Wednesday, November 19, 2008

EDA Bloggers' "Birds-of-a-Feather at ICCAD 2008 Conference"

I participated in the "Birds-of-a-Feather" roundtable discussion at ICCAD last week, which was organized by Ed Lee (of Lee Public Relations) and Sean Murphy (of SKMurphy, Inc.).

My fellow bloggers who also participated were:
  1. Karen Bartleson
  2. John Blyler
  3. John Busco
  4. Grant Martin
  5. Rick Munden
  6. Sean Murphy
  7. Warren Savage
Each of the bloggers had an opportunity to give a "Lightning Talk" on a topic related to their personal experiences. My topic was how to build an online community, based on my experience in growing the subscriber base of Analog Insights over the last year. You can view my slides in the plug-in here. (Thanks to John Busco for leading me to this).

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

It was an interesting meeting, and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of non-bloggers who came to ask questions and participate in the discussion. I would like to take the opportunity here to follow up on some of the questions that were posed to me, since they incited a sometimes heated discussion at ICCAD.

One question which was directed at me and my colleague from Synopsys - Karen Bartleson (or perhaps I should say one challenge)... was to what extent we are truly independent and uncensored bloggers, since we both write on a company-sponsored site at the Synopsys Open Community.

The issue arose because of my tips on building your subscribers, particularly #3 and #4:

  1. Pick a subject area and stick to it.
  2. Establish credibility in the subject, especially if you work in marketing.
  3. Inform, share expertise, and opinions… NO marketing hype!
  4. BUT… do counter marketing hype with solid facts.
  5. Proactively seek out others interested in the topic.
  6. Many people are still new to blogs, show them how to subscribe to RSS feeds.

Lou Scheffer, who I knew from my time at Cadence Design Systems, asked if I would contradict something (on my blog) that someone from Synopsys said or that I thought was wrong. The insinuation being, I suppose, that hype in EDA occurs everywhere - including Synopsys.

I want to be clear, since I feel that I was not successful at getting this point across at the event. I believe there is a BIG difference between pointless sniping and my personal standard of practice... which is to always counter hype with facts. During the discussion at ICCAD I made the point that the kind of "hype" that I was referring to was misinformation, using an example of a competitor making claims that were factually incorrect in regards to my product. When I have countered incorrect statements by providing factual information that has informed my readers, it has measurably contributed to an increase in subscribers. Look at tip #2... Credibility!

So, the hypothetical premise that Lou came up with - while controversial - was really not relevant. If a fellow employee made a misstatement that was factually incorrect, I would discuss it with them personally. If necessary, we would correct it in public.. blog or no blog. That would be required by the ethical standard at most companies I have worked for. You don't criticize your fellow employees in public.... do you? Why would you? Even stupider if you did it on a blog. But the point is.. you won't see sniping on my blog in regards to anyone, even if they are a competitor. Engaging in silly competitive finger-pointing doesn't inform anyone. It just makes you look petty, and that's something I would rather avoid.

Now, Gabe Moretti of DACeZine seemed to have a particularly difficult time believing this. He wrongly assumed that Karen and I had gone through a legal review, and that our blogging topics were assigned to us and then monitored by management. He even said "Stop b.s.-ing me"! Well, nothing could be further from the truth! I have heard that may be the process at other EDA companies, but I am happy to state here - for the record - that was not the case at Synopsys. All of the Synopsys OC bloggers are volunteers who selected their topic and are trusted to write their own opinions... uncensored.

Maybe Gabe is still upset because I wrote about hype on the DACeZine site back in January???


1 comment:

Sean Murphy said...

Gabe had a lot of energy around the questions that he asked. I wasn't quite sure what had aroused him to the level of engagement that he had.

For me the question of whether an individual blogger at Synopsys could disagree with management was clearly answered yes. Whether that would be the first choice or the most effective way to get a problem fixed very much depends upon the situation.

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor and engaging in a public dialog in preference to a private phone call or e-mail may harden someone's commitment to a position that in the long run wasn't in the best interest of the company.

I think all of the lightning talk presenters were clear on the fact that they owned their own writing and took responsibility for it. What they chose to write about was a function of their audience and their focus as much as anything else.

I enjoyed your talk and was also a little unclear as to what was driving some of the hypothetical questions. I thought that they were legitimate, I just didn't fully understand the thinking behind them or the underlying issue(s).