Oct 04 2011

Write to learn, learn to progress

Published by at 6:48 am under Blogging

This weekend I saw a post called “What does eight years of blogging get you?”  I realized almost immediately that I’d been blogging for just over 8 years myself and that the author’s experiences mirror my own, though he’s a bit more prolific and encourages comments much more than I do.  In 8 years, I’ve written over 2000 posts, received over 2000 comments and recorded nearly 350 podcasts (including 100 interviews).  While perhaps too many posts have been about me and my travails, I have to say that the decision to start blogging has easily been the single most important and formative event of my career in security.  Nothing I’ve done, whether it’s getting a degree or my CISSP (no snickering!) has had nearly the effect on my career that blogging has.  Podcasting comes close, but is mostly an extension of the blog, and Twitter is a distant third; but my blog will still be around in the years after the security community has moved on to The Next Big Thing and Twitter is a fond memory.

Mitch nails it with his 8 reasons for still blogging.  I get a lot of people (okay, 1-2 a week) asking me for career advice in security and the two things I always tell them is to start blogging and to get involved in the security community on twitter.  Whether you understand it or not yet, you’ll learn that being able to communicate is one of the keystones of a career, even more important than the technical.  Let me say that again:  It’s more important to be able to communicate than to be able to configure or run a technology.  You’re ability to work with a specific technology may be the best in the world, but unless you can communicate with your management why what you do is important, you’ll never progress beyond the level of technologist.  That may be fine for you, but I suspect most people want to move on to bigger and better things at some point in their career.

Blogging is a great venue for exploring big thoughts that can’t be fleshed out in any other way.  I’m a huge fan of Twitter, but there are definitely limitations to how complex an idea you can communicate 140 characters at a time!  Blogging let’s me slow down, formulate my ideas in a coherent manner and lay them out in a logical fashion that I hope are easy to understand, or at least read.  But more importantly, it’s a discipline that has caused me to hone my critical thinking skills and aided me in understanding the thoughts that underlie my own ideas and concepts.  Putting these ideas out there also gives others the opportunity to provide feedback, point out where I’m wrong and sometimes just call me an idiot for my ideas.  Even when being called an idiot, I generally learn something from the process; if nothing else, I’ve learned how to take destructive criticism with a certain amount of aplomb.

I’ve also gotten to meet more great people than I can ever list thanks to blogging.  The security community seems insular when you first get involved, but blogging opens doors and allows you to meet people who were only a name to you at one time.  The first time I knew blogging was a big deal for my career was when I wrote a post criticizing Tenable for charging for the Nessus signatures.  Ron Gula reached out to me shortly after I posted and explained to me in great detail why it was a necessary move and started a friendship that remains today.  Putting yourself out there publicly will reveal you to people who are the actual movers and shakers in the security field and begin conversations that can last years.

For me, the culmination of 8 years of blogging came when I started my current role as a Security Evangelist for Akamai.  I’ve gushed about my job before, and won’t do so again, but I do want to point out that not only was I hired in part because of my blogging experience, and because blogging has allowed me to hone my thinking more than simply being a practitioner would ever allow.  The fact that I’m willing to put myself out there, to engage in dialogue and simply argue with people publicly in ways I hope further the profession were key factors in getting this role.  Think about that before you dismiss the idea of blogging.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Write to learn, learn to progress”

  1. C Yateson 04 Oct 2011 at 7:19 am

    well said. You state clearly what I’ve been trying to encourage in my own little fish bowl of a work enviornment.

  2. […] Write to learn, learn to progress – Martin McKeay, Network Security Blog […]

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