more blogs about buildings and food

Blahg Blahg Blahg

I gave a presentation on blogging — should you blog? why and how? — at Geek Girl Camp Cape Cod Thursday night. It was a first-time event, this Geek Girl Camp thing, and so it was hard to know quite what to expect.

I knew that it was sold out. There were 100 women and girls crammed into one conference room at the Heritage House Hotel in Hyannis.

Any event that succeeds in drawing over 100 women who are interested in technology, but consider themselves beginners, to an evening of speakers on a variety of wonky topics has to be deemed a success on some level.

The Digital Divide

Now, Cape Cod as a region is admittedly not the most technologically engaged.

As a region, the Cape is:

  • Home to a disproportionate number of seniors and retirees, compared with other parts of the US
  • Geographically cut off from the mainland, which is often more of a psychological barrier than a physical one
  • Composed of many diffuse neighborhoods, and few centralized downtowns
  • Dependent on a heavily seasonal economy, with a large population living at or near the poverty line

So the digital divide here runs wide and deep.

I do a lot of work with local artists in my line of work, helping them use technology, the internet, online communities, etc., to market themselves and their work, to make a greater portion of their income from their art, and to connect with and get support from other artists.

So I’m used to speaking about these issues to individuals and groups who are at least hesitant about technology, if not downright resistant.

That’s why it’s so useful to be tugged in the right direction on a regular basis by folks like Chris Brogan, who once again sounds the call in his newsletter to avoid talking about the technology in favor of talking about what it can do for people:

If you lead into the talk with words like “wiki” and “RSS” and “Twitter,” you might as well turn around and walk out. Business is about doing business, not learning new and amazing things.

It’s your job as the cool hunter to sift through it all, find the stuff that’s a good fit, and talk about how it applies to the way things are being done now.

Free and Easy

Talks about starting a blog (including mine) tend to include a song and dance about how it’s “free” and “easy.”

When of course it’s really neither.

Blogs take time, and your time is worth a lot. We only have a certain amount of hours in a day. If you spend a few hours blogging, that’s a few hours you didn’t spend on other parts of your job, or on your family, or on feeding the hungry, or sleeping or dancing or holding hands.

And writing isn’t “easy” for the majority of the population, either. It happens to be something I’m pretty happy doing, but that’s far from true for everybody.

I know that if someone went around talking about how solving simultaneous equations was free and easy, I’d want to smack them, hard.

So it’s really relative. And to people who remain skeptical, it is anything but self-evident that any of this is worth their time and the grief it might take them to learn it.

But at least ten of those women and girls assembled on Thursday night told me on their way out the door that their minds had been changed about the usefulness of blogs, and that they were going to start blogs that very night.

So we must be doing something right.

And maybe ten other people in that room heard my talk, and decided that nope, writing a blog right now wasn’t right for them.

And that’s a good result, too.

I’m less of an evangelist these days than an educator. Here’s what this thing is, here’s how it might help, and here’s why it might not.

Act accordingly.

What about you? Do you evangelize? Or do you do something else?


5 responses to “more blogs about buildings and food

  1. I completely agree that blogging isn’t free. As you said, time is valuable. In return for my time, the value delivered to me by my personal blog wasn’t outstanding in the beginning. Yes, I got feedback when it mattered, but it wasn’t entirely worth it. Luckily, I subsidized the value of that time because I genuinely enjoy writing, and hope that constantly writing made me better at it.

    Note the past tense used in that paragraph. Over time, the value of the blog grew into something more substantial. Now, I get a lot out of it. It just takes some time to build a post backlog and a readership.

    About evangelizing – I’m completely guilty of that. I’m a poster boy for ideas and services that I love, but I usually fail to make the connection to what people will get out of the idea or service. I’ll try to modify that behavior. Thanks for the wake up call.

  2. I really like what you said about subsidizing the cost of writing a blog because of the value you derive from the simple act and discipline of writing it. I completely agree.

    When I started blogging, I considered myself a pretty good writer. But if I were to look back at the quality my first year’s worth of posts, I would undoubtedly cringe.

    It was one of the most compelling motivations I had when I set out to blog: I wanted to commit to a regular, public writing discipline, so that my writing would improve.

    The other was loneliness. I had just moved back to my hometown, didn’t know anyone any more, and wanted to find like-minded souls through the internet and blogs.

    It worked.

  3. hello beth,

    found you via cape cod today post on geek girl camp, the local event i knew nothing about and i live downtown! what you wrote about the cape as a region is my biggest problem with it — it was tough returning here after 2 decades in burlington vt and is still tough after 10 years back…that being said, blogging is hard, time-consuming work easy to put on the back burner — and so many popular bloggers end up falling into evangelizing — i find when they become popular they become more self-conscious in their writing, almost to the point where they lose their true “voice…” and it seems to turn into a popularity contest of who can get the most comments to the profundity of a recent post…i could go on as i have been following blogs for about 8 years now…and like you “I had just moved back to my hometown, didn’t know anyone any more, and wanted to find like-minded souls through the internet and blogs.
    It worked.”

  4. I’m glad to read your points that blogging is neither free nor easy. I am somewhat of a social media/blog evangelist and think sometimes people lose site of the hard work that is involved in creating a successful blog. It’s great to hear you are educating this truth to others. As of late, the popular notion for companies and organizations is “let’s start a blog” — which is not necessarily the best or right answer.

  5. Great post Beth –

    I try to be both an evangelist and a teacher…and here’s why I do both.

    Some senior folks are championing social media or trying to figure out the market. To those people I evangelize tools that get them personally involved (blogging, Twitter, etc.) because I think there is real value to them in understanding exactly your point which is; it is not free but if they participate they will get to a personal Aha moment. Both will give them a much deeper understanding of what they are trying to do in an enterprise or for their customers – and the requirements to be successful.

    I also try to educate and like you – I think if I speak with someone and they leave the conversation deciding that social media is not for them right now, that is a successful outcome. There will be many companies that fail because they don’t commit the resources and time required to make their efforts successful and it is far better to wait than to fail because failing will make it harder to re-invigorate an effort later.


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