Your blogs combine the personal and the professional to find the better you.
Everyone from the local banker to the grandma next door is writing one, and network professionals are no exception. You blog about work, family, games, obsessions and your good causes, all from that particularly "network professional" point of view, where posts about database system wars interweave with the political and the personal.
For James McGovern, a 37-year-old enterprise architect for a Fortune 100 company in Hartford, Conn., blogging is a way to secretly escape the sometimes stifling corporate culture in which he labors. His blog, "Thinking Out Loud: Thought Leadership from an Enterprise Architect, " is the perfect place for McGovern to take a virtual step out of his office and get a reality check.
"In a corporate environment, you get tempered responses to your ideas. In the blogosphere, if your idea just sucks, people will tell you very honestly what they think," McGovern says. "I come up with far-out ideas, and I need to have them validated." This honest and relevant feedback is, in part, why McGovern chose to host his blog at ITToolbox.com, a site that caters to the IT professional, eliminating the randomness of other blog hosting sites. "I know I'm not the only one thinking about" things like compliance, he says.
The father of two young children and a Kung Fu movie addict, McGovern sees blogging as a "progressive tool" that helps him do his job better. But he isn't above using his blog as a personal soapbox, either. One recent post - "The lies told by outsourcers!" - garnered much attention because in it he charged fellow bloggers with sugar-coating the outsourcing of IT functions and accused "most American companies who outsource IT" of sacrificing real customer service "to save a buck." Another of his posts apparently angered an ITToolbox advertiser so much that the host placed him on moderated status for a while, he says.
The freedom to air his ideas outside the censure of corporate political correctness fuels McGovern's desire to keep blogging. "People aren't necessarily getting the best answer. They're getting the corporate answer," he says. By putting his blog to good use, McGovern hopes to provide better answers - for himself and his readers.
The family man
If a blog entitled "My kids' Dad" gives rise to images of cutesy stories and family photos, think again. Stuart Berman, the aforementioned Dad, has a much larger purpose in mind for his blog. Berman, a 45-year-old consulting network engineer for a Fortune 1000 furniture manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a big believer in horizontal thinking, where ideas don't have to be about network engineering to help him improve his work.
For instance, one of his early posts details how a program on C-SPAN about globalization and international security got him thinking about network security. "There are lessons in history, politics and a whole host of other subjects that I can apply to security, or personal relationships and life in the corporate world," he says. "I believe I can be a better professional by learning about other fields and applying some of those lessons to my field."
Despite his interest in how blogging can better his work life, Berman doesn't actually post much about professional topics. One recent post examined the ethics of determining the winning order at his son's chess tournament, where his 7-year-old technically took third but was awarded a fourth-place trophy. Another entry detailed the quest to install a DVD player in the family vehicle. "Being in a profession that involves a lot of conceptual and symbolic work, there is something very satisfying about using your own hands to produce a tangible result," he writes.
Berman admits that he's addicted to blogging. "The time signatures [are often] midnight or 1 a.m. or some crazy hour when the kids have gone to bed and everything's calmed down. I'll be sitting there watching TV or reading a book and stumble across a good idea and start blogging about it, and suddenly it's 3 a.m.," he says. "My wife calls herself a blogging widow."
Berman also sees his blog as a legacy for his kids and would have loved such a record from his own father or grandfather. "I wish I could have had insight into what made them tick, what they cared about, how they thought and what kind of advice they would have had for me," he says.
That blogging about chess tournaments or books can lead to better job performance is obvious to Berman. "I'm looking to broaden my understanding," and if the six to 10 hours spent blogging every week can improve the 40-plus hours spent at work, then Berman says he's accomplished his mission.
Schaibly is a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at email@example.com.