfortable to read it.
But then again, for the last eight years up until May, I was obsessed with the new Star Wars movies, so who am I to judge? :-)contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're a Java programmer and enjoy listening to podcasts, you should check out Dick Wall's new Java podcasting effort The Java Posse
I just listened to his interview with Rob Harwood of Jetbrains about the IntelliJ IDEA Java IDE
. I had heard several people like Hani Suleiman (a.k.a. the BileBlogger) state their preference for IntelliJ in the past, but I'd never heard an IntelliJ user talk specifically about features that they think are strong in IntelliJ. Especially interesting were Rob's criticisms of Eclipse, which were unusually specific and objective. The interview was also helped by the fact that Dick was knowledgable and well-prepared for the discussion, and was therefore able to ask provacative questions that led to good discussion.
So anyhow, check out the Java Posse
and especially check out the interview with Rob
if you're interested in the different Java IDEs out there.contact me: email@example.com
I just looked at our internal developerWorks blogging statistics for August 2005, and I was sort of blown away the number of hits Bobby Woolf
I won't give the numbers (don't think I'm allowed) but will say that he got over 2x anyone else and over 3x my number of hits.
Keep the great info coming Bobby!contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
On my current project, we're using a wiki
for knowledge capture, documentation, and planning. I discovered tonight that our wiki also provides an RSS feed with recently updated wiki entries.
Right now, I only use Bloglines
to aggregate feeds and since it's web-based, I can't track feeds within IBM's firewall. So I need a non-web-based feed reader. One other requirement is that the wiki's RSS feed requires basic authentication
so my feed reader must as well.
Can anyone recommend a non-web-based feed reader that supports basic authentication? I tried Feedreader
v2.90, but it doesn't seem to support basic authentication.
Thanks in advance for your help.contact me: email@example.com
Note - This entry is really just a continuation of my last post
Well, we got back to Durham last night at 8:30 PM Eastern and I went through some email and cruised the web. Lo and behold there was an email on the topic of IBM podcasting (dated Friday) from Ethan McCarty
of Strategic Communications. And there was also a story on podcasting on the IBM Intranet home page (also dated Friday). So now I see how much I can miss when I take just one day off!
The first podcast is called "The Future of Driving
" and consists of Ben Edwards from IBM Communications interviewing two IBMers who work on IT solutions for the automobile industry. I was somewhat familiar with this topic because Grady had told me about BMW's iDrive software last year when he was examining it
(reg. required) for the Handbook of Software Architecture.
The good news is that Ethan, Ben, & co. got this first podcast 98% right, which would have been a big surprise on Sunday morning but wasn't surprising at all when I saw the email from Ethan and knew he was involved (he gets all this stuff). I actually learned quite a few new interesting technical things, which is how I measure a podcast's effectiveness. The guys really knew their stuff and they really made me understand Grady's point that the more interesting engineering in cars these days is in the software.
I was also happy to see that the audio engineers got the little things right - like making the interview a good length (20 minutes), using a simple MP3 file, and tagging the MP3 file with logical metadata (both in terms of the fields they completed and the contents of those fields).
There were only two things I'd say could be improved for future shows. The first was that the guys seemed a little reserved which is to be expected on a first podcast. The second is that I didn't care for the little entrance and exit elevator music. Come on Ethan, I know you have better taste than that - we're a high tech company - play some electronica or techno or something! The folks at IBM who might be appalled by "hip" music probably won't be able to figure out how to get the MP3 to play anyhow :-)
So anyhow, bravo guys! I'm looking forward to future shows.
If you're interested in future shows, you can either subscribe to the RSS feed
or monitor the web site
. They've also included an intro to podcasting article
which probably isn't necessary reading for readers of this blog, but is a very nice touch for newbies.contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
In my last post
, I mentioned some discussions occurring around adding downloadable audio content (a.k.a. "podcasts") to developerWorks. Low and behold I log on to MSNBC this morning and saw the following headline:
IBM joins podcast craze with audio think-pieces (link)
This headline made me go "hmmmmm...." I read the article and the gist of it is:
IBM plans a series of commentaries entitled "IBM and the Future Of..." that sums up the latest thinking from IBM consultants on trends from shopping to innovation, banking, economics, and the home.
I'm very interested and - to be honest - a bit nervous to hear one of these. Best case is some very cutting-edge insights; worst case is buzzword-laden fluff. Let's hope for the former.
