Why I Blog

I’ve wanted to write about why I blog for a while, and I was recently encouraged to stop procrastinating by Mattias Geniar:

Much is said, and frequently, about why you should blog. As I find most such articles to be impersonal, I thought I might share the reasons and rewards that have driven me to blog and keep me going at it. So, why do I blog?

  • To express myself. Sometimes this means artistically – being creative and showing it off – but other times it simply means organizing my thoughts and presenting them to other human beings. This forces me to clarify my thoughts, construct an actual hypothesis, and begin to test it. The end result is a refined idea that can be actually be consumed by myself and others. This is especially helpful if I will be presenting the idea to my boss or coworkers, even when that is done in a different format or medium.
  • To improve at writing. Communication is vital in any relationship, personal or business, and the written word can be tricky to wield effectively. I write emails every day, but I had not written a long-form article since college (15+ years ago, at the time!) and not on deeply technical subjects. I like to think this has been paying off for me, even with non-written communication as I’ve become more methodical and self-aware of how I communicate in all forms.
  • For community. I consume a lot from a number of different communities – security, virtualization, automation, etc. – and I feel that a good citizen contributes back when possible. Maybe I only help one other person, but I hope that I enable or inspire that person to do something awesome – like get home an hour earlier to spend more time with their family that evening.
  • As a portfolio of work. We all need to keep a portfolio, resume, C.V., etc. A blog is part of that – even if I don’t view it as a portfolio, others may, so it’s in my best interest to treat it as such. I keep this in mind before hitting publish – is this something that I want other people to see? Is it of high enough quality? Does it say something worthwhile? Does it send a positive message? Will someone else want to read this, and would they be satisfied if they did? Set your bar high and make sure you’re hitting it every time you publish something.
  • For recognition. This isn’t a very altruistic reason, but it has contributed to my efforts. A desire to write well enough to have a popular blog used by people everyday isn’t a bad thing to aim for, is it? Page views also give feedback on who your audience actually is, not who you think they are, and helps you see how they react to various article types and formats. Stats drive my morale and motivation. I like seeing that my page views went up 10% for a week, it makes me more eager to blog again. If page views go down for a few weeks, I want to know why and do better. Use it as a healthy feedback loop for your writing.

The last two reasons may seem a bit selfish, but I think that blogging as an independent is in many ways inherently self-serving. Improving my writing probably benefits me even more than building a portfolio or gaining recognition. Regardless, we all have egos and by acknowledging how they drive us, we can harness our drive rather than be controlled by it.

However, the most rewarding reason I blog, by far, is:

  • For my future self. I’ve referenced my own blog numerous times and even it had it come up as a Google result when I forgot that I had already solved a problem. Writing, reading, and applying my own article is a great feedback loop. Do something, write about it, do it again based on the article, rewrite the article, repeat until accurate. All the assumed knowledge is discovered and added to the article, bit by bit, so that anyone can follow the process. This is a practice you can apply to general documentation, as well. I also follow my own blog articles to replicate the results from my lab work, in my work environment (e.g. everything puppet related). This is critical to me, as I can prove to myself that I really have gained an understanding of the subject matter.

If you’re looking at blogging anytime soon, think about what it is you intend to get out of it. It can be extremely rewarding, but only if you go into it with some awareness. Have fun!

February #IndyVMUG LiveTweeting / Future Meetings

IndyVMUG held their February meeting last week and I live tweeted most of it. You can check out the storify here.

I did not capture the dates for the next IndyVMUG meetings. If you’re close to Indianapolis on any of these dates, you owe it to yourself to try and make it here. We have great leadership and sponsors who make sure that every event is hosted someplace nice and has great content. The user conference in July will bring in over 1000 people, so if there’s one event to make, that’s the one. There should also be another 1-2 monthly meetings in April, May, and June, but dates aren’t set yet. Follow @IndyVMUG to keep up!

  • March 17, 2015 – Agenda includes PernixData and DataGravity, plus some undisclosed March Madness fun.
  • July 22, 2015 – A VCDX workshop hosted by Chris Colotti. Vital if you’re working toward your VCDX.
  • July 23, 2015 – Yearly User Conference. Check out the agenda and sign up when it becomes available.

To favorite or to retweet

The favorite and retweet buttons have distinct purposes they were intended for in Twitter, though of course not everyone uses them as our Twitter gods intended they be used.


This is how you accomplish two things: 1) Sharing a tweet you found worthy of sharing. 2) Promoting the author’s tweet for more visibility. Retweeting is a way of saying, “Check this out, I like it!”


A favorite is more like a bookmark. Instead of having to scroll through your timeline, a favorite is always available at https://twitter.com/favorites or under the Favorites button in your client of choice. You can use this to reference a tweet when you want to, or view a link in the tweet later on a different device, and then uncheck it when you don’t want to remember it later. Favoriting is a way of saying, “I want to look at this tweet later.”

Neither is a Like

Don’t treat twitter like the book of faces. Favoriting a tweet isn’t a way to tell other people that it’s a great tweet, in fact it won’t show up on your timeline and only the author will be notified of your favorite. Someone would have to be stalking you to check out your favorites, and while that’s a possibility, it’s not as noticeable as a retweet. Likewise, if you want to save something for later, retweeting it WILL make it show up on your “Me” page, but it can still get pushed further down the timeline, so it’s not as memorable as a favorite.

This isn’t obvious and it took me a while to figure out the difference, but there is one. I don’t expect anyone to change their behavior based on this – in fact, the twitterverse will disappoint me if the twitter announcement of this post isn’t favorited by everyone – but I just had to say something 🙂

Social Media Tips

This past week I wrote an opinion piece on the InfoSec community, which included some tips on using social media. I’ve distilled that very long section to a bullet list and added a few items.

  • Investigate your company’s social media policies and make sure you comply with it.
  • Seek out the proper audience.
    • Facebook – Keep in contact with friends and family and sharing all of your information with the world
    • Twitter – Work communities
    • Blogs – Great for introducing yourself to the world and sharing what you have learned
    • Google+ – Overlaps with the above, but less popular than the others. Future is in doubt
  • Get control. Understand the security/privacy posture of your chosen platform.
  • Listen first.
  • Share only what you want.
    • Check with your spouse and family before sharing info about them!
  • Find dissenting voices, don’t let it become an echo chamber.
  • Respect people.
  • You’re going to be wrong, accept it gracefully.
  • Make sure your contributions have meaning. Focus on creating novel, useful content.
  • Recognize others and promote their content.
  • Retweets, favorites, likes, +1’s, etc. all mean different things. Use the right one.
  • Make time for real life.
  • Have fun!