By Kevin O'Keefe

A business leader’s perspective on 10 years of blogging

Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, an IBM veteran of 37 years and later a strategic advisor to Citigroup offered his reflections on ten years of blogging in a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday (link to piece on personal blog without WSJ paywall).

IBM was launching a major blogging initiative in 2005. Given his association with IBM’s Internet strategy, his colleagues urged him to start his own blog. He was worried about the time and energy blogging would entail and whether he would have enough to write about each and every week.

The excitement pushed him over the edge. Dr. Wladawsky-Berger, now Chairman Emeritus of IBM’s Academy of Technology and visiting Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT has been blogging ever since.

His reflections may be helpful to lawyers and business leaders on the edge about blogging. Why blog? What is blogging? Should I continue to blog?

After two months of blogging:

At heart, blogging is very personal, intensely so. After all, this is all about writing: deciding what you want to write about, organizing your thoughts on the chosen subject, and finally, finding the needed ‘quality time’ to put your thoughts down ‘on paper.’ I did not anticipate how much effort writing this blog would take. I also did not anticipate how much I would enjoy doing it.

At the same time, blogging is all about community. Like so much in the last ten years, blogging has to be considered in the context of the rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web. You share what you have to say with others out there by posting your blog entries on the Web. You link to other people’s blogs and more generally to content on the Web. People out there somehow find and read what you write, and can post comments or link your entry to their own blogs if they so wish. Sharing what you have to say with other people and hearing from them is very much part of the enjoyment of blogging. It is this balance between the personal and the collaborative that gives blogging its unique flavor.

And today:

The weekly blogs I’ve been writing for the past 10 years constitute the overall narrative of my professional interests. They chronicle the different topics I’ve worked on over the years, as well as the different institutions I’ve been affiliated with. And, not being exclusively involved with one company in one industry, I’ve had the freedom to think, explore and learn about all kinds of new problems that interest me, many of which then become fodder for my blogs.

Blogging has added a significant degree of discipline to my fairly eclectic life. Given the different institutions I work with, my calendar looks very different from day to day and week to week. But the one constant is the weekly blog which I have been writing since May of 2005. Writing and editing each post consumes quite a number of hours each week, let alone the time it takes to think what to write about and how to best frame the subject. For me, blogging has played an important role over the past decade, providing a structure and a narrative to my otherwise, unstructured professional life.

Dr. Wladawsky-Berger thought a piece in The Atlantic by Andrew Sullivan, himself an influential blogger and commentator nicely captured the informal and empowering nature of a blog.

This form of instant and global self-publishing… removes from the act of writing any considered or lengthy review. It is the spontaneous expression of instant thought – impermanent beyond even the ephemera of daily journalism. It is accountable in immediate and unavoidable ways to readers and other bloggers, and linked via hypertext to continuously multiplying references and sources. Unlike any single piece of print journalism, its borders are extremely porous and its truth inherently transitory.

Self-publishing — spontaneous expression — personal — enjoyment — community — collaborative — sharing with others — hearing from others — narrative of my professional interests — structure and narrative to my life.

Powerful reasons to blog.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Tom Foremski

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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