Blog Advocacy

If you think, “Oh no, not another blog about blogging!”, don’t worry. I know how you feel. A couple of months ago I chose to break out of being yet another news-mirroring-service as the traditional weblogs are: “You gotta read Dan’s opinion about this blog post somebody wrote about an article about blogging in the news!”

No, I intend to get some people to start weblogs that actually have something interesting to say, in particular some professors at my university. The main reason for me is that I’d like to know what’s going in the other rooms of our building. For the software engineering department I roughly know what kind of research they do, but I’d like to know more about it. If they got new papers out, I’d want to know. Today they have a website, but that doesn’t update often and is hard to keep track of (I’m spoiled by RSS).

So… I need reasons for them to start blogging. Keeping the little group of students that care informed probably won’t do.

What were the reasons I started my blog? Initially, because there were articles I wanted people to know about. Until then I posted those on some forums, but it wasn’t really efficient. That’s why I started my blog. The beginning is the hardest. What fun is it to put effort in posting interesting articles if nobody reads them? “Scoble gives some tips on how to get your blog discovered.”:http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/09/19.html#a8241 What worked quite well for me is putting the latest headlines of my website in my signature on various high-traffic forums. Like this (don’t worry, I’m not redrawing it myself every day, the image is dynamically generated every hour):

ZefHemel.com signature image

What’s to remember is that, particulary at first, you need stamina to pull it off. Nobody responds to anything you say? Just keep going. Too many blogs start with a couple of posts and then just die out. It’s a pity.

What could be a reason for you to start a blog?
* *You like to keep friends and family informed of what and how you’re doing.* Note that this is the kind of blog that’s easiest to keep going. You have an audience that you can reach easily, for example by calling them and telling them about your blog. But the audience is never going to be big. Unless you’re something famous, that is. I’m sure everybody wants to know what Britney Spears had for dinner tonight, don’t you?
* *You often read interesting articles that you want others to know about.* This it the traditional kind of weblogging: you log what websites you’ve been visiting that day.
* *You have opinions on things that you want to share.* These are most interesting to me, they often contain new insights, things that you hadn’t read on thousands of other weblogs.

Blogs can have many advantages for you as a person. If you’re doing research it is a nice way to expose your work and maybe even find sponsors. Also, if you’re running a company and have a blog, potential customers might learn more about the company you’re running. If you appear knowledgeable in your posts, they may buy your products or services faster, because they know who’s behind it. Most well-known example is Joel Spolsky. Although his site, “Joel on Software”:http://www.joelonsoftware.com, might not entirely qualify as a blog, it does show he’s not some teen that wants to make a buck by hacking some code together. Because I think his articles are very insightful, I’m pretty sure his software must be good aswell. Same goes if you’re looking for a job, if some kind of recruiter finds your blog and sees what your interests and experiences are, they might want to hire you. So, you can let your blog function as a marketing tool.

So, can anybody make up any more reasons for researchers to get an academic researcher to start blogging? The biggest reason for them not to, obviously, is that it takes time. So I need something that’s makes it worth it. Does anybody know of any researchers that blog? I know only a couple.