by Karen Lopez
Last year I hosted a session on Getting Started in Blogging for Data Professionals at Enterprise Data World. I had a great turnout considering the topic and time (I think 50+ people). We had a good discussion about blogging, social media and how most of the discussions on the Internet had moved from closed mailing lists like dm-discuss and the ones I host at InfoAdvisors to other homes on the Internet.
But over the past year I haven't seen many people in the data architecture and modeling space pick up a keyboard and start blogging. Yes, we have a great crew of bloggers here at Dataversity.net, but how many blogs have you seen about core data modeling and architecture topics outside of Dataversity? How many people are active on other social media to respond to data modeling questions? I feel as if there fewer than a dozen of us actually sharing tips and insights in a public forum on the core topics of data modeling. And much fewer are blogging and sharing tips about how to make data modeling tools do what they are supposed to do.
They Want Our Help
When I attend IT events that are on the edges of data modeling (database, coding, IT administration), I hear all kinds of frustration from new data modeling tool users that there's just no place to connect with users who actually understand the tools and how they should be used. It's incredibly frustrating for them, as other IT professionals are used to going to Dr. Boogle to get around an obstacle or to figure out where to find a feature. Other communities do this naturally. So most of the people I've talked to give up and go back to Visio and PowerPoint as their data modeling tools. Or they give up on data modeling.
They want our help. They can't find us in our cubes and conference rooms or on that closed mailing list.
People Are Learning Data Modeling from the Internet...and We Aren't There
That scares the crap out of me.
We have a chance to influence and mentor accidental data architects. But we aren't. We are leaving them to help files and vendor support calls. Or random tweeters to advise them to just use surrogate keys and then it won't matter what the business key is. Or that they should just drop a bunch of database constraints instead of tuning their queries. Really. When I answer questions on other forums and networks, my advice is drowned out by others telling people how to solve data problems. And these people don't love data at all. It's painful to watch.
Data Modeling, Time and Bloggers
I know that you are thinking "BUT I DON'T HAVE TIME"...and you are right. You don't have spare time. None of us do. Neither do those other communities. They contribute to a blog to give back to their communities because they know sometime this week they are going to need others to be there for them. When SQL Server DBAs have trouble figuring out an error code they don't head to microsoft.com first; they head to a search engine. Or the #SQLhelp hashtag on Twitter. They might end up on a Microsoft site, but the also might end up reading a blogger's take on what the error code means and explains what should be done next. Or at least points to knowledge base articles that actually help. That one blog might save others thousands of hours of painful work in the community.
It seems to me when a DA runs into a problem, she calls her vendor. Not because we love chatting with tech support (Hi Mary! Miss you...Hugs!), but because we know there is a very tiny chance that someone else has blogged about this issue. We sometimes go to a vendor support forum, which can be helpful. But only if other people on the forum have taken the time to post there....and have received an answer that works.
State of the Union of Data Modeling
In last month's State of the Union of Data Modeling, my panelists Anne Marie Smith and Sue Guens talked about this missing-in-action data-architect-blogger-tweeter and how the IT profession is suffering because we aren't there. We also talked about our status of influence in our IT organizations, something I've been talking about on panels for the last 25 years. I wonder if these two things are related:
- we don't share our tips for making other data modelers more productive and more valuable
- and we suffer from not being productive and valued in our shops.
So I've given you the number one reason why data modelers don't want to share...what are the other reasons?