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May 29, 2008

Reflecting on the Impact of Blogging on the Work of a CIO

I have been blogging in this space since November 2004. At various professional meetings like the CIO Executive Council and Educause gatherings I have had the opportunity to share thoughts on the impact of blogging in the workspace. Sometimes the panel conversation is framed in terms of 'whether' we (as CIOs) should support workplace blogging. Alternatively, we've discussed the impact of blogging in the world of higher education. A good example of the later is captured in Inside Higher Education writer Andy Guess' blog on Case Western Reserve University's Collaboration Technology and Campus Engagement Summit.

Yesterday, Heidi Cool in her blog posed the question "how has blogging impacted your work?".

Over the past four years or so, I have tried to use Bytes From Lev as a platform for three arcs of activities that I see as germane to my work as University CIO. First, I have attempted to use the blog as a vehicle for raising issues and offering commentary to the professional technology community at Case Western Reserve University. Most every CIO in Higher Education will share that not withstanding the explosion of electronic communication one can never communicate too much, especially to one's colleagues in the IT organization(s) across the campus. IT organizations remain largely hierarchical in their nature and is as often the case, communication does not flow as naturally as I might want across and down the organization. Using the blog is not a substitution for various face-to-face exchanges but I hope that the community of IT professional at our university who care to read my blog from time to time will have a sense of the 'big' issues that help frame my daily work and possible derivative impact on the lives of other IT professionals. I think leading by example and using the blog as a communication device is an attempt to 'lead from the front'. I have encouraged others to consider the same approach.

Second, our University has an important role in the life and aspirations of the broader community in Northeast Ohio. Through various activities, including the use of Bytes from Lev, I have attempted to reach out to the community around NEOhio to share in the development of a vision of a "connected community." My underlying conviction has been and remains that the long term health and well being of Case Western Reserve University is inextricably linked to the health and well being of Northeast Ohio. The future of NEOhio is intimately connected to the process of re-imaging, re-inventing, and re-invigorating what we want to be in the 21st century. An intelligent, innovative, creative, connected, and educated community capable of charting its own future in the digital age is an important part of our future. I have used my blog as a platform for advancing insights and attempting to provoke dialog where I can on this portfolio of topics.

Finally, I have long believed that an additional piece of advocacy and leadership that CIOs are compelled to engage in as part of our professional obligation is to educate the public and our civic leaders. In particular, I have used this blog to advance my work as CIO to comment (sometimes at length ;-) on the importance of next generation broadband connectivity and advanced technologies as part of a critical strategy for American competitiveness and for support for the vital role of higher education in a wide range of public goods from basic science to educating critically reflective citizens. CIOs have a tendency to bemoan the lack of knowledge and sophistication of the public and our civic leaders around technology and public investment in technological infrastructure. I've tried, in a very modest way, to use Bytes From Lev as a platform to invite readers to glean insights on issues that might inform their work in various settings. A week doesn't go by in which a church committee, a civic organization, a staffer for an elected official or a journalist or analyst doesn't contact me for follow up on topics raised in the blog.

Blogging is one important tool in the professional repertoire of the CIO. The blog is a symbolic representation of my personal conviction to try and be transparent in my communication and management style. It is an invitation to collaboration whether here on campus, in the geographic regional of Northeast Ohio or beyond national borders. I also lend my voice through the blog to the public education and leadership advocacy work that I think we CIOs have an obligation to attend to in an effort to frame discourse and decision making on campus, in the region, and around the country and regarding the future direction and responsibility of higher education.

Lev Gonick
Case Western Reserve University
May 29, 2008

Posted by lsg8 at May 29, 2008 08:06 AM and tagged

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