I’m pleased to say that this blog has been shortlisted for the Computer Weekly’s “IT Blog Awards 2010: Individual IT Professional Male“.
As described on the Computer Weekly Web site this category is “for blogs that detail an individual perspective, not a company line, of life in the IT industry. Any male blogger working in IT below director level is eligible for this award“.
I feel that the UK Web Focus blog is ideally suited for this category – and not only because I’m male! The blog does provide my perspectives on best practices and emerging technologies related to use of the Web in higher education and the wider public sector – with the blog having been quietly launched on 1 November 2006 as a slightly subversive act having been embarrassed at the ILI 2006 conference for talking about Web 2.0 but not having a blog.
The blog has grown in popularity since then and is currently listed in 60th place in the Wikio list of technology blogs. But unlike many of the blogs in that list, this blog does not have a team of writers – rather it’s just me who has to take responsibility for the posts I publish. And, to be honest, providing a blog as an individual can be a risky business – not least because the lack of external QA processes can lead to sometimes embarrassing typos in the posts (did I really once write “pee-reviewed papers“?!). More importantly, however, is the need to ensure that the posts I provide do support my professional activities and are beneficial to the sector.
The approach I have taken to ensure that the contents of my posts provide value to the readers is to embrace openness and invite comments and feedback (and to apologise when I get things wrong). I have published a policy for this blog which describes how:
- The contents of the blog will primarily address issues related to the Web, including Web standards, innovative Web developments and best practices in providing Web services.
- The blog will also provide a test bed for experiments and for testing new services and provide access to discussions about the experiment.
- The blog will provide an opportunity for me to ‘think out loud“: i.e. describe speculative ideas, thoughts which may occur to me, etc. which may be of interest to others or for which I would welcome feedback.
- The blog will seek to both disseminate information and encourage discussion and debate.
- The blog will be used as an open notebook, so that ideas, thoughts and opinions can be shared with others.
The use of this blog as an open notebook is an important aspect – after launching the blog back in November 2007 (over 800 posts ago) I decided that rather than the blog simply having a dissemination role to support my day job I would use it to reflect on my professional activities and share such reflections with a wide audience. The blog also reflects the culture of openness I have sought to embrace, with all posts open to comments and all posts available with a Creative Commons licence.
Many of the posts have been written in my own time, sometimes at weekends and occasionally in the morning, before heading off to work. The posts reflect a number of my areas of interest including Web standards, a variety of aspects related to Web 2.0 and Web accessibility. I also often use the blog to provide reports on various events I have attended – and sometimes events I have ‘attended’ through my engagement on an event’s Twitter stream.
The blog does reflect my personal areas of interest, including rapper sword dancing (see the Wikipedia entry which I created if you are unfamiliar with this miner’s dance from the pit villages of Northumberland and Durham – just don’t call it Morris dancing!). But I also try and relate these personal interests to my professional activities. The blog is also informed by my political views, such as my thoughts on how the 40% cuts which are being applied across the higher education sector with affect the provision of institutional IT services.
The shortlisting of this log for the category of “blogs that detail an individual perspective, not a company line, of life in the IT industry” is particularly appropriate in light of the paper on “Moving From Personal to Organisational Use of the Social Web” which I will be presenting at the Online Information 2010 conference on 30 November. In this paper I describe how the successful “must read” blogs which I follow (including the OUseful, eFoundations, The Ed Techie, Learning with ‘e’s and Ramblings of a Remote Worker blogs) are not only hosted in The Cloud but also have a personality behind them which are reflected in the posts. These blogs, and, I hope, mine provide a valuable illustration of the ways in which IT professional who care about their work and wish to make changes for the better can to so without the need to be absorbed into a corporate infrastructure and bland institutional voice.
The following 17 blogs have been nominated in this category: Blending the mix - Insufficient Data - Brian Teeman - Eclipse on E - Great emancipator - Mainframe Update - Software Ruminations - Thom’s HeadSpace - Jason Slater Technology - Mark Wilson - Tech for Tesco - Jason Plant - Kris Hayes - Virtualised reality - I am Charlie Cowan - Steve Clayton – Geek in disguise and the UK Web Focus blog.
I think the UK Web Focus blog is the only shortlisted nomination from the higher education sector and possibly also the only blog from the public sector. A vote for this blog would help me to raise the profile of the sector and, in particular, the principles of openness, engagement and innovation which I have written about in, of average, four posts per week for the past four years. I welcome your support.