Why Do You Blog?

It’s coming up on six weeks since yours trulydipped his feet into the “Blogging Waters”.  For others here onBlogging Idol, this was a similar “baptism by fire” – while for some,this contest was an opportunity to continue a journey already started -build on previous experience, and come out of it a “better blogger”.  Ihad some very specific goals and outcomes in mind, looking at this“competition” as a vehicle and mechanism to help achieve those goalsand drive to the outcome; an outcome that, until this contest presenteditself, had eluded me.   Through this (albeit) short, but at the sametime long and “learning filled” 6 weeks, I found myself often put inthe position to answer the question “Why are you doing this? Why are you blogging?”.  This post looks to dig into that question, and more importantly, the many answers to this question….

How Do You Answer This Question? What Motivates The Blogger?

Before I add more “meat to the bone” of this article, let me buildup the ’spine’ a bit more as I believe it is informative to look morebroadly at ourselves as human beings, and present day “rulers” of thisplanet prior to focusing on the details specific to answering thequestion of “blogging” in the year 2009.

So what defines us in the broader sense – the broadest sense possible – that being the homo sapiens as a species, is (and I paraphrase from Wikipedia):

“…notable for the desire ofsome of its individual members to understand and influence theenvironment around them….This natural curiosity has led to thedevelopment of advanced tools and skills…Humans pass down their skillsand knowledge to the next generations and so are regarded as dependentupon culture.”

This notion that we are “dependent upon culture” and possess a“natural curiousity” to “understand and influence the environment” isquite instructive and relevant (to me) in this discussion.  The“passing down of skills and knowledge” is a behaviour and tendancy allof us I think can certainly relate to.  When considering the activityof “blogging” and even more broadly, how quickly and deeply “socialnetworking” has integrated into the fabric of present day society — theoutcome we are seeing perhaps is more “natural” than we might otherwisethink.

Stepping back to a more “pragmatic”, and less “academic”perspective, my motivation “to blog” could be traced back to an “unmetneed” I have probably been looking to fill for some time, with“blogging” finally being the medium and “technology” that has enabledit.  I believe many bloggers “who blog” share the common desire, linkedback to “what defines us as humans” to share knowledge and add value to our audience.

For those of you familar with the concept of Job Sculpingas it relates to talent retention and engagement, my own personal DELI’s (Deeply Imbedded Life Interests) are, in descending order of emphasis:

Application of Technologymeasures interests that are often associated with engineering,production, operations, and the general use of technology to accomplishbusiness objectives

Counseling and Mentoring measuresinterests that involve developing relationships as a crucial part ofbusiness work, such as coaching, training and mentoring

Influence Through Language and Ideas measures interest in exercising influence through the skillful use of written and spoken language

The thinking about DELI’s is that we all have our “DELI’s” which areevident from an early age, and don’t really change throughout our life. Think of a DELI as “what makes you tick”.  From the HBR article - Deeply embedded life interests do not determine what people are good at — they drive what kinds of activities make them happy…

So back to this contest, and this blogger, and “Why I Blog” and howI have “answered that question” over the last 6 weeks.  The questionasked by friends, family, co-workers, my spouse, and even “myself”. The fact is, I had been “thinking” about blogging for at least 2 yearsnow.  The roadblock? Where to find time.  And forsomeone who is often deeply analytical and introspective, thinkingabout “time” as a finite resource, and with the “fight for time” beinga constant, sometimes “daily” struggle – staying on the sidelines wasan easy call to make.

So “this contest” for me, was a way to “challengemyself” to find the time and balance to “fit this into” my life -because the “activity” in itself, was certainly aligned with my DELI`s and a logical evolution really, of what I already do in my daily analoglife – at work, rest or play – connecting people with neededinformation, processes and technology.  And as a specific outcome of“making Blogging “stick” for Cardoso”, that has been successfullyattained (sorry, yes that means you’ll hear more from me…somewhere, ifyou choose to dial in).  If you ask my spouse (who is “happy” thattoday is the last day of the contest, perhaps that balance I spoke of still needs to be fine tuned (read: attained).  The truth is, the pace of this contest, in particular the last 3 weeks, has not been as sustainable a level or committment that myself, and I think many others, would be prepared to make 52 weeks of the year.  But I have learned a lot -with much more to learn. I have also written some articles, where the“end game” was traffic – as a “means to an end” being “this contest”that was a necessary “evil” – but I didn’t (and still don’t) feel thatgood about it.  But some of them fell into the “most popular” bucket asfar as my posts go, so I may still need to calibrate my measurementsystem.  Perhaps “value” to my audience, in my mind, still needs tohone in on that target.  Having said that, I believe it’s probably a“moving target”, and that every blogger is trying to constantly hit“that zone” their “community” is looking for.

So for this `blogging idol`, blogging is here to stay, and that, forme is mission accomplished.  The details around what that looks likegoing forward is not yet clear, but in the days and weeks ahead, thatclarity will come.

A secondary, but equally important objective for me, around thiscontest and activity, was to open up new doors and opportunities to learn and grow. The beginnings of that has already been achieved.  This through newand developing relationships and networks – with fellow Blogging Idols,such as Chris Lau and Don Sheppard,two peers that I have tremendous respect for and from whom I havelearned much, and hope to continue to learn and be motivated by theunique skills and energy both of them bring to the table – whetherthrough posts or other interactions we may share.  I look at otherIdols, such as Asma Rafi and Steve Harris who I have had less interaction with, but hope to hear more from them going forward.

I hope that will be a third installment of Blogging Idol, and thatthe great work that ITWorldCanada is doing, sponsoring great programsand initiatives such as this, will continue to nurture and foster the Canadian Blogging Scene,as I feel we still have far to go before we have adequaterepresentation in `this arena`. Our braintrust and bench strength inthis knowledge domain is not properly represented when you look at theblogging scene here compared to the US.    Part of that I think iscultural and a Canadianthing that we just need to get over and get out there…

So why do I Blog? For myself, it is a natural evolution and step inmy professional and social development.  At the end of the day, itmakes me happy – and not to suggest of course that in my lifethis defines my happiness – that would be silly.  My wife (thanks hon,for wearing the “blogging widow” hat), daughter, family, friends,work…the list goes on with items of exponential higher importance andcontribution to happiness – but Blogging is now also part of the“package”.

Thanks ITWorldCanada – Shane, Anna, Jeff and Vince to name a few -and my fellow Blogging Idols.  It has been a slice, and I look forwardto another night at Paupers, where we can share some drinks and reflecton the last 6 weeks.  It has truly been an experience that has not justmet, but exceeded my expectations.   I hope that “next time around hereat BI” there will be a way of moving beyond just traffic to “building acommunity”, which would have a different metric, and perhaps a contestwith a longer time horizon.  Perhaps that would help address that“Canadian je ne sais quoi” cultural piece — Canadians after all are allabout “community” and less about “the 1-way soap box” platforms.  Forme, the “comments” are what I wait for after a blog post.  No commentson a post, makes for a sad, forlorn post – in my eyes.

And this Twitter thing – boy, was I ever ”wrong” about this medium coming into this contest and didn’t I do a full 180.  Thanks to vijayfor “setting that bar high” – 4 “articles”, all over 1000, 14,000+hits.  If you had posted a few more…you can do the math.   My eyes havebeen opened wide on that one….

Cardoso signing off – for tonight only.  In the meantime, why do you blog? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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