I recently attended a conference on weblogs (www.jupiterevents.com/blog/spring03/index.html) and I am more convinced than ever that every design engineer needs to have one.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept, here's a quick definition: A weblog—blog for short—is an online diary of sorts that usually features daily postings that include links to other sites and provides commentary on articles in the media.
Some weblogs are extremely opinionated. Some weblogs are extremely personal. And some of the best weblogs are extremely effective at pointing a community to information they need to know, in essence saving people the time of sifting through the tsunami of material on the Net. The website Technorati features a list of the top 100 weblogs (www.technorati.com/cosmos/top100.html) ranked by how many other weblogs link to them. Number two on the list this week, http://slashdot.org, is one of my favorites.
Nobody knows how many weblogs are actually out there—estimates range from 100,000 to 1.5 million. Each one is as unique as its author. But what they all have in common is that they offer an unprecedented opportunity for members of a community with mutual interests to interact with one another. Just check out Slashdot and see what I mean.
Some critics say that a major shortcoming of weblogs is that the information they contain is not edited by a professional news organization. In effect, they suggest that weblogs do not have the credibility of real journalism. But conference keynoter Dave Winer (www.scripting.com), the founder of UserLand Software—a developer of weblog and content management software—argues that the credibility of a weblog is based on the credibility of its author. I agree completely.
When it comes to blogging about technology, I cannot think of any group that is more qualified to do it than engineers. By starting a weblog about whatever area of engineering you know best or some technical area you're interested in (You could even critique articles in technical magazines like this one!), you will connect with other engineers. Plus, you'll help set the record straight on misleading or incorrect technical information being generated by less credible sources.
When you start up your own weblog, or if you know of any good weblogs for design engineers, drop me a line. I'll add the link to my new weblog at www.karenfield.com.