Sunday, 20 June 2010

Do technical blogs help get the message out there or do they just confuse readers?

What sort of a title for a blog is this? Can a blogger really be going to suggest that people reading blogs are going to get confused or, even worse, misled? Well, without wishing to shoot myself in the foot or appear like a turkey voting for an early Christmas, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. The blogosphere is fully of conflicting and confusing information. There – I’ve said it!

Let’s turn our attention away from mainframes for a moment. And there’s a reason for doing so – people reading this article probably already share many of the same assumptions as I do about mainframes. So I want to turn your attention to the gee-whiz gadget at the moment – the Apple iPad. Now before we go any further, let me be absolutely clear that I’m not going to name names – Google makes it very easy to find examples of what I’m talking about. So, here’s the question we may have all asked ourselves: “do I want an iPad?” To help make up my mind, I start searching the Internet for articles and blogs by people who attended the launch. The first thing you find is that opinions are divided. I never bothered to count because the number of pages was very large, so I can’t give you a percentage of “fors” and “againsts”, but, suffice it to say, numerous bloggers were totally sold on the gadget and can’t wait to get their hands on one, while other blogs listed the iPad’s faults – no multitasking, no camera, awkward keyboard, no flash, not HD, and locked into Apple apps, etc. So for someone who doesn’t really understand, how do they make a choice?

So, let’s go back to mainframes and see what people are blogging about mainframe futures. Well, we have people convinced that the IBM z11 processor is the route to Nirvana, and other people suggesting that unless we migrate all our applications on to Microsoft boxes our data centres will come crashing down around our ears. There are blogs extolling the virtues of cloud computing to finally make the end user computing experience like shopping or using utilities (like gas or electricity not like IEBPTPCH or IEHMOVE!). There are other blogs suggesting that using a mainframe has many of the characteristics of cloud computing already and we’ve been doing it for 40-odd years already – plus ça change!

I’m sure I could do exactly the same thing with car models – some writers would extol their virtues, while others would focus on the vices of the vehicle. Or I could use the Internet to make a choice about a washing machine, a fridge, a university course, anything!

The problem is simple. The more egalitarian the Internet has become, the more people are happy to share their opinions or repeat the opinions of others. As a consequence of more people giving an opinion, there are more opinions out there are to read – leading directly to more confusion amongst the browsing population!

So what’s the solution, I hear you ask? Well the answer is to rely on the opinions of people you trust. Now, that’s easier said than done. So, if I wanted to get a good inside into mainframe trends, I would look at the following blogs:

IBM’s Mainframe Blog, which is part of its zNextGen initiative, ( This has a number of short videos as well.

Another good blog is James Governor’s Monkchips site (

Definitely worth a look is Marc Wambeke's Mainframe Watch Belgium at

There’s a humorous blog by CA’s Reg Harbeck at I still like his entry, “How to Talk Like a Mainframer”.

Bob Thomas, who owns zJournal, is blogging at

Willie Favero’s excellent DB2 for z/OS blog is at

There's an interesting blog at The Raised Floor by Jeffrey M Birnbaum, Mike Desens, Tom Gross, Rich Lechner, Chris Mines, Jerry Murphy, John Patrick, Neil Rasmussen, Will Runyon, and Steve Sams, which is at

There’s a group of techie/creative people working in and around IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK. They