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.