When a blog is not a blog

by Volker Weber

Ed Brill has two blogs. One is private, one is hosted by IBM prominently linked from the Lotus home page. I would argue that the private blog is not private and the IBM blog is not a blog. I will not try to define what blog is, I just don't perceive it as one.

In my opinion the IBM "blog" is not a blog. It is PR done right. It puts a positive spin on Lotus products and events, but it does not follow the completely useless press release scheme. However there is hardly any interaction with readers, there are no comments, no trackbacks from somewhere else. Last but not least it is not updated often enough and is not connected into the blogsphere.

The "private" blog has all of that. It walks like a blog, quacks like a blog ... but it is not private. While Ed has all the glimpses of "Ed, the person" contrasting his "Ed, the IBM guy", he is not able to act freely. On an IBM site he would not be able to rant about MS TechEd as he can do on his own site, because IBM never does that. But there have been occasions where this has backfired. If you call somebody an idiot, and the idiot does not get back to you but to your boss's boss, then you are quickly in deep trouble. So he has to make a few tough choices. He can stay on the edge and risk the occasional slap on the wrist. Or he has to brace himself to IBM rules and do what he has done on the IBM blog and add some personal stuff. Today he has just hinted at the possibility that his IBM "blog" might go away.

vowe.net actually has the same issues. You will see me rant about many things, but you will never see me mention a client. I simply ignore those topics since they would interfer with my business. I have been asked occasionally by a client to cross over from consultant to journalist (or been warned not to do so), but I am keeping very strict barriers between those worlds. So there is vowe(consultant), vowe(author), vowe(public) and a few other domains that I never mention here. So while many of you may think that you know me, that is actually not true. You may know vowe, but you don't know Volker.


I should add that of course some of you know me quite well. But that is not because of this site.

Volker Weber, 2004-06-06

Ha ha! Should I rise to this? Oh go on then, I have a few spare moments.

Ed works for Lotus... what do you expect, to read that he hates their current product placing and direction?

Workplace is brand new, so I don’t know why you expect hug market penetration at this stage.

I’m a customer, I’m not confused... I think you had an excuse to be confused up until around Q2 last year, but if you still don’t understand what’s going on and where IBM / Lotus are going with Domino and all the rest, you’re clearly a lost cause.

Finally, if you think ND6 just gave us follow-up flags, I guess you really are a lost cause. Bring meat to your arguments next time, and maybe we’ll take you seriously ;o)

Ben Poole, 2004-06-06

calm down Ben, this guy probably only missed the tags in his post ;-)

Jens-Christian Fischer, 2004-06-06

hmm - html (or pseudo html is not supported ;-)

it said: irony-tags

Jens-Christian Fischer, 2004-06-06

But the blogs mentioned above will sput Nirvana

Sounds nasty!

Ben Poole, 2004-06-06

Gentlemen, please brace yourselves. Or else ... all the comments will be deleted.

Volker Weber, 2004-06-06

I'm happy to be a "schill" and "sput nirvana" (sic).

I've had a long and successful career at Lotus. I owe it in large part to the 1-to-1 contact I have with the broad Lotus and IT community on a global basis. I am, justifiably, proud of how Lotus has "come back" from being written off for dead...numerous times. Is everything perfect? No, but then we have a lot of really smart people always working on improving. Am I going to write about negatives in public? Not so much, though I do and have occasionally admitted failures and challenges on both blogs.

Mr. Fisher, I'm sorry you seem to feel personally burned by some of the past challenges with the Lotus story. I am always open to having honest and direct conversations with any of our customers -- dozens of my readers will attest to my responsiveness to e-mail and willingness to pretty much drop everything to fix problems when I can. You know where to find me.

Ed Brill, 2004-06-07

my point was, if you have concerns, there are ways to express them and (hopefully) obtain the kind of feedback that will clarify and provide confidence.
And why from the dead numerous times? Just because we've been #1 in collaboration in 15 years, and every new idea seems to think that it's going to kill Notes. Yet none of them have.

Ed Brill, 2004-06-07

That seems a little disingenuous, Ed. New products (regardless of quality) don't create the need for a comeback. This can only come from the loss of the faithful, failure to deliver, or being asleep at the wheel.

dave, 2004-06-07

Synchronicity? Just a day after you started this "nice" discussion Martin Roell discussed Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Online Communities over at his E-Business Weblog. What was fascinating to me - maybe I already "knew" it but wasn't aware of - after reading your post here and martins in succession, it became rather obvious to me that often the border between anonymity and authentification is not a sharp one - it's a continuum.

In your own words ...
... So while many of you may think that you know me, that is actually not true. You may know vowe, but you don't know Volker. ...

markus, 2004-06-08

I probably get a bit more personal on LotusGeek.com than you do, Volker, or even than Ed does on his blog - but I still rarely (if ever) mention customers by name, because my blog is not about my customers. My blog is about me, what I am working on, what it on my mind, etc. Sometimes it is a place to vent; sometimes a place to share; sometimes simply a place to gather opinions. And it is also a marketing tool for me and my business, which leads me to my next point.

Volker, myself, and many other blogs have a freedom not given to Ed - we are our own masters, we run our own businesses, and are free to say what we damned well please on our blogs. Of course we are ultimately responsible for the fallout of what we say, but it is our responsibility nonetheless, and reflects only against us (for the most part). Ed, OTOH, works for a large corporation - therefore ANY public persona that Ed manifests must, ultimately, stay loyal to that employer. You're not going to see Ed spew vitriolic references to his employer, because that would be career suicide; and if you were in his position, you wouldn't either.

So, we should cut Ed some slack. His personal blog is useful, at least to me, to get his "slant" on what comes down the pipe. And none of us should think less of him for being loyal to his employer.

And I'll leave the "shill" discussion to others :)

Rock, 2004-06-14

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