Why Do It?

Why do it? Why tell the world about a new product your company is launching? It’s a perfectly reasonable question I’ve been asking myself since Thursday night. Over 450 people came by just yesterday (on top of the almost two hundred on Friday, and over a hundred on Thursday in the three hours between 9 and midnight. Today, it’s 2:30, and it’s close to 300).

So, why do it? What’s in it for me? Other than the awe of watching the traffic and trackbacks roll in, not much. Maybe some more people start coming to my humble little blog, or subscribe to my RSS feeds. And maybe after this blows over I drop back down to my perfectly comfortable and managable 70 – 80 unique visitors a day (as measured by SiteMeter), maybe lower. Does it really matter? Nope, not really. I’ll still be here posting my nonsensical prose and photos. I’ll still be here thinking the same thoughts I thought before.

You know why I think I did it? I never get to talk about work here. I work on a lot of stuff that’s confidential, yet I think is interesting, and I would love to talk about. For example, I worked on several big deals at AOL from a technical perspective. Of course, I couldn’t tell anyone about them, and only accidentally let one of them slip to my wife (that was a funny moment – “Dear, I didn’t say that, really.” “You didn’t say what?” “Oh, nevermind, just don’t say ‘google’ to anyone you know.”). Most people I talk to outside of my little group at work have no idea what it means to build search products, or the complexities that happen behind the scenes that bring you your results. So, I never talk about it. I definitely can’t talk about it here. You see, I like my job and would like to keep it.

Having the chance to meet the folks in New York, and then the double bonus of being able to share that experience here – it was something I couldn’t pass up. Although I didn’t write a line of code for the Journals product, I sat in a lot of meetings early on explaining blogging, trying to communicate that the post is the unit of measurement in the blogging world, and then trying to help figure out the best way to search posts – how do you weight things? What’s more important, the title or body? Should we weight by recency? It was the most fun I’ve had in a work meeting. I got to expound on two things I love – blogging and search (yeah, I’m weird, freely admitted, thanks). Now that I’ve played with the product, after being out of the loop while I got back to urgent search things, I see that people actually listened to me and now some of those things I suggested will be out there for AOL members to use and you all to see.

I’m a little worried about the ethics of promoting a company product in my personal space. It’s not that I don’t think the product is good. I do. It’s not that I feel cheap or used in doing it. Honestly, it was my idea. There’s something gnawing in the back of my head. Now that I’ve done it once, how do I go back to what I did before? I know none of you care about this, but this is the first time I’ve done this, and wrestling with it in my own puny human brain is giving me a headache, on top of this rash of hayfever. You know, these judgements would be really easy if I was self-employed. I could talk about whatever I wanted and only ever have to answer to myself. These “to post or not to post” self-conversations are no fun.

So, there you go, hopefully that explains it somewhat (more for me than for you, but hey, you’ve already read this far…). Don’t expect this to turn into As the Triangle Turns. Unless I go to any more demos, I probably won’t mention AOL Journals again, and then, I’ll probably just talk about the people I met, since I’ve already talked about the product. Oh, and it’s really weird to see my crap quoted on other blogs. Weirds me out, let me tell you.

Categorized as computing

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Listen to that conversation you’re having with yourself. Your Journal users will be having that same experience.
    Widely adopted solutions…
    Pseudonomous or anonymous blogs. widely popular in Eastern Europe among online diarists.
    Multiple blogs, a public one, and a private/password-protected one.
    I interviewed a woman who uses four: one professional blog, a family foto and happenings blog, a pseudonomous blog about her rather racy love life, and a novel blog written about a fictional character in the first person using a blog.
    One of her concerns: bleedover. Having family discover the racy side or potential employers seeing she has kids.
    Feature: Really important to let people know they can go back and hide a post, taking it back. It may still live in Google cache, but it won’t be on your site any longer.
    Blogging is a new way of being in public, so we all have skills for managing celebrity to invent and absorb.
    btw, much better to wind up in the wrong office building than the wrong bedroom I always say. I couldn’t find my clothes fast enough.

  2. hi…
    excuse me but i saw your toturial “intalling mt in OSX”
    i hardly understand english and i think thath i didn’t follow the exact steps
    perhaps i get lost on step No.2
    beacouse i couldn’t find 10.2 x in NetInfo Manager… (i think it`s i have mac os 10.2.6)
    i really don’t know…
    i’m just a girl, not a skill programer…
    please help me.
    that’s what i got from MT
    Done loading initial data! All went well.
    and after that step on the next one i get:
    Got an error: Can’t locate HTML/Template.pm in @INC (@INC contains: /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/extlib /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/lib /System/Library/Perl/darwin /System/Library/Perl /Library/Perl/darwin /Library/Perl /Library/Perl /Network/Library/Perl/darwin /Network/Library/Perl /Network/Library/Perl .) at /Library/WebServer/CGI-Executables/lib/MT/App.pm line 299.
    please… for you it’s so simple…help me!

  3. As The Triangle Turns… There’s a title I haven’t heard in awhile. 😉 BTW, I am mucho jealous of your recent work on the Journaling prod… Would have killed for a hand in that. 😉 Good to see an actual blogger is involved.

  4. I’m glad that you have finally acknowledged that you did have some role in the AOL Journals product (esp on the Search side).

  5. But I still didn’t write any code. I started a lot of fights, went philosophical on everyone about what blogging is and hopefully sounded like I knew what I was talking about. It was playing for me. I got to run at the mouth… it’s what I do best.

  6. I love that your passion for what you do comes through in what you write. You won’t go wrong doing something for a company that you care deeply about. And the company won’t do wrong in letting you do it.
    Keep writing about it. Don’t be afraid that it’ll come across as insincere or contrived. The human voice will find its way if you let it.
    I struggle with many of the same concerns, but I really do love what I do, the people I work with, and even, every now and then, some of the products my company builds (actually, most of them).
    Rock on. And keep on giving us your thoughts. And we’ll promise to stay among the loyal 80. 🙂

  7. Ummm… Kevin, if you want to write some code I have a job for you. 😉

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