For those about to blog, we salute you

For those about to blog, we salute you. In my InfoWorld column this week (“Blogging behind the firewall“), I write about a small but really amazing outpouring of information-sharing in InfoWorld's IT department since we started a group weblog a few months ago. After I filed my column, I came across a Jon Udell column (“Publishing a project weblog“) on roughly the same subject (with slight differences which I'll get to in a moment) — about a year ahead of me, as Jon tends to be. In my experience so far, weblogs work best as documentation repositories in the spirit of what Scott Ambler has written about as “agile documentation,” a concept I also discussed recently.

Scoble wonders what we write about in our internal InfoWorld weblog. Here are a few recent headlines to posts with some background info in parentheses:

  • Vacation – IT staff (a scintillating view into the summer vacation schedule for InfoWorld's IT staff)
  • Long-term equipment plan (5-year plan for Test Center capital spending)
  • FY 05 Capital budget planning (our purchase plans for web site scaling, desktop/laptop replacements, etc. for next fiscal year)
  • Oracle migration procedure (a step-by-step explanation of what we did to upgrade from Oracle 8i on Solaris to Oracle 9i on Linux for our CMS)
  • Firewall settings (see why this stuff isn't public?)
  • MX record trick to fake out spammers
  • InfoWorld: Behind the Music (a link to a Quicktime video clip of various members of the InfoWorld IT team rocking out during a recent off-site retreat, shot with an iSight camera — see the photo of Wade Grubbs — our systems administrator and resident musician — with this post)

That last item, while the least related to IT operations, actually might be the most important post in our weblog because it illustrates how weblogs can transcend the dryness of “knowledge management.” Traditional documentation is never fun, but weblogs often are. Traditional documentation rarely (if ever) reflects the spirit of your workplace or the personalities of the people who make IT happen everyday, but the weblog medium leaves itself open to more looseness and real humanity, which is what well-functioning teams are all about. If I was reading a traditional piece of documentation and the author placed a picture of Wade rocking out on guitar in the middle of it, it would seem out of place, but on our internal weblog, which is about real people, it makes total sense.

I've always heard that running IT is about three key things: people, process, and technology. Process and technology have always been part of the discussion, but weblogs really help bring the people forward — not to mention some solid guitar chops. [Chad Dickerson]

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