Six Years Later

Just six years ago this month, I started playing with blogging. I’d been reading Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, Om Malik and a few others. Automation World, my new project, was now up and running. It was time to try something new. I wrote to someone (one of those self-proclaimed experts) about what I was doing sometime in the spring and he said he couldn’t figure out what I was doing. I’ve never heard of him again 🙂

Blogging has gone through many changes over the past half-dozen years. It was originally about linking to other bloggers and adding your own comments. It was, and remains, a personal medium. But there were no other bloggers in the control and automation space. Then companies decided it would be a great way to get out their message. So company blogs sprung up like mushrooms after a Spring shower. Since blogging is really an easy way for publishing your ideas, new companies began using blogging as the publishing platform. Engadget for new products in technology (I’ve been trying Automation Gear for the same thing in our market space). TechCrunch, GigaOm, Huffington Post and many others for news.

After this time and experimentation, only Walt Boyes has kept up the blogging consistently from a journalist perspective–except that blog has morphed into more of a magazine blog than a personal one. But it still keeps going. Most company blogs that I have followed have withered due to the demands of feeding the beast regularly. Jim Cahill keeps the Emerson Process Experts blog going. And Emerson’s Greg McMillan does a good job updating the Modeling and Control blog. Eric Murphy keeps us current with OPC news. Let me know about any I’ve missed.

The other thing about blogs was the able to subscribe via RSS feed and then read the news when I wanted. This worked well–and still does. Of course many people want to know the latest, breaking news. So they also use Twitter and try to monitor a constant stream of real-time news-oh, and still get their work done. It’s a little like the stock ticker. I’m not ADD enough for that. I batch my Twitter reading, too.

This blog has evolved over the years and picked up a fair number of subscribers considering the limited number of automation people in the world. I’ve always tried to mix industry news, manufacturing news, analysis, soccer, personal stuff and thoughts about living.  As I start year seven at the end of a tough economic year, I look forward to seeing what I wind up doing this year.

I always enjoy your thoughts. Please continue to write. And post comments and subscribe to comments to keep the conversation going. I love a thoughtful debate. If you comment and I reply, that doesn’t have to be the end of it. Learning comes through iteration. I was on the high school tennis team (not bad for a geek) and a good rally.

Hope your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year) was refreshing and fulfilling. I hope your new year is one of hope and growth. May your blessings be plentiful.

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8 Responses to Six Years Later

  1. Roy Harry December 29, 2009 at 1:10 am #

    Gary,

    Just note to say thank for your blog. Appreciate the mix of mix of business and personal thoughts.Interesting content that comes across as very personal, well-reasoned and professional.

    Keep up the good work, Happy New Year!

    Roy

  2. Aaron Crews December 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    Congrats, Gary, on hitting the 6-year milestone. I’ve been enjoying the conversation mix and the interesting links for the last couple of years, and I’m looking forward to continuing to follow along in what I hope is a brighter year.

  3. Carl Henning December 29, 2009 at 6:19 pm #

    Feeding the beast is an effort definitely. PROFIblog is coming up on its 4th birthday in March and its a tough beast to feed. Sometimes it’s easy – like reporting on news from trade shows; sometimes it’s hard – like what’s worth saying today. So, why do we do this? Comments are usually rare. Is anyone reading our stuff? So, why do we do this? Because we really like doing it!

  4. Eric Murphy December 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Hi Gary,

    It has been getting harder and harder to ‘feed the beast’ these days, but it’s time rather than content that’s my bottleneck. Congrats on keeping Feed Forward running, fresh and personal. You set the bar for automation blogs 🙂
    Best to you and yours this coming new year, and looking forward to another year of blogging.

  5. Tony December 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    Congratulations on six years!

    Please add pricing info to the Automation Gear blog — hammer the sales dudes if needed. Prices aren’t a big secret anymore. I don’t care about exact pricing (e.g. I know my local distributors will typically be significantly less than list), but I like to have an idea so I know if it might be of interest. For example, I spent about 15 minutes googling for prices on the Moxa switches, so the pricing is available, but it would’ve been much nicer to have had it listed in the article.

    Keeping up a blog is hard — especially when you do it on your own time. There are definitely very few non-corporate automation bloggers out there, unlike in other areas (e.g. software development, MCAD, gadgets)

    Automation isn’t a popular topic. When I look at what generates traffic on my site, I find MCAD (I’ve written a bit about affordable solid modeling software) and furniture (cheap Ikea stand up desk) in the lead. But I do get a fair amount of traffic on the more automation focused articles.

  6. Gary Mintchell December 31, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    Thanks for the notes. I meant to mention Carl, but you’ve gotten so busy having to do all the PTO roadshows, I understand how tough it is to keep up.

    Yes, Tony, automation itself is a pretty minor subset of manufacturing, I guess. That’s why we structured Automation World to be a little broader than the normal competitor. I probably need to look at additional broadening.

    Thanks also for the request for pricing. I suppose all of you know the discount structure for the major companies. Some of the smaller companies, especially if selling mostly direct, will have list pricing closer to street price. I think software vendors especially hate talking price. There are some new players, though, that may upset that apple cart. We’ll see what we can add.

  7. Jim Cahill January 4, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Gary, Wow… congratulations on six years! My 4th anniversary blogging is next month. Time flies when your having fun.

    The real bloggers (like you) keep going, even through the holidays. The slacker bloggers (like me), wait until they get back from holidays to post again.

    I hope your 2010 is your best year yet.

    Take it easy! Jim

  8. Stephen Walton January 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Gary,
    I appreciate your efforts as well as those of others like JIm Cahil and Walt Boyes to keep up with the news and developments. Ongoing blogs must take a toll and requires discipline to keep the content flowing. Your personal touch is also appreciated and what I look for in any blog. I don’t need news releases but rather the personal opinions and analysis of "what this all means?"
    Steve

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