Now, I have to attend to some birthday cake and then the seven hour drive from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Durham, North Carolina (83 S -> 15 S -> 17 S -> 95 S -> 85 S -> 70 E -> HOME!!!)contact me: email@example.com
I had a pleasant Panera Bread lunch today with Scott Bosworth, who's in charge of developerWorks
and is a fellow Penn State
grad, which makes him ok in my book.
One thing we talked about was providing podcasts
on developerWorks. Apparently there are a lot of folks who are excited about this idea but there are no concrete plans at the moment. One thing we agreed upon is that it would be pointless and kinda stupid if we simply had people read developerWorks articles into a microphone.
One thing I suggested to Scott is that we steal the IT Conversations
format of having smart technical people interview other technical people in their areas of expertise. E.g. when Grady interviewed
outgoing Rational GM Mike Devlin and incoming Rational GM Danny Sabbah, that would have made good podcast material. Conversation is just inherently more interesting than monologue, IMHO.
If you have any ideas on how IBM should (or should not) wade into the world of podcasting, feel free to comment on this post, or send me an email. If you send an email, CC: Scott (bosworth at us dot ibm dot com) and Rawn Shah
(rawn at us dot ibm dot com) who works for Scott and is directly in charge of the community strategy for dW.contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shel Israel and Robert Scoble have posted an interview
with Doug Kaye, founder of IT Conversations, whom I mentioned the other day
Note that Israel and Scoble are using this blog (Naked Conversations
) to gather input and feedback on their work-in-progress book on corporate blogging. I for one can't wait to get a copy of the final version.contact me: email@example.com
It turns out that Buell Duncan, who is IBM Software Group's general manager of independent software vendor (ISV) and developer relations, has a developerWorks blog
It's not on the dW blog main page
(I noticed it on the dW homepage's "spotlight" section).Update: Buell's blog *is* on the dW blog main page, under "More blogs" at the bottom.
So if you are a developer using IBM software products, or work for a company that builds complementary products on top of IBM platform products (e.g. WebSphere Application Server), you may want to keep up with Buell's blog, and send him suggestions for improvements via his blog's comments.
Buell's also in charge of the IBM Academic Initiative
, which is where we support universities and other educational institutions with our expertise and products.
Speaking of which, I'm really curious to know if any students read my blog. If you're a student, whatever your level or topic of study, please drop me an email at the address below. I'd like to ask you some questions about your thoughts on technical / corporate blogging.
I was delighted to get a comment on one of my RSA/UML blog entries
from Michelle Crane, who is a graduate student studying formal methods and UML at Queen's University in Canada. The funny thing was that after looking at Michelle's home page
, I realized that she probably knows way more about UML than I do :-)
Such is life in the blogosphere; expertness is relative.contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org[Read More]
As someone late to the blogging game (October 2004, thank you very much), I didn't know the difference between RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 until Sam Ruby
started to explain it in an email to the IBM developerWorks bloggers
a few weeks ago.
Just saw that Tim Bray of Sun has published a well-written and thorough comparison
. This one's getting bookmarked!contact me: email@example.com
Those of you who read this blog and also have blogs of your own may have noticed that I've recently been posting a lot more comments on your blog than normal. I've adopted a new personal policy I think of as "insight reciprocity", or, in non-fancy terms, if you consistently enlighten me with your knowledge and insights, I will set aside time out of my day to try to contribute something back to your blog.
It was Stephen O'Grady's "The Buck Starts Here
" that brought me to this policy. In that post he stated his personal philosophy of using some of his disposable income to pay for services that he found interesting or novel, even though he could just as easily make it through life without said paid-service. I agree with this philosophy and want to extend it to the intellectual capital generated in the blogosphere.
When you find a blog that provides insights consistently, invest some time in contributing your own expertise and insights back to that blog by posting comments. This isn't some sorta karma-based kumbaya nonsense - it's purely selfish; if you engage someone who enlightens you in a coversation, you're likely to receive more enlightenment than if you had remained quiet, not just from the blogger but also from the other smart people that a smart blogger attracts.
I know, I know, this is "value of blogging 101" but as you know, I'm a tad slow ;-)
BUT ANYWAY... if by some chance one of my posts sheds light on some aspect of your work or life, please be kind and offer some of your own insights back.contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org