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Objects, Networks, and Making Things Work
On Blogging
by Jim Waldo
April 17, 2005
Having realized that I didn't get the essence of blogging, I resolve to post with greater regularity and with less guilt. Heaven help us all...


It has been way too long since I last contributed anything to this space. There are all kinds of excuses... I've been working on an interesting project having to do with an infrastructure for medical sensing, I've been working on a book on privacy for the National Academies (it will be out real soon now, I hope), and there have been all sorts of other things going on as life progresses.

But these are all excuses, not reasons. The real reason, I finally understand, is that I really don't understand the notion of blogging. I came to this realization indirectly. My daughter had been exchanging instant messages with her aunt (my sister). She came away from the session mildly amused, but somewhat frustrated. "Aunt Kathy," she said, "doesn't understand IMing. She keeps composing letters. It's kind of irritating, since it takes forever for her to reply to anything." (This, by the way, is a translation that is meant to be only semantically accurate; the actual quote would have had the word "like" thrown in at various points, but I am not a speaker of that dialect, so I won't try to get the quote in it's full glory).

I've realized for some time that different technologies require different kinds of styles. Email is not the same as written mail, and IMing is different from both. Having only recently become a user of the IM form of communication (great way to stay in touch with the kids, by the way), I've learned some of the telegraphy of the form. But my daughter's comment made me realize that I had been using a different form of communication for my blog, and it was not necessary appropriate.

I had been treating my blog much the way I used to treat my column in the old Unix Review. That was a monthly work, and I would think long and hard about the kind of point that I wanted to make, the examples that would illustrate the point, and the way to best present it all. The result was a monthly essay (more on object-oriented programming than on the supposed subjects, which were C++ originally and Java by the end). I was, in short, using my blog as a way to publish a series of essays on the web.

There is nothing wrong with essays on the web. I've become quite an admirer of the essays of Paul Graham (even though I think his opinions on Java say more about his programming background than they do about Java). But there is something very different about the well thought out, well structured essays of Graham and the blogging lunacy of Jose Melendez, with his daily ravings on the Red Sox. I have no doubt that Melendez polishes his prose, but the daily output trumps the deep thought.

In the same way, I have come to realize that a good blog will trade existence for polish. Tis better to post often in rough form than to post a gem (even if it is Zerconium) only once in a great while. So I've made the resolution that I will try to post early and often, knowing that the thoughts may be half-baked. If nothing else, it will give me something to do while watching the Sox.

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About the Blogger

Jim Waldo is a Distinguished Engineer with Sun Microsystems, where he is the lead architect for Jini, a distributed programming system based on Java. Prior to Jini, Jim worked in JavaSoft and Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where he did research in the areas of object-oriented programming and systems, distributed computing, and user environments. Before joining Sun, Jim spent eight years at Apollo Computer and Hewlett Packard working in the areas of distributed object systems, user interfaces, class libraries, text and internationalization. While at HP, he led the design and development of the first Object Request Broker, and was instrumental in getting that technology incorporated into the first OMG CORBA specification.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2005 Jim Waldo. All rights reserved.

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