(mu)blogs are the new trades

Blogging and microblogging tend to get disrespect from folks who “just don’t get” the purpose for them and consider them at best mindless entertainment and at worst an attention-sapping pest.

As a second-generation programmer, I found that I “got” them pretty quickly.

My dad programs for embedded and industrial-control systems; I grew up watching him bring home stacks of trade magazines — not to read every article in detail, but to skim through as an environmental scan, updating his awareness of the state of the art. If anything the ads and editorials were far more useful to him than the articles!

As a web developer in the 2000s, I started to use blogs and microblogs much the same way: little bits of information here and there which fill in my background map of what’s current among my peers (say, everything awesome in web browser work).

One thought on “(mu)blogs are the new trades”

  1. Maybe I’m just one of those who “don’t get” it :-), but my experience is quite the opposite. Previously, software development (and usage) was done like a night at the pub – you chatted with those at your table, and when someone said something objectionable there (or at the neighbour table where other programs were discussed), you only had to speak up. Likewise, if you wanted to inform yourself on some issues, you only had to sit down and listen.

    Nowaways, the same amount of information is splitted over trillions of blogs, forums, wikis, etc. where no critical mass can ever be formed. It’s like a night at home with your friends: Very nice and cosy, but unlikely to brew up any creative answers (or even any answer) you had not thought of before. On the web nowaways, if you are looking for a solution to a problem and you find a webpage dealing with it, you cannot be sure that the solution posted there (or the claim that there is no solution) is authorative in any way while previously you could assume that if something was posted on the central mailing list, someone knowledgable would have objected if there had been any ground for that.

    Add to that the problem of redundancy. Previously, mailing lists and newsgroups were archived all over the web publicly and even privately by some users. When a meteor hit one site, another provided the backup. Today, if a blog or some other webpage with vital information is lost, it is likely lost forever. The recent PostgreSQL disaster might serve as a warning in that regard.

    So, while I share your “environmental scan” approach in my work, I do think that (micro-) blogs & Co. make it not easier, but harder to find those useful bits of information in a concise form between all the other data that clogs the web.

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