Can Blogging work for you?

By Paul Murphy, author of The Unix Guide to Defenestration

Blogs, or web logs, are a fairly recent fad mainly, I'm told, among teenaged girls. I wonder, however, if the technology may not have a serious use in a data center.

One the key conflicts that arises in most data centers where many people have root access to Unix involves the change log and the procedures around it.

The most difficult thing about a change log is getting people to see it as something more than a mechanism for tracking and assigning blame and therefore to review it as a necessary step before making additional changes.

Worse, even if you get people using it, that co-operation usually doesn't last. In mixed environments, for example, the change log tends to be maintained as a Wintel document in either Excel or Word format and this, of course, exacerbates the normal Unix sysadmin's tendency to ignore it when making small changes --thereby quickly reducing the its role once again to just another management excerise in CYA.

I've not had a chance to try it, but the buzzitech nature of blogging may make it sufficently attractive to the Wintel community that a smart sysadmin could slide in a weblog, on Unix of course, as a more user friendly and effective multi-user tool for collecting and sharing information about system changes.

That would have to accompanied by a Perl script to draw daily, weekly, or monthly change reports for management from the blog, but should, overall, improve user communications with systems administration, result in a subtle transfer of control from Wintel to Unix, and improve the accessibility, and thus usefulness, of the log itself.

Provided you can get people to use it, of course; and that's something I'm not confident of. If you try it, please let me know what happens.