About two weeks ago I realized that I was approaching 1,000 posts on this blog. Most of these have come in the last three and a half years since I left Microsoft. This is really the second version of the blog I started while I was working t here. Since that was a Microsoft owned site I lost access to it when I left the company. I thought maybe I should try and make post 1,000 something profound and important. I couldn’t decide what that should be though.
I thought about doing a post on artificial intelligence. And I though about doing a post on diversity in computing. Or the future or robotics combined with AI. Ultimately I decided just to write about a few lessons learned from blogging.
First off maybe around the reason I have a second version of this blog - never run a blog on a site that is dependent on your employment with a specific company. Oh you may be required to blog at a company site. I have an obligation to blog at the CSTA Voice blog because I am on the board and that is fine. But if you want to blog about things that interest you and that is an extension of you than you really want to keep ownership of the blog. You might get extra attention or traffic on a company site but in the long run your life and your work should be about more than the company you work for.
Secondly, you never know what is going to get attention. For the last year the post with the most traffic on my blog has been Interview Questions for Computer Science Teachers and I have no idea why. Second most is Programming With Blocks or Drag and Drop programming but I think I know why that is. It talks about a lot of products that people search for. Search engines are responsible for something around 60% of my blogs traffic. Their ways are mysterious.
Something of a corollary to the last lesson is that you never really know who is reading your blog. That person you know personally who you think of as your natural audience may not be reading. That famous (for some definition of famous) person who you think would never notice you might be a regular reader. The only ones you really know read are those who leave comments or who tell you at the occasional face to face meeting that they read. The message here is don’t worry about who is reading. Never get upset when you find out someone isn’t reading or get too excited when you find out someone you are impressed with is reading. OK you can get a little excited when someone “important” reads but never think poorly of yourself if that never happens.
Blog statistics are useless. They are amazingly unreliable. I look at two sets of statistics on this blog. They disagree by an average of 7 times. That is to say that one of them reports 7 times as many readers as the other. Just like you should not get worked up over who is reading or not you should never get hung up on how many people are reading. If you help one person with a post once in a while it’s worth it. In fact if you help yourself by making it easier to find things or by working though an idea by writing it out its worth it. In some ways blogging is its own reward.
Comments are awesome! Comments are how you really learn as a blog writer. Sure sometimes someone will really challenge you. They will tell you that you are wrong and why. Read those with an open mind. You may actually be wrong. It could happen. There is no shame in learning and changing your mind based on new information. Other comments will be in support of your ideas but will take them in new or improved directions. That’s terrific. Blogger says there are about 1,029 comments on this blog. More than one per post but many posts have no comments. Some of the comments were written by me and maybe they should not count as much. But they are part of a conversation and that is where the value is.
Blogging at it’s best is a conversation. Maybe it happens in the comments. Maybe it happens with someone else writing a related post and linking. Other times the conversation happens on Facebook or Twitter (both see announcements when a blog post shows up here). Sometimes it happens via email. Sometimes it actually happens in face to face communication. Imagine that! And sometimes it is really a conversation the author has with themselves. At its best it happens in multiple ways.
Thanks for reading.