Tell The Joke Again – Blogging On Blogging

I just returned from a meeting with some of my peers at SolidQ and we were talking about the value of blogging and publishing articles.  A few days ago, another one of my peers asked me to review his first-ever blog post before it was published.  Douglas McDowell, CEO of SolidQ North America, shared a blog post he wrote earlier this year about his perspective on this, which I found quite insightful.  It’s about sharing information that someone has shared with you.  I now share this with you:

Tell the joke again

by Douglas McDowell

Have you ever retold a joke? Of course you have, we love to hear jokes and retell them. But no one ever tells the joke the same way they heard it, they change it to reflect their personality, make it funnier or fit a situation or audience better. A part of them comes through in how they retell the joke. And retelling the joke is usually as (or more) entertaining to the person retelling the joke as it is to the people hearing it.

The last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time doing one-on-one meetings with folks on the services delivery team, mostly around their quarterly plans for non-billable contributions and professional development. What a blessing that has been! It is tiring to spend your day in back-to-back meetings, but it I don’t remember when I have gotten to spend so much direct time with our people talking about how to make themselves, and in-turn SolidQ, so much better. The reality is that we all try to pack too much into our days, and it is far too easy to only focus on what has to get done and put off what could get done. But the stuff that could get done—but doesn’t necessarily have to get done—is often what is most valuable: investing in ourselves and SolidQ – the company that lets us do what we love to do.

A reoccurring theme in my quarterly planning discussions has been blogging. What a great way to reflect on who you are, where you are going and what you are finding along the way, and then reinforcing or exploring further your discoveries. Everyone I spoke with agreed wholeheartedly — but almost none of them blog, myself included. Interestingly, a common comment that people volunteered was that they do not feel like they have much new or worthwhile to blog about. Each time I heard this I directly challenged it. I challenged the notion that blogging was for the benefit of the reader… I think blogging takes a completely different form when the writer is a little selfish and writes it for their own benefit. After all, it’s their blog, its their own online journalism column about whatever they want to write about and the reader and “public” aspect of a blog is really just about accountability and sharing oneself with others. Wow, I started that concept with selfishness and ended it unselfishness. Guess that makes my point that I have convinced myself and have been trying to convince others that blogging is a win-win proposition for everyone.

I challenge you to tell the joke again.

Perhaps, if you started blogging today, you would not have a single new thing to tell the world. But I think the world would be worse off if we only told jokes we made up (painful). So… Retell a story. Explain how you figured out something obvious. Announce something exciting. Explain your reasoning behind your perspective. Share your epiphany moment, adding accountability to what you know you need to do next.

Go blog.​

Blogging on Blogging

So I must confess that my blogging efforts to date have been on the impersonal side – perhaps even a bit sterile.  I really admire bloggers who post daily and weekly, and seem to have interesting things to say about common and simple things.  In the coming year, I’d like to change my approach to blogging about SQL Server, BI, Reporting and all things related.  I’d like my blog to be more conversational and to read more like a journal and less like a textbook.  I had a chance to watch the recorded session from this year’s global PASS Summit on blogging.  A panel of some of the more prolific SQL Server MVP bloggers talked about their approach.  Folks like Buck Woody, Bent Ozar, Adam Mechanic and Rob Farley talked about the importance of sharing your personality while maintaining a balance between professional and personal information.  I’ve been writing technical books for over ten years and my blogging efforts have been in the same literary pattern as my books… if the content wasn’t complete and ready for print, it didn’t make it to the blog.  So, I’ll apologize up front for my future ramblings and incomplete thoughts as I make an attempt to become a more frequent and perhaps a less formal blogger.

With SQL Server Denali on the horizon for late 2011 or early 2012, I’m looking forward to some new book projects.  I won’t make any announcements until anything is official.  There are significant new developments in the works for the Microsoft business intelligence platform and improvements to the relational platform and tool suite.  The first public CTP was released in November but didn’t include a lot of new features.  The next Community Technical Preview that contains the cool stuff should be available to TAP program participants sometime in Q1 – which should be plenty to blog about.  Until then, I’ll continue to develop material around data visualization guidance and standards for the Microsoft BI platform.