The topic of blogging independence is rearing its head again in the storage blog-o-sphere again, this time because some of the “independent” bloggers have been hired by EMC. I wanted to weigh in – reminding everyone up front that I work for EMC.
I think this whole idea of independent bloggers needs to be defined. Is there such a thing as an independent blogger? We all operate in small worlds. I’ve written about that before, but I thought I’d create a mind map to show you the small worlds that affect and impact how I communicate out to the rest of the world (Click the map to make it bigger or click here to go to map):
There is a different set of norms, a different language, a different set of expectations for each group. There are things we do to protect our insider status of our various small worlds. For example:
- I live in New England, but I will always consider NW Florida home. When I go home, I say yes ma’am and no sir, I would never do that in Massachusetts.
- If I’m talking to someone about deep technology, the last thing I would ever do is fake that I knew something. Fatal error – its a signal that you are not really a geek. Since I’m a woman many times I’ve been seen as an impostor to that circle, and have had to prove my competency (although this has been getting better with time).
- Since I’m in education at EMC, I know road maps of products. I knew what UIM was and where it was going before it even had a name. I needed that information to forecast equipment for training, make sure I was up-to-speed on technology, start making the connections I’d need later with the right engineers. I couldn’t talk about that product to people in my own group – let alone blog about it! I protected my membership in that small world because the ability to perform my job depended on it.
To keep our membership in these small worlds, we are required to conform to the group’s “signature”. That signature dictates how to deal with events, what topics are discussed (or are not discussed), how to interact, how to assign meaning to events, and how to deal with outsiders. Social pressure is applied to ensure that this signature does not change.
I think the problem we’re running into here is that we have established a new small world in this storage blog-o-sphere, where many of us are coming together from different and often opposing small worlds. The community is growing and thriving because we all share membership in other small worlds.
Where it gets sticky is when someone leaves one of the small groups that feeds our community and joins another. We all know inherently that this person will have to change. In order to be accepted in their new small world, this person will have to adapt their behavior to match the new group’s signature.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. I don’t think that the person fundamentally changes who he or she is. They just apply new filters in order to match the news group’s signature. The question really becomes – how will we in the storage blog-o-sphere construct our collective group signature when it comes to dealing with someone who changes small groups? I think figuring out this signature is behind angst that pops up every so often about this topic.
Here’s my suggestion – lets remember we are a very small but incredibly important industry. IDC says the digital universe will grow by a factor of 44 over the next 10 years, but the people in our industry will only grow by a factor of 1.5.
Guys – we are the people responsible for managing, storing, providing access to the world’s information. And there are not enough of us! I believe we need to acknowledge that even though membership in an intersecting small world will will bring a filtering requirement, we need everyone working together as a community to make the storage industry stronger. We need to find a signature that acknowledges we are slicing across other small worlds to bring us all together.