Tony Karrer has been prompted by a couple of posts to consider whether use of web 2.0 technologies is viewed as wasting time by others. He asks:
Do people have enough time to use these tools? If so, does that mean that they are somehow not the people who are already "too busy" at their jobs? Are the only people who will use the tools exactly those people who the organization views as time wasters, tinkering about, etc.
Although he's talking about web 2.o technologies, I'll narrow it down to just blogging for some consideration. I have some sympathy with the people who think it is only for those with too much time on their hands, because I used to think the same. Something along the lines of 'oh yes, it's fine for them to spend their whole day blogging, but I'm actually busy writing a course.' And I do still wonder how some people who have ten posts a day find time to do anything else. But of course I've come round in my thinking, even if I'm not the most prolific blogger on Technorati.
So, if you do think blogging is a waste of time, or you don't have enough time, let me try and convince you otherwise. Firstly, you should be prepared to put in some initial bootstrapping effort. Your blog won't be widely read overnight (if ever), and the paybacks I'm about to list need some critical mass of postings I think. It helps if you've got a project to specifically link to so you have some momentum behind it. For instance I was writing my VLE book when I started mine so I had lots of stuff in my head to get out. There are lots of benefits in terms of reputation, marketing yourself, indirect payment (e.g. through consultancy) etc, but here I'm just going to concentrate on the ones relating to time.
i) You can direct people to your blog and save having to produce reports or documents. I often get in to conversations with people and they ask me to summarise things in an email and I simply send them to my blog, maybe with a specific tag e.g. 'look at the stuff I've written under the VLE tag'. It is probably still some way off, but in the future I would like to think that instead of producing a CV and letter of application for a job you could just send someone to your blog. That should give them a much better indication of whether they want to employ you.
ii) When you get in the habit it speeds up the process of recording your thoughts on events. I often sit in conferences or workshops thinking about the blog posting I will do (or sometimes actually doing it). This saves me having to write up notes afterwards and also helps me focus on what is important.
iii) It provides an easy dissemination point. For example I usually put up my powerpoint on Slideshare and link it in my blog. A lot of people know this, so if they have missed a talk or want the slides from a talk they don't bother emailing me, they simply go to the blog.
iv) For the organisation it provides a knowledge transfer route. Now I'm not suggesting we do away with all workshops (biscuit suppliers need not fear for their trade), but an organisation that has a good set of regular bloggers has an efficient means of knowledge sharing which might be time consuming to realise in other ways.
So that's my reasons for how it repays the time spent on it, and that's not considering all the other benefits. I'm off to read my blog roll now...