Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is it a good idea to write about your work on your personal blog?

Recently I attended a presentation by Marie Wallace telling people how to "tackle" social media. She made the point that it is important to have a clear idea for what your goal is for using social media or else you won't achieve it. During the subsequent discussion it became clear that most of the people attending the talk were planning to write primarily about the things that they are working on and associated social networking and blogging primarily with  advancing their career. In addition they didn't really enjoy using sites like Facebook and preferred to only use sites like LinkedIn with a more business orientation.

I enjoy engaging on social networking sites and my motivation is more personal that career oriented, but the discussion caused me reflect to  upon my motivation is and what I blog about. As I looked through my old posts I noticed a post which I wrote about a year ago analysing my motivation and this is generally still accurate a year later. However, I was surprised how few of my blog posts mentioned IBM or the work I do for them.

At a rough count, my blog post fall into 3 categories:

  1. Roughly 20% have something to do with IBM or the projects I work on. I included anything vaguely work related in this category e.g. I wrote several posts about the Young Scientist Competition which are not really related to my work, but I counted them because I got involved through IBM's sponsorship of  the event. 
  2. About 50% were technology related posts that had nothing to do with my work (e.g. reviews of mobile phone  applications) .
  3. The remaining 30% non-technology related (e.g. expressing opinions about politics or sport)

Since I spend well more than 20% of my time thinking about my work I would have predicted  that (due to simple statistics) a higher percentage of my output would be work related.

I make no secret about what I work on, but my reasons for not writing about work relate to two main reasons:

  • If I write about IBM or an IBM product I find it rad to get the right balance. If I a praise the company too highly it sounds contrived, but if I am too critical of an IBM product/policy it might have negative consequences too.
  • It takes me longer to write about a work related product because I feel that people will expect me to be accurate and check all of my facts. For example if I was to write a technical article for DeveloperWorks about a product I was working on, I would typically expect to spend several weeks getting it exactly right. In contrast I can write a comparison between RunKeeper and MyTracks in a much shorter time and I don't feel obligated to double check any of my statement since I don't claim to be an expert.

After reflecting upon this a little, I decided to keep with my current balance of allowing personal posts to predominate on this blog. After all I have plenty of other forums in which to write about my work. If articles are published elsewhere about stuff that I am working on, I often promote them to friends and colleagues by sharing on Facebook and/or Twitter. Perhaps I in the future I will try remember to also cross post to LinkedIn, since this seems to be more popular with my generation.


  1. Interesting to see the mix of posts there. As an IBMer myself, I can appreciate your caution around writing about your work stuff here. Great to see other's viewpoints on this.

  2. Thanks for the comment Mike. I cross posted this to my internal blog with bonus content for IBMers