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Blarg #2: What do you think about weblogs?

Posted by jfalkner on October 14, 2003 at 3:38 PM PDT

Hi,

I saw your blog on java.net and thought I'd ask a couple of questions....

Do you think all Java/J2EE developers should be blogging, or just those that are senior, or in consultant roles?

Should blog-reading be for general education/feel of the "community", or do you think blogs are only useful when searching for answers to specific problems?

If everyone should blog, where do I go to get blogging? Is it necessary to setup blog software on my own site, or are there loads of sites offering blog capabilities to Java developers that I've so far managed to miss?

Regards,

lee

Hi lee, thanks for asking. I don't think I can fully answer your question, but hopefully I can provide a solid opinion and provide a place where others can add their thoughts. Since you squeezed a few questions in to one e-mail, I'll try to break them up before answering.

Do you think all Java/J2EE developers should be blogging, or just those that are senior, or in consultant roles?

I don't think it is my business to be saying who should and who shouldn't blog. As I understand it, part of blogging is that it is something anyone can do, and I think that implies anyone who wants to blog should blog. However, I would answer the question completely differently if you were asking if I think all blogs are helpful. I have formed the general opinion that most blogs are not good for trying to get work done.

Should blog-reading be for general education/feel of the "community", or do you think blogs are only useful when searching for answers to specific problems?

Again, I don't think I am the one to say what I think blogging should be for. Blogging is popular because anyone can do it and usually there is little to no peer review or editing of what someone blogs. That means blogging is useful for just about whatever a person can blog well about.

However, if we narrow down the question to only consider blogging as a tool to aid Java/J2EE developers. I would say blogging isn't really helpful for either of your options. Once a developer starts searching the web it usually means they have no clue as to what they need to get done, and they are looking for some free, quick answer to their solution. Blogs aren't about that, and that is also why I'm playfully naming these answers "blargs". Blogs are usually just a kind-of popular Java/J2EE figure venting some thoughts. Hopefully my blargs will be popular enough to make people start to think blogs can be helpful for your second option, answers to specific problems. But really, I'm just doing free, no-liability consulting and it happens to be getting publicized via blogging. I don't think that will ever go mainstream.

If we consider the case where you are a Java/J2EE developer who has some spare time on his or her hands, then I think it is fair to say blogs are a good way to feel out the current state of things in the Java/J2EE community. I would equate it to something like slashdot.org. If you are a geek drinking some coffee and killing some time, slashdot is a fun way to feel like you are hip to the tech community. Likewise, if you are a Java person who is just killing time in front of your computer, Java/J2EE blogs can make you feel like you are hip to the current happenings of other developers. Although in both cases it doesn't mean you will be any more productive at work.

If everyone should blog, where do I go to get bloggin? Is it necessary to setup blog software on my own site, or are there loads of sites offering blog capabilities to Java developers that I've so far managed to miss?

If you want to blog you have several options. No, you don't need to set up software on your own site, but you could if you wanted. Usually if you have your own site you can simply edit an HTML page to include your thoughts and call it a blog. But, if you want to have flashy user feedback and such you will need to either do some coding or install an existing package.

In general if you just want to blog you can find a site that will let you do it for free. Off the top of my head I know this site does it (although I never figured out if anyone can start blogging for free) and JavaLobby provides JRoller, http://www.jroller.com/, which you can also get the source-code for if you like. Outside of those two I can't say much beside that I have heard of tons of other free open-source weblog packages, but I don't know any names or links. I think this is a question best left to others to help with. I'm sure a good deal of the people that read this will have a link or two to suggest, and if that is you, please post the link in the talk-back.

Cheers,

Jayson Falkner (jayson@jspinsider.com)

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