(Note: Ed Lee, the well-known EDA & IP industry guru, and I recently had an interesting dialog about blogging: its value and the notion of engineers commenting on them. We decided to simultaneously publish two posts on the subject. We hope you like them.)
It's been three years since I started blogging.
It wasn't my idea to become a blogger. I thought the word "blog" sounded sluggish, and I wasn't sure if my blog would bring value to my industry or my company. Always up for a challenge, I agreed without hesitation to be one of the first bloggers at Synopsys. Was I in for a surprise! Not only has "The Standards Game" become fairly popular, but I have made connections to some remarkable standards people in other industries. Blogging has been rewarding, exciting, and fun.
It's also interesting to look back on how much has changed in the past three years with blogging in the EDA and IP industry. When I started, there were already some pioneer bloggers such as John Busco and JL Gray. (Please forgive me if you were one of the pioneers that I didn't mention. Feel free to tell me--post a comment below.) They developed a following of readers who found them insightful or unusual. Then, a handful of EDA and IP companies (Synopsys was one of them) put their toes in the water and started company blogs.
In general, no one knew quite what to make of them. The debate over press vs. bloggers and putting bloggers into categories (independent, media, corporate…) ensued. Could bloggers be trusted? Should they be allowed in the hallowed press room? Should they be pre-approved and censored by corporate marcom overseers? Would they divulge the secret workings of the standards sausage factory? Were bloggers putting journalists out of business? The future of blogging in our industry was uncertain.
Yet people kept blogging, either for themselves, their companies, or their publications. And people kept reading their blogs. By now it's safe to say that blogging is here to stay for EDA and IP, as it is in so many other arenas. The internet has given everyone a platform from which to share their knowledge and opinions. Yes, that means there's a lot of stuff out there to wade through, but with tools such as Google Alerts and search.twitter.com you can easily filter the cacophony to find what you want to listen to. And journalists that you trust can aggregate it for you. (Ed Sperling's blog roundup is a good example.) Blogs bring value as evidenced by their continuing existence.
Just what is the value of blogging? Here are some of the reasons that I and so many others continue to blog:
Give and receive expert, unfiltered information
Get information immediately
Find sources of information and opinions to consume into cross-perspectives
Obtain viewpoints from others, including competitors and customers
Research, learn, and think beyond one's regular sphere
Fill a niche (who knew there was a dearth of information on standardization?)
Develop material for larger publications (e.g., books such as The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards)
Develop ideas for presentations (e.g., Brand Yourself!)
Can you measure the value? Believe it or not, measuring blogs (and other social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) is much easier and more effective than traditional vehicles such as press releases, mailed collateral, and print advertisements. While we can easily find out how many views our blogs receive, how long people stay on the pages, how many clicks are made on our URLs, and the geographic locations of IP addresses of readers, it's impossible to know how many people read a press release or a magazine ad.
So what about comments on blogs? We haven't seen the comment floodgates open up in EDA and IP. Yet the ones that do come in are gems. How can we bloggers get more of them? Allowing comments to be posted *without* moderation helps--sometimes. Asking readers to comment helps--sometimes. Writing about a controversial topic helps--sometimes. And then there are times when a person sends you a private email or walks up to you and says "I really liked your post" or "I don't agree with you". These comments, while not public, are as important as the ones that show up on your blog.
Maybe the anecdotal "1-9-90 rule" of social media is at play in EDA and IP: for every 100 internet users, there is one person writing content, nine people commenting, and 90 people just reading. (Anyone want to do this study for EDA and IP with me?) Perhaps engineers actually comment more than the average internet user--we don't really know. Or could it be that we engineers are just shy (present company excluded) or scared? There's surely a logical explanation for our commenting patterns.
Be sure to read Ed Lee's post
--he shares some additional interesting thoughts about blog commenting. As always, EDA and IP bloggers say, "Comment away!"
Karen Bartleson is senior director of community marketing at Synopsys, Inc. and author of The Ten Commandments for Effective Standards. Her blog for Synopsys is called The Standards Game.