Years ago in 2007, when I first joined Canonical as a staffer, I attended their yearly in-person all-hands meeting during my second week of employment. During the opening plenary, after the icebreaker where all new employees were asked to stand up and explain the history of their IRC pseudonym, the presenter lamented, “We hire bloggers who immediately stop blogging.”
The presenter then went on to talk about how many prospective candidates make it through to the final-round interviews because of their public open source contributions and blog entires. Which makes perfect sense! Ubuntu is open source. Canonical hires expert open source contributors. And what better way is there to promote your open source contributions than to blog about them!
But the comment about how new hires stop blogging really stayed with me. While working at Pepper before Canonical I used to blog daily here on Inert Ramblings and many other now-defunct platforms and forums. I blogged about everything from diet and exercise to tech industry news to photography and journalism.
I Immediately Stopped Blogging
Three months before my team was officially hired by Canonical, Pepper was contracted with Canonical for three months to work on the then-skunk works Ubuntu mobile project.
Everyone at Pepper, including myself, went heads-down with tighter deadlines and more intensive workloads. We found less time to work on our personal open source projects and endeavors. Which in turn led to less things to blog about. Even our after-hours personal time was now dedicated to Canonical projects.
Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a bad thing! I’m a geek. I have geek hobbies. Canonical was my dream job and my workload coincidentally paralleled my hobbies. So, for me, it was a win-win!
The only real difference was that I stopped blogging because I was so busy with work. I stopped posting to Inert Ramblings. I stopped posting to photography forums. I stopped posting to coding forums. I stopped posting to the social media platforms that were active at the time. I even stopped rally racing.
It’s not that the previous culture at Canonical dissuaded against blogging. It’s just that there was no incentive to blog anymore. If we were blogging then we weren’t working towards our deadlines. And, although Canonical management made the occasional comments wondering why folks stopped blogging, there was never an official company policy to promote blogging and make it part of our daily workflow.
Start your blogging engines!
Luckily, things changed a few years ago. Canonical holds quarterly product roadmap sprints for key managers and engineers. I organized most of these sprints and, during numerous plenary sessions over the past few years, upper management made it a point to encourage teams to blog about their non-proprietary projects.
Which is great! Canonical’s Ubuntu Blog started seeing more content and traffic. More content started appearing on employee personal blogs. News organizations started picking up stories based on employee blog entries. And, during every roadmap cycle, managers encouraged their employees to blog about what they’re working on.
And the community took notice! More blog content from Canonical and their employees started getting syndicated. My RSS reader is now filled with content from both the official Ubuntu Blog and personal employee blogs!
So, take note. Your company’s marketing team shouldn’t be your only outreach channel. Your employee’s personal blogs can be just as bolstering for your product and service offering!
Sean Sosik-Hamor is a former employee of Canonical. Working within Canonical’s IS Team Alpha Squad, Sean’s focus was end-to-end logistics, planning, implementation, and photography for corporate events, summits, conventions, data centers, facilities, equipment transport, and constructing offices and data centers.
He is currently entertaining offers for full-time positions within the photography, event, and data center fields.