Tomorrow is a blogging anniversary for me, but not the kind people normally announce on their blogs. This blog began on July 3rd, in 2011, but I had been blogging for over two years by then. My first blog post was on March 30, 2009. Earlier that month, I had given a presentation about how we (the company I worked for) were using Microsoft SharePoint to help us with Content Management. During the Q&A of that presentation, a woman asked me if I had a blog. I did not. She said, “I think you should start one, because you have such great stories.” There was a modicum of applause and I began looking into blogging.
“SharePoint Stories” was launched on Google’s Blogger platform, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I decided to focus on what that woman liked, stories. You see, there were lots and lots of technical blogs about SharePoint. I didn’t see any point in trying to compete with people whose blogs I was frequently turning to for advice. I knew from the presentations I had given, that I had an advantage. I made mistakes, and I could talk about them.
People liked hearing about projects that failed. Well, failed isn’t the right word – most of the projects were ultimately successful – but our projects tended to be rocky roads, and I don’t mean ice cream. Consultants in the content space didn’t want to talk about failure. Businesspeople in large organizations didn’t want to talk about failure. Microsoft employees certainly didn’t want to talk about failure – in fact, it was made clear to me that Microsoft didn’t appreciate me talking about failure.
But failure is how we learn. At least it has always been a big part of how I learn. Still, standing in front of an audience and explaining how my project went off the rails, into a field and was threatening a small city, was a little scary – especially since my presentations had to be approved by my boss. He looked at the slide deck of one presentation and jokingly said, “do I pay you to do this?” But he understood the value of failure and the value of trying to do new things.
Fairly early in the life of that blog, I started introducing personal stories. One of the other things that I could do, as a “user” was to talk about other people. One of my early blog posts featured a quote from James Whitlock, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force Medical. He was talking about an Air Force information portal and he said :
“If your site isn’t useful, people won’t use it.”
That struck me; I mean Air Force – people have rank, they give orders, they carry weapons – if they can’t make people use things, who can?
That made me think about the work we were doing in the office, and it made me think about blogging. If people didn’t find value in what I wrote, why would they read it? But they were reading it. Apparently, people liked what I was offering, which was, according to the tag line of that blog,
“Observations ◦ ideas ◦ things I’ve learned the hard way ◦ things I’ve learned from others and things that drive me crazy about Information Management.“
It wasn’t long before I was including lyrics from Ten Thousand Maniacs, lessons I learned while pursuing a degree in chemistry, observations from my vacations, images of furniture that I had made, lessons I learned in my father’s workshop and lessons I was passing on to our daughter in my workshop.
Although I published posts on Saturday morning, historically, that blog’s most popular time was Monday at 11:00. My rationalization of that time was, “people get to work, clear their desk and their inbox and then read my blog – yay!” Yeah, I kid myself.
The nicest compliment I ever received was when a friend, and bona fide SharePoint guru, Marc D. Anderson said that SharePoint Stories was “a Saturday kind of read.”
I thought about that comment a lot, and I realized that that was what I wanted to write. Something people would enjoy reading on a Saturday. Thursday mornings have surpassed Saturday as the most popular time for No Facilities, since I started hosting Thursday Doors, but Saturday has always been the best day for my stuff.
See you at the bar.