Professional blogs by regular folks

It’s coming up on two years since I shelved a book idea on the professional uses of blogging. What I mean by that isn’t paid blogging, but rather blogging that represents your professional identity, narrates your work, and connects you to colleagues, to clients, and to the world at large.

I shelved the plan because I didn’t feel confident that the message would resonate with the vast majority who live outside the web 2.0 bubble, and I think that’s probably still true today. But I’m still mulling the idea, and when I find good examples of people who are using the blog medium in the way I think a great many professionals could be using it, I add them to this list: del.icio.us/judell/professionalblog.

Although recent additions to that list include Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor1, now U.S. secretary for health and human services, and John Halamka, the superstar health CIO, I’m really more interested in tracking professional blogs by the kinds of folks I mentioned in my original posting:

  • The coffee shop owner
  • The public works engineer
  • The middle-school teacher

If you know of good examples of professional blogs written by these kinds of folks, and are inclined to bookmark them or blog them with the tag professionalblog, I’ll catch them at this combined feed.


1 Former Utah CIO Phil Windley, a pioneer professional blogger, first introduced Mike Leavitt to the idea of blogging.

13 Comments

  1. Well, yes … my wife is a potter (not a blogger) but we have found an artist whose blog represents her identity as an artist and as a human being in so many marvelous ways that I keep forwarding links to my wife almost daily.

    Her husband’s blog probably counts as a professional blog too, but there’s something very different about the aliveness in the artist’s blog. I bet you read her too.

    Another potter and teacher who has just started blogging is in China (as part of work on an adult-learner MFA degree), but I don’t quite know how to tag it the way you mean. It is at http://smokieclennell.blogspot.com/

    Hmm, I must come out of the dark ages and learn how to use del.icio.us. (At least I am remember where the first “.” goes now.)

    Oh, you’ve got Rebecca, so I would at Kaliya Hamlin (Identity Woman), http://www.identitywoman.net/

    and danah boyd,
    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/

    and dorothea,
    http://cavlec.yarinareth.net/

    and Charles,
    http://www.charlespetzold.com/

    and that has me think of Ed Bott, Rick Segal and then Mark Andreeson, and I guess I need to learn how to tag blogs easily or otherwise add to your list. I know a jazz musician who has a web site but no blog — I should mention that to him — and that reminds me that Ottmar Liebert blogs very nicely, especially when on the road (not at the moment):
    http://www.ottmarliebert.com/diary/

    Maybe I’m not sure what the cut is for your professionalblog category. Not sure how I would fit, for example.

  2. “http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/ It’s high school but I think it is very much along the lines you are looking for in a teacher’s blog.”

    No ‘but’ required — that’s precisely the kind of example I’m seeking.

  3. “Maybe I’m not sure what the cut is for your professionalblog category.”

    All of the techbloggers you cite are of course examples (yourself included), but I find it’s hard to get non-techies to extrapolate from those examples. So I guess I’m looking for non-techie professional blogs.

    And yes, the “artist whose blog represents her identity as an artist and as a human being” — i.e. my wife Luann — is a great example!

  4. Although our local newspaper, the Fayetteville (NC) Observer, has been promoting blogs for some time to “flesh out” the various columnists/departments, it has recently made blogging capability available to all the candidates in the upcoming city council election. This may also be done in other areas of the country; nevertheless, it is new to me.

    This example may not fit your desire to explore the use of blogs representing professional identity, and heaven-forbid the concept of professional politicians, but the promoting of blogs by institutions/organizations to corral civic debate or collaborate is very interesting to me. The benefits of this approach haven’t totally been embraced by all the candidates. Some have been quite critical, going as far as to say that it is nothing more than a more sophisticated way to spread rumors. I see it as yet another tool in the communications tool bag, and in this specific case, a “higher stump” from which politicians can exercise their opinion and readers can make an informed decision. Those critical to participating in this concept tell me more about their position than they know.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/blog

    In the case of the public works engineer or teacher who takes it upon himself to share what he knows, this is admirable. However, think how much better it might be if a city council or “society of public works engineers or teachers” raised the principle that sharing knowledge with and providing visibility to the public should be an obligation, a condition of employment. The individual initiatives to promote professional identity are indeed admirable, but sometimes there has to be an institutional catalyst to reach the critical mass needed to benefit the greatest number of people.

    A question I often have is… What examples are out there of organizations that demonstrate the leadership and vision and motivation to drive people to use blogs (and other collaborative tools) to leverage what they know?

  5. Oh, another attorney, because a great article of his was at the top of my feeds this morning: Eric Goldman, who does great analyses of legal collisions related to cyberspace:
    http://blog.ericgoldman.org/

    Hmm, there are alternative techies, I suppose. I am thinking of some great photography bloggers – not just Thomas Hawk but Strobist and another guy who is into lighting. For these folk, Flickr and related services, and blogs are a key to business. I did a lighting seminar recently with the Strobist author. He’s on leave from the Baltimore Sun to see if he can do this sort of thing full time. You and David should be acquainted on general principles. Let me see:

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/ (His name is David Hobby, hard to find on his blog)

    http://lightingmods.blogspot.com/ (Rui Leal puts great material on Flickr, is conflicted about the IP aspects but “friends” everybody, posts terrific DIY tips.)

    Then there’s the editor of my home-town Newspaper, Mark Briggs. This is a young, tech-savvy guy but he may be more professional or different-professional than you have in mind (maybe more of a Naked Conversations aspect). I love what he is doing: http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/online/

    I promised my buddy Bill Anderson I’d learn to use del.icio.us, so I guess I should really switch over to that for any more of these gleanings.

  6. OK, OK, I finally did the del.icio.us thing. I will use your tag and see how it works. I’ll back up and tag some of the ones I’ve already mentioned too.

  7. “think how much better it might be if a city council or “society of public works engineers or teachers” raised the principle that sharing knowledge with and providing visibility to the public should be an obligation, a condition of employment. The individual initiatives to promote professional identity are indeed admirable, but sometimes there has to be an institutional catalyst to reach the critical mass needed to benefit the greatest number of people.”

    That’s a great point. I completely agree. And the motivations are entirely complementary. As the public works engineer you contribute to a city-sponsored blog which continues uninterrupted when you leave and somebody else assumes the job. Meanwhile if you wish to add to what’s said there, you can point to the city blog from a personal blog. Your online resume, years later, points to both of those sources, and others too.

  8. My favorite coffee shop in Kansas City has a unique owner. The blog isn’t regularly updated, but since he got into coffee from his international excursions, he’s created a diary with a few entries from the bigger trips.

    http://www.theroasterie.com/adventure.asp

    check view archive link. My favorite thing about it is how great it is to imagine what’s going on there, and it illustrates passion for the business.

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