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May 28, 2008
Meme: How has blogging impacted your work?
I never feel chained to the computer
While driving home tonight I began pondering this week's blog entry. As I considered various topics, my mind wandered back to the events of the day—events that included more than the usual number of e-mail and phone calls, many of which included some mention of the blog. Sitting in traffic I started thinking about how this blog has impacted the work I do here at Case Western Reserve. This in turn made me wonder how blogging impacts others.
To find out I'm starting this meme. Here are the rules:
If you blog professionally, or even semi-professionally (this would include students blogging on their field of study) and you think participating in this meme would work with your editorial agenda, please do the following:
- Write a blog post describing how blogging has impacted your work. (If you have any data on how it has affected your audience and how it reflects on your organization feel free to include that as well.)
- Post the link to your entry in the comments area below. (If the spam filter gives you a hard time, just paste it in as plain text or email it to me, and I'll make a list of these links at the bottom of this entry.)
- Tag 3 or more bloggers you think should also participate.
- Link back to this blog, so we can get more participation and keep track of who is posting entries.
And now to get things started, here's are my thoughts on the topic.
3 ways blogging has impacted my work
Blogging as customer service
When I started this blog, my intention was to use it as customer service tool that would provide how-to resources to the the various Web developers here at the university. As the content has accumulated this has worked out rather well. Regular readers know they can peruse the blog in search of answers to many frequently asked questions, and if something isn't here they can pose it to me as an entry for the future. This saves me time and makes it easy for clients to find the information they need.
It's a great place to post announcements and instructions for procedural changes, such as those we've recently experienced with the new server, and it's a place I can send callers when they need a tutorial on how to crop images, upload files, etc.
Most importantly though the blog can educate clients so that we can work together more effectively. Today, for example, I received a call from a woman who wants to update her department's site. The site is a bit old and she wants to be able to manage it herself so that she can add materials easily and focus the content on the needs of her own clients.
When she called me this afternoon she had already perused the blog. She'd read through a lot of the material and already had a good sense of how she wanted to take the site to the next level. In our short conversation we came up with some next steps for her to take and planned to meet in a few weeks after she has followed them. Although Web development is not her field, she'll be sufficiently versed in the subject so that when we meet we'll be able to work together to construct a productive plan.
The Case Blogging system provides tools and features unavailable in a static Web site.
I often hear from clients who want to include a feature in their site that would normally involve a database and some sort of complex programming that we don't provide on our server. As we examine the actual goal it is not uncommon to conclude, "I bet we could do that with a blog." Not only does the blog provide the tagging, archiving or whatever else they need, but it also makes it easier for their staff—usually unfamiliar with HTML—to enter their own content.
RSS lets the world know when new content is ready. While visitors can't easily tell when, or if, I've had added new material to our Web development site, those who subscribe to the blog know exactly when this happens. I can also use the RSS feeds to provide fresh content to other sites. For example, I pull in the headlines from the Web development blog on the Web Toolkit as well as on our Web Development page on Facebook.
Although this is the only work blog I write myself, I work with a number of sites that use the Case blogging system. At the end of 2005 I moved the Case News Center to the blog server. Where in the past we'd have to create a new page and update various index pages or menus, now we just add an entry. We still post them in HTML, but using the blog has been a great time-saver. It also offers convenience to readers. Whether they're members of the media, or alumni trying to stay in touch, they can subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed.
To teach—via blog or otherwise—is to learn
Case professor and blogger, Mano Singham, has said that the act of blogging helps him to formulate his thoughts and fine tune ideas that he may use in future projects. I find it also helps me to learn. In a field such as Web development I need to keep up-to-date on technology, social media, marketing, etc.—whether by attending conferences or teaching myself.
In this spirit I read any number of blogs and online resources, but I find I learn the most when I'm trying to explain something to you, my readers. Although I usually have a good sense of my topic when I'm writing, the desire to be thorough and accurate also requires me to do further research—to understand the topic in greater detail and to see if there have been new developments in the field.
Once these thoughts have assembled in my head, it is the act of translating them—into something that will make sense to you that—really brings it all together. If I can explain a topic clearly to others then I know that I've mastered it too.
Back in college, one of my professors used to say that the reason he could keep teaching the same subjects year after year was that he expected to learn as much from us as we would from him. I think blogging is similar. I learn from the process of writing as well as from the insightful ideas you all share in the comments. There is something very satisfying about the whole process.
Tag: you're it!
To get things started, I think the following bloggers could add some interesting insights to this topic. (It's more than 3, some of whom are super busy, but I thought I'd dream big.)
How has blogging impacted your work: meme participants
- Reading better, writing better, working better?, Andy DeSoto
- Reflecting on the Impact of Blogging on the Work of a CIO, Lev Gonick
- Technology Trends & Opinion — the Blah, Blah! Technology blog, Wayne Smallman
- The Six Month Post - Revisiting This Blog’s Purpose, Kyle James
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