As end users increasingly rely on blogs and other social media, we have to step back and think about who is doing the talking. IT guru Rick Vanover shares his perspectives on tech bloggers and disclosure.
Frequently, I refer to myself as a blogger. This means I write material that ends up on a web site, like TechRepublic. But there are other types of blogs as well; in fact, I’d say there are four distinct formats of blogs today that IT pros may frequently use. These are outlined below:
- Personal blogs: These are among my favorite types, as you usually get the story as it is told from the end user. Some of my favorite personal blogs out there are Gabe’s Virtual World, The Virtualization Evangelist, and Ruptured Monkey. These are people who use various technologies — storage and virtualization, in this case — yet do not work for a technology vendor.
- Commercial blogs: These blogs are good, reliable sites for information that have the luxury of a professional edit. Some of these sites include TechRepublic and the IT Knowledge Exchange. These are driven by contributor content, some of whom may be paid; and are generally made up of end users who provide relevant technology information to the day-to-day user.
- Vendor blogs: These are blogs that are put on by a vendor of a technology product or service, which would instinctively be in best light of the product at hand. Some examples here include the TechNet blogs, VMTN, and the Vizioncore vCommunity.
- Collective blogs: This situation is most rare amongst IT professionals, but is effectively a pool of bloggers who offer technical material that does not fit in the above categories. The best example of this is Gestalt IT.
Why is it such an issue to know what kind of blog you're reading? It comes down to transparency and vendor FUD, and know when you're on the receiving end. Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter in social media about who is transparent and who is not. This can be a way of critiquing analyst firms for perceived bias or simply crying foul about who works for what company. There have been some specific call-outs of transparency, including this post by Chuck Hollis (CTO of EMC). My take on blogging is to fully disclose everything and leave nothing left to uncertainty. That is the spirit of my personal blogger disclosure, which is public for the world to see.
For the day-to-day IT end user, I think it is important to be very clear on what interests are represented on each blog post. It can be difficult to determine the interests involved, however. In a sense, we’ve always had to take Internet content with a grain of salt. I think blog content is no different. What is your take on blog transparency? How do you decide who to trust when reading about technology? Share your comments below.