It is fitting that my last blog entry for 2005 should focus on blogging. I think that years from now I will remember 2005 as the year when I started my personal blog.
In my very first entry, which was posted less than eight months ago on May 16, I said that I anticipated an exciting journey. It has been that and then some. For years I had resisted starting a blog because I thought that it would have been primarily an exercise in narcissism. But in the last year, I was frankly taken by surprise by the rise of blogging, and by the number of people I knew and respected who had started personal blogs. So, when colleagues at IBM encouraged me to start one myself earlier this year (when we launched the IBM blogging initiative), I finally took the plunge.
After a while, I developed a point of view on what blogging was about for me. At heart, blogging is very personal, intensely so. After all, this is all about writing: deciding what you want to write about, organizing your thoughts on the chosen subject, and finally, finding the needed "quality time" to put your thoughts down on "paper." I did not anticipate how much effort writing this blog would take. I also did not anticipate how much I would enjoy doing it
At the same time, blogging is all about community. Like so much in the last ten years, blogging has to be considered in the context of the rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web. You share what you have to say with others out there by posting your blog entries on the Web. You link to other people's blogs and more generally to content on the Web. People out there somehow find and read what you write, and can post comments or link your entry to their own blogs if they so wish. Sharing what you have to say with other people and hearing from them is very much part of the enjoyment of blogging. It is this balance between the personal and the collaborative that gives blogging its unique flavor.
Adding to my sense of being part of a "blogosphere" community are the blogging roundtables -- with other bloggers, members of the press, and just people interested in blogging -- that I have been part of in the last few months during trips to Mexico City, Palo Alto, and Buenos Aires, as well as at the Westport (CT) Public Library. There is clearly a lot of interest in the subject. For example, at the Westport meeting the question came up on how blogs differ from "standard" web sites. The answer I gave is that standard web sites are generally developed by institutions, like businesses, governments and media companies, more than likely written and edited by communications professionals, and relatively formal in nature. Blogs are personal, more informal and conversational and as such reflect the personality and style of the blog writer.
Blogging should also be considered as part of a broader and very important shift in the world – the rise of social networks. Many view this trend as part of the evolution of the Web, generally referred to as Web 2.0. I prefer collaborative innovation – but whatever you call this phenomenon, it represents a major change in how people and institutions function and interrelate. The Internet has now emerged as a platform for people to find and communicate with each other, share knowledge on a wide variety of topics, and self-organize themselves into productive communities to work on and solve problems.
I believe that blogging, like the Web itself, will find its niche in the spectrum of communications we each use. For instance, it takes considerably more effort to write a blog than to send an e-mail, since when you post a blog entry you are publishing information that is potentially being shared with many people, instead of the few you send the e-mail to. On the other hand, a blog is considerably less formal and more immediate than writing an article in a magazine, journal or some other "classic" publishing medium. Blogs are thus a kind of “informal publishing”, which is another big part of their appeal.
I am glad I started my blog. So far it has been a very interesting journey. I look forward to seeing where it leads to in the future.