Who are the Hacker Bloggers?

If you look at the font of all wisdom - no, I don't mean Wikipedia, but Amazon - you will find stacks of books with titles like The Corporate Blogging Book, Blogging for Business, Blog Marketing and the rest.  Whatever the title, the basic message is the same: if you're in business, you've got to be blogging.  Because if you aren't, you're not "having the conversation" with your customers, which means, in turn, that you're not getting your message out or valuable comments back.

In many ways, an open source project is just like a business.  There is a product - admittedly one with a price tag of zero - serving customers; ideally, the managers, aka project leaders, would like more people to use that "product".  So doesn't this imply that those in the open source "business" should be blogging away just like their commercial brothers and sisters?  Indeed, given that free software is famously about community, isn't there a strong argument that the "CEOs" of the open source world should be blogging away rather more than those merely motivated by money?

So let's see who's doing what.  But please note: this is not meant to be a complete list.  It's just a quick scamper through the hacker blogosphere, and doesn't even begin to address the broader issue of whether those that do blog are doing it in the right way.

Among the patriarchs of the free software world, RMS blogs, and so does ESR (although his blog doesn't have much about Python programming these days).  On the Linux kernel side, David Miller does, and so does Alan Cox - even if it's hard to glean much about his hacking activities unless you speak Welsh.  Those with more formal management roles within the GNU/Linux world often have blogs - for example, Ian Murdock and Mark Shuttleworth; perhaps they've been buying corporate blogging books on Amazon.  Similarly, open source champions in big computer companies nearly always blog - people like Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Bob Sutor at IBM, or Simon Phipps and Erwin Tenhumberg at Sun.

It's striking that one of the most blog-savvy free software projects is Firefox.  Big name Firefoxers who blog include Ben Goodger, Blake Ross and Asa Dotzler, and there's also the Planet Mozilla blog.  This relative abundance doubtless reflects the fact that Firefox is as much a marketing as a coding phenomenon.  OpenOffice.org has a personal blog from Louis Suarez-Potts as well as a generic one offering OOo news.  This is similar to what's happening in the world of GNOME.  As well as blogs from Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, there's also a Mono blog, while on the KDE side, there's Planet KDE and a blog aimed at KDE developers.  The main Apache blog seems to be the marketing site Feather, while Thunderbird has The Rumbling Edge.

There are some obvious names conspicuous by their absence in this short and by no means comprehensive list (and please, do send in your own favourite hacker bloggers that I've not mentioned).  First, and foremost, that of Linus.  That's a pity, because he would be a great blogger.  As anyone who has read his postings on the Linux-kernel mailing list or one of the occasional public interviews knows, he has a dry wit and a natural way with words, both of which cry out for a more regular expression in a readily-accessible form.  Aside from being hugely entertaining, a blog from Linus, with all the knock-on publicity it would doubtless generate among the media, would boost awareness of Linux and open source enormously.

How about it, Linus?

Glyn Moody blogs about open source at opendotdotdot

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A very informative article.

new thumbs daily's picture

A very informative article.

Planet PostgreSQL

Matt Baluyos's picture

The PostgreSQL people also have their own blogging site:

http://www.planetpostgresql.org/

Yes, thanks...

Glyn Moody's picture

...as another poster kindly pointed out, there are many such Planet sites at http://www.planetplanet.org/, although the PostgreSQL one isn't listed for some reason....

Carmack and Frankel

Anonymous's picture

John Carmack (of id fame) and Justin Frankel (creator of Winamp's Nullsoft). Their public .plan files date from way in the early '90s.

Frankel still blogs at 1014.org, currently working on a couple of freeware projects (Reaper, Ninjam, the Jesusonic 2000 FX) (Seriously). While Carmack now posts (albeit not so frequently I might add) at his Armadillo Aerospace blog.

Interesting

Glyn Moody's picture

Thanks.

Charles Schulz of OOo Native Lang

libervisco's picture

Speaking of OpenOffice.org related blogs, Charles H. Schulz, the leader of the OOo Native Lang confederation has a blog here: http://www.libervis.com/blogs/5/charles

There is infact a bit of a blogging subnet on http://blogs.libervis.com where bunch of us Free Software and Free Culture supporters blog. :)

Thanks

hackers invented blogging

eMBee's picture

if you're in business, you've got to be blogging [ ... ] In many ways, an open source project is just like a business

that quote sounds funny when you consider that it was hackers who were the first to publish their diaries long before the term blog was coined.

alan cox diary goes all the way back to april 1998.

i challenge you to find something older. and even if you find something, i am almost sure it is also a hacker.

it is to bad alan cox diary became unreadable for most after he started learning welsh. but if you are interested in linux history, it is a reccomendable read

greetings, eMBee.

There were others, too

Glyn Moody's picture
I'm certainly not suggesting corporates invented blogging (just that everyone's writing books about corporate blogging). As to the origins of online diaries and blogging, there's an important strand that involves non-hackers: this 1998 article in Salon provides a good introduction.

don't forget...

Wolfgang Lonien's picture

Planet Debian: http://planet.debian.org/ - some of the most talented hacky geeky geniuses out there!
The Debian User: http://blog.thedebianuser.org/ - shameless self-ad, because I started that one, with mixed results in contribution so far.
All the planets - see some of the big ones listed at planetplanet.org

cheers,
wjl aka Wolfgang Lonien

I hadn't forgotten...

Glyn Moody's picture

...I just didn't have room to mention everyone.

Instead, I was hoping to provoke others to send in great links like yours: thanks.

But *I* have forgotten someone...

Wolfgang Lonien's picture

... which is not acceptable, so I have to deliver here again:

It's of course your colleague, the living legend and maybe one of the first bloggers around, Doc Searls. Mea maxima culpa for not pointing to his "IT Garage" at http://www.docsearls.com/

Still one of my favourites, not only of LJ!

Gentoo Blogs

Adam Sommer's picture

One of the coolest things that's been around a while, but I've just discovered is the Gentoo developer blogs:

http://planet.gentoo.org/
http://www.larrythecow.org/

I usually find the posts ineresting and sometimes pick up some good tips or software I didn't know about.

Great sites

Glyn Moody's picture

Impressive roll-call on the first, and great to see so many languages on the second.

Corporate blogging and open source development

Debbie Weil's picture

Hi Glyn,

I love this analogy -- in fact it's one I make in my book! I invite you to download Chapter 1 at www.TheCorporateBloggingBook.com. BTW, my book is the only one in the pack that's not all rah-rah - you gotta blog. I talk plenty about the challenges (the time it takes, legal considerations, writing ability, etc.). I've also got a chapter specifically devoted to CEO bloggers. Thanks for the mention!

Blogging info not religion

Ted Demopoulos's picture

"Blogging for Business" is a how-to and definitely not a "rah rah" must blog guide also. Since hackers invented blogging, it's a great combo -- the amount of tech info available on blogs is huge.
Try looking most anything up on one of the blog search engines for example, e.g. technorati.com
Our blog -- on Blogging for Business -- is at www.bloggingforbusinessbook.com , a nice short URL :)

Thanks for visiting

Glyn Moody's picture

Thanks for your comments from the other side of the analogy, so to speak. I think the similarities between "ordinary" and "open source" CEOs are quite strong, and maybe even getting stronger. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

dotProject Blog

Keith Casey's picture

This is why - as a core contributor of dotProject - that I have worked hard to connect with our users, share information, and generally welcome people to the community. I have been working to promote the group while simultaneously fixing some of the most annoying bugs we have... and acknowledging all of our warts publicly.

The right approach

Glyn Moody's picture

I'm sure that your approach will pay off, especially as more and more people come to expect this kind of thing, not least because commercial sites start doing it.

To find the "hackerblogs" , is like digging for gold.

unimatrix9's picture

Your article really made me think, because its an question, right?
My first thought was http://www.hackaday.com/, wich gives great hacks, or the nice vid blogs like http://www.hak5.org/ , but thats not what you are looking for,is it? I think most of the opensource hackers write on wiki kind of websites, instead of blogs. For example
http://www.knoppix.net/ , and all linux livecd's have simular wikipages, as do the great distro's. Its just one google away.

Or maybe http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/ is more to your liking? I call out for more people to give some cool links to great blogs, And maybe add an list of great hacker movies and books too. The last one i was reading is "The world is flat" and "in the beginning there was the command line" , wich was more of an historic lookback, as some things are not the same like back in the year of the books release.
Wish you luck,

yours, unimatrix9, from urban cyberspace. :)

You're right...

Glyn Moody's picture

...it is a question: so thanks for your answers.

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