There has been quite a bit of discussion out in the blogosphere about the similarities and differences among traditional journalists, paid bloggers, "independent" bloggers, industry gadflies, and commentators of all sorts in EDA (and electronics in general). See threads from John Blyler and Harry Gries on this topic, including how DAC is evolving to handles the different types of attendees, whether the Deepchip "gadlfy" site qualifies as a blog, and a bunch of other interesting angles.
Reading through these threads spurred some thoughts about blogging that I'd like to share. It's been just over a year since I started contributing to this blog, launched as part of the expansive and very popular Cadence community portal. I had not been a blogger previously, but I had been a prolific presenter at industry conferences and author of technical articles in numerous traditional electronics publications and their associated Web sites. Blogging has been a lot of fun for several reasons.
For a start, I've tried to bring a more personal perspective to technical and industry topics than I did in the past. Writing technical articles in the first person is generally discouraged, but for blogs it's very common. I enjoy the immediacy of publication; the long lead times for printed magazines and even some Web sites make it harder to be current in this fast-changing industry. I also enjoy the freedom to publish just about anything I want related to EDA or electronics in my blog.
This may seem counter-intuitive; many readers may suspect that employers keep a heavy hand on bloggers. I can't speak for other companies, but Cadence offers us a lot of liberty plus quick approvals for proposed posts. I no longer have to convince an editor that my topic is newsworthy, or go through a long internal or external review process. Of course, I'm not going to endanger my job by revealing confidential information but even traditional journalists have to deal with embargoes, "off the record" information, and other restrictions on what they report.
I consider myself a "professional" blogger in that blogging is a part of my job so I'm essentially getting paid for it. I do not have the same sort of tight deadlines and publication quotas that many journalists have, but my management has certain expectations about my blogging activity. I will be judged by the quanitity, quality, and timeliness of my blog posts, not unlike a journalist, so perhaps we aren't so far apart after all. Of course, the self-described "independent" bloggers would strongly disagree and argue that their role is closer to journalism.
I do realize that, as a Cadence employee, my blog posts are judged differently than those of journalists or independent bloggers, all the more so since I'm part of Marketing. That's fair enough; I'm sure that I have some biases both intentional and otherwise in what I think and write. But really we all do, and I have to question whether there really is such a thing as an "independent" blogger in EDA. I guess that a professional journalist who also blogs would qualify, as would many people blogging about topics unrelated to their livelihood.
However, the majority of EDA bloggers either work for electronics companies that are allowing, encouraging or even requiring them to blog, or are consultants trying to establish their technical credibility and busines savvy in order to win more clients.So let's admit that we all have our agendas, and wise readers should keep that in mind. As long as we cover interesting topics in a lively way and encourage conversations, there's a place for a wide range or bloggers and commentators in EDA. If we're not filling our role well, we expect our readers -- you -- to take us to task and provide feedback.
The truth is out there...sometimes it's in a blog.