Blog New World
It’s been more than a year since I started my first blog at www.qualitycurmudgeon.blogspot.com. Pretty impressive for a guy who didn’t even know what a blog was until a few months before. I owe thanks to Dennis Arter for introducing me to the “blogosphere” (i.e., what geeks call the world of blogs).
In case you’re wondering just what a blog (short for “Web log”) is, it’s a type of Web site where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary) about a particular topic, displayed in reverse chronological order. (If you’re already a blog fan or have your own blog, please forgive this rather basic explanation.) The best way to learn about blogs is to visit a few of them. See my recommendations below.
Blogs are a great way to create dialogue and share information. Their interactive nature adds depth to the topic being covered. The best blogs provide open access and discussion about a particular subject.
In the quality world, there are several blogs worth visiting:
• The Audit Guy— www.auditguy.blogspot.com. This blog by Dennis Arter, known in certain circles as “The Audit Guy,” discusses a wide range of issues, from quality auditing to technology. Dennis is a quality expert and technology guru, a nice combination.
• PDCA Auditing— www.pdcauditing.com. This blog by Paul Palmes discusses auditing issues and includes podcast (a downloadable audio file) interviews with quality professionals.
• The Quality Weblog— www.qualityweblog.com. This blog features discussion on a wide range of quality issues and is hosted by Darryl VanDorp.
• Sarbanes-Oxley— www4.asq.org/blogs/sarbanes-oxley . This blog features discussion on Sarbanes-Oxley (SOx) and is moderated by John Walz. Although not technically a quality issue, SOx is certainly important to quality professionals. The American Society for Quality hosts this site.
• The Quality Curmudgeon— www.qualitycurmudgeon.blogspot.com. This is my blog and contains my “mumbles and grumbles” about the quality world. Now that I’ve been blogging for a year and feel more comfortable with blogs and blogging tools, I will be expanding my blog’s content with more frequent posts, news and links to other blogs and sites.
ASQ has a blog section on its Web site ( www.asq.org/blog ). Unfortunately, it has only four blogs listed at present, including John Walz’s SOx blog. However, there is a link to suggest blog topics and potential moderators. This seems like a logical place for ASQ sections and divisions to post their blogs. I don’t know if the reason they aren’t listed here is because none of the sections or divisions have blogs, or if I just can’t find them on ASQ’s rather labyrinthine site.
There are a couple of other nonquality blogs that I visit frequently and I highly recommend:
• Lifehacker— www.lifehacker.com. This blog’s description says it all: “Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and Web sites that actually save time. Don’t live to geek; geek to live.”
• 43 Folders— www.43folders.com. This blog is about personal productivity, life hacks and simple ways to make your life a little better. It features a lot of good information about David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology.
I’m sure there are some great blogs out there that I haven’t mentioned; please post your favorites on my blog.
User input makes blogs even more interesting. Most blogs allow visitors to post comments, and most bloggers appreciate visitor input. One caveat, however: Be polite and have something useful to say. Some people think blogs are an open invitation to personally attack others. What would your mother say?
If you think the blogosphere is pretty cool and might want to start one of your own, you’re in luck. Setting up a blog is simple and free. A number of services, including Blogger ( www.blogger.com ) and Word Press ( www.wordpress.org ), provide free online software and hosting for blogs. I use Blogger, which happens to be owned by Google. Blogger includes a variety of templates to vary the look of your blog. In addition to text postings, you can add links to other blogs and Web sites, images, and audio or video clips. I set up my blog and began posting in less than 10 minutes. If you do set up your own quality blog, let me know about it. I’d like to feature some quality blogs on mine and provide links to them. Adding links to your blog is a great way to drive traffic (i.e., users) to your site.
If you’re uncomfortable with newfangled terms like blog, blogosphere, Web log, podcast and such, relax. They’re entering the mainstream. Toss them around at your next company meeting or with your kids. Your co-workers will think you’re hip; your kids probably won’t. Still confused? Look in Wikipedia ( www.wikipedia.org), the free online user-compiled encyclopedia. (Another nod to Dennis Arter for enlightening me about this useful tool.)
Post your thoughts and links to your recommended blogs at www.qualitycurmudgeon.blogspot.com.
Scott M. Paton is Quality Digest’s editor at large .