Why Blog?

WRITTEN BY Mike Cottmeyer

Anybody who pays attention to this blog knows… that for the most part… I write a lot. Its a pretty big commitment… and while I have gotten better over the past few years… I still sometimes spend 2-3 hours on a single post. So… one question I ask myself periodically is why I am doing this… and does it add value?
I wanted to share with you guys my thoughts around the reasons I’ve made a commitment to blogging:
I want to help others get better…
Somewhere along the way I missed my calling to be a high-school math teacher. Leaving high school… that is what I wanted to do… and really only decided not to teach because teachers overall are so poorly paid. Its somewhat entertaining to me that in my late teens I decided not to get a teaching degree and some 20 years later I have started a small private school and teach software methodology for a living. I think that I have that gene in me somewhere that loves to see the expression on someone’s face when they finally ‘get it’.
One of the things I consider a hallmark of my writing is that I always try to blend ideas and figure out how to make complicated things simple. I love trying to better understand stuff and present it to others in a way that is straightforward and direct.
I want to learn things for myself…

Most of what I write about is either directly or indirectly related to experiences I’ve had with clients or stuff I am talking about with folks in the community. Much of what I have been exploring the past few months has come out of my collaboration with Dennis Stevens and my attempt to apply some of those concepts in the wild. At the end of the day I am a problem solver… I need to know why things work. I need to understand where conventional thinking breaks down… and when it is time for something new.
I try to not to write about stuff that is half-baked… but there is definitely an element of noodling around and figuring stuff out as I go. If you see me get stuck on a topic… you can bet I have a real life problem I am trying to solve or looking for a way to better communicate something. I call those ‘series’ ;-)
I want to get better at communicating ideas…
As I am figuring stuff out… writing about it helps me get really clear about what I am trying to say. Some of what I am writing about now are ideas that I have been applying for years… I just didn’t always have the language to explain what I was doing to other people. The nature of my job requires that I am clear and articulate about ideas that can oftentimes be very difficult to explain. The act of writing forces me to clarify my thinking and develop language to express my thoughts.
By writing I gain a better understanding of what I am trying to say. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked a question where I fall back to language and ideas directly from some post on my blog. Hopefully all this thinking and writing and exploring helps others understand better as well.
I want to promote myself and my company…
While this isn’t the primary reason I blog… I am definitely focused on promoting VersionOne as a company and myself as a thought leader in the agile community. I would be lying if I said I didn’t care about my Google Analytics and my FeedBurner subscribers. I am very interested in my Page Rank and my Technorati authority. It’s definitely cool to see how my writing impacts the community… what gets re-tweeted… what gets shared on DZone. Along the way… I’ve learned a lot about when to post… how to post… and what activities will influence traffic and interest.
Regardless of that though… I think I would write no matter who was paying attention. It’s funny how doing this just kinda becomes a part of you. Blogging has become part of how I process information and form new ideas. I sincerely appreciate that you guys are along for the ride!
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3 comments on “Why Blog?”

  1. Bob Williams

    Thanks for posting Mike. I don't have the bandwidth to read all your posts, but I can tell that you put thought and energy into each one.

    At the end of the day, I know the interaction you get with others around your blog topics makes it worth your time.

    Reply
  2. Kevin E. Schlabach

    As I've followed your blogging over the last year or two, I find myself trailing behind you by 6-9 months in what I learn from blogging. These are all the same reasons why I do it. I started because of the reason you list last, but have found the others to be more important.

    (and I'm another high school math teacher that missed his calling)

    Reply