Why LFW bloggers blog on

NASHUA, NH--While blogs can be found on seemingly every topic, good blogs that cover technical subjects (at least those other than consumer electronics) are a little less common.

NASHUA, NH--While blogs can be found on seemingly every topic, good blogs that cover technical subjects (at least those other than consumer electronics) are a little less common. Laser Focus World is lucky enough to have two of them: “Larry’s VC View,” by Larry Marshall (www.laserfocusworld.com/blogs/vc_view/index.html), and “Working Smart in Photonics,” by Sarah Diggs (www.laserfocusworld.com/blogs/wk_smart/index.html).

Marshall’s blog, written from the point of view of a high-tech venture capitalist, is, of course, not directly technical; however, his advice is of the sort that can make all the difference in the introduction of a new photonics technology to the commercial world. Diggs’ blog is entirely technical, and yet also of critical importance commercially: she brings her extensive experience in photonics production to her examination of the adequacy of optical standards (scratch/dig standards, for example) and production techniques used widely across the industry.

What they want to get across

The story that you cannot easily get from outside is what Marshall concentrates on. “In my case, as an entrepreneur I always wanted to better understand how VCs think and evaluate companies so I could better engage with them,” he says. “Now, as a VC writing a blog to engineers, I am trying to communicate that information to them.”

“I’m focused on sharing information that improves a company’s bottom line,” says Diggs. “Too often, key information needed by a technical workforce to produce quality product or service is ‘tribal knowledge.’ My goal is to replace that tribal knowledge with data--and the blog format allows a rapid, broad distribution of the data.”

Why they blog

“It’s a two-way communication--people can give you feedback of value to them, and help you focus better on what they are interested in,” explains Marshall. “Also, it’s faster to write, with fewer concerns about fitting into a magazine-prescribed length. You can write one in fifteen minutes, rather than taking weeks. Ideally, you can get a discussion forum going so your readers can help you write it.”

“The way we communicate has changed forever,” notes Diggs. “Today, when we want to communicate quickly, we text, we twitter, we interact on online social networks, and we blog. Blogging allows us to disseminate information quickly and inexpensively to a broad audience; we can actually ‘push’ the information to readers who have similar interests. And because readers will search for and subscribe to a particular blog they’re interested in, the process becomes ‘learner-centric,’ meaning that the learner is immediately engaged in a personalized, interactive learning experience and has access to meaningful explanations of what they want to know.”

For example, to round out her examination of optical-surface standards, Diggs asked Dave Aikens, president of Savvy Optics (Chester, CT) and an industry expert on optical surface imperfections, a number of questions on which standard he thinks is best and why; the blog allowed her to broadcast his answers “quickly and globally,” as Diggs puts it.

As for the weak points of technical/business blogging, Marshall notes that it can be easy to let one’s personal agenda overcome the greatest interest. One of the biggest problems with technical blogs, adds Diggs, is trusting that the information is accurate and pertinent. In addition, “there is an art to writing a technical blog, just as there’s an art to writing a good technical paper or manual, and if the reader cannot connect with or understand the author, it doesn’t matter how important the information is, it will be lost,” she says.

--John Wallace

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