Has anyone noticed the relative blogging explosion going on within IBM Lotus in the last few months?  I almost can't keep up with my colleagues who are blogging these days.  There are ten blogs now on developerWorks Lotus (using Dominoblog) -- nine of which didn't exist 100 days ago.  Only a subset of the Lotus bloggers are listed here -- doesn't yet include Bob Balaban, for example.

There's something else going on -- there are even more active Lotus bloggers within the friendly confines of the IBM Intranet.  This seems logical -- we now have three products (shipping or in development) supporting blogging, so more people are getting into it.  I haven't been as active on the Intranet blogs, feeling like I was spending more than enough time reading the public ones to further explore these IBMer-only interactions.

Yesterday, a partner pinged me about a particular "IBM in the news story", and I was curious to see whether IBMers were talking about it internally.  While I didn't find anything on the topic at hand, I did discover that something I had just written about -- the "what's in a name" analyst report -- had already been discussed internally by people like Curtis Ryan, the sales leader for Lotus Connections.  This then lead me to discover that other IBMers, like Luis Suarez and Gia Lyons (Americas technical sales leader for Connections), were discussing another recent Internet blogosphere posting about Lotus Connections.  In fact, Luis's intranet blog had drawn a huge "hot" discussion thread on-topic.  In that case, it was a posting I happened across quite independently, and there was all this heated internal discussion about what "IBM" should say or not say.  In the meantime, I had already (as is my tendency) posted a public comment on that blog, which lead to even more internal discussion (which, until yesterday, I was blissfully oblivious to).  (Aside for IBMers: I've followed up this posting on my intranet blog here).

This is a pretty important inflection point.  We have moved way past the "pioneer" phase of blogging as a part of the daily IBMer fabric, at least within Lotus.  Awareness of blogs is higher than ever.  Blogging participation is higher than ever.  10% of my hits here come from ibm.com addresses (which probably means even more IBM readers than that given how many of us work from mobile offices).  IBMers are joining the conversations, either as authors or as contributors or as researchers.  And that's exciting.

A few years ago, it felt like a small group of us at Lotus, and in the community, had the weight of "community" and "blogosphere" participation on our shoulders.  It is a revelation, and a very positive one, to discover that the army is getting bigger and stronger  More diverse voices with different perspectives.  More people acting as early warning on bad news.  More people sharing good news as it (or before it) happens.  More IBMers making decisions based on input from the blogging community.  Sure, a few of those are ones that us "pioneers" pushed into blogging, but all that has paid off in spades with the increase in sharing and collaboration.

This is also true from the perspective of the community.  I noticed the other day that few of the comments lately on edbrill.com are coming from long-time contributors, or long-time bloggers in the community.  I asked around.  A few said that business is too good right now to be spending a lot of time blogging/reading blogs.  That's good too hear.  Another group said that the echo chamber effect really is gone, as Paul Mooney predicted at Lotusphere 07.  You don't need to say "me, too", because the points are being made strongly and don't need repeating or amplification.

I suppose it's no surprise that the side effect of all of this is that readership on edbrill.com seems to have reached a plateau.  The daily hit count today is about the same as it was six months ago.  Sure, a "big" discussion will goose it, and it's also true that I don't tend to write quite as often as I used to.   There are also more people reading via RSS than ever, so there might be growing readership offset by that.  It doesn't matter.  I long ago passed the point where blogging was something I did to create or feed an ego -- I do it now because I can't imagine how I'd be successful without all of you and the channel this provides.  I even got it into my job description, finally...which doesn't mean that each of us who is a Lotus product sales executive necessarily would see blogging as a part of our job.  

With so many more voices coming to you live from "inside Lotus" (sorry, Chris/Ted), my blogging no longer has to cover all things Lotus.  I haven't written about the release of  Sametime 7.5.1, the Notes 8 reception that took place in Second Life the other day, or the new Lotus Support blog yet.  I haven't written about some competitive topics I could have in the last few weeks -- some SharePoint stuff, some OOXML vs. ODF stuff, etc.  I'm hardly alone on the mission to communicate about all the good (and some of the bad) stuff going on in the IBM Lotus world.  

That, my friends, means success has been achieved, on several levels.  Blogging doesn't seem to have faded away from the corporate world to be considered a consumer tool, no longer a credible source of news, as one analyst predicted more than two years ago.  Just the opposite -- it's an integral part of the business.  And that's good for all of us.

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