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.