Wow, the launch feels like yesterday, or a lifetime ago. I liked the anniversary comments from Dave “Mr. Roller” Johnson and Linda “Ms. Keep b.s.c. on the air” Skrocki. Still, all these years later, I find myself talking regularly to journalists and pundits about Sun’s blogging experience, and I’ve listed off the upsides a million times but I don’t think I’ve ever published them here so I’d better fix that.
The Upsides · So, in no particular order:
It’s helped improve Sun’s image. Three years ago we were seen as a big faceless lawyer-bound monolith; now the world sees that this is in fact an unruly tribe of people, many of them really bright, maniacally focused on the tech and biz of IT.
Executives love being able to get their message out without having to route it through a journalist’s or analyst’s filtering function.
We keep hearing anecdotal stories from salespeople about being able to get in front of some prospect, or route around some obstacle, because of something someone read on one of the blogs.
We listen better. Like Bill Joy said, “Wherever you work, most of the smart people are somewhere else.” If I’m a smart person in Cleveland or Shanghai or Warsaw or Lima and I get a bright idea about something Sun should be doing, or notice with horror that Sun is doing something stupid, there’s no obvious way for an individual to talk to a big California computer company. On the other hand, if I’m reading some Sun blogger who writes about what I care about and I know the email@example.com rule, it’s the work of minutes to fire off an email. I get these all the time and I bet there are a hundred or two a month, in aggregate across the bloggers.
The morale-boost has been tremendous. Right at the moment, less than 10% of the workforce are actually committed bloggers to the extent of posting once a week or more; but the uplift from knowing that if you have something to say, it’s OK with the company for you to just go and say it to the world, that’s huge. Ask anyone who works here.
Downsides? · Really, it’s hard to come up with one. B.s.c. doesn’t cost much to run, nobody’s been fired that I know of, and while we have one or two minor flame-wars a year on the internal bloggers’ mailing list, it’s all quite civilized.
I’m pretty sure that in another half-generation or so, a company that doesn’t do blogging is going to look weird and maybe a little shady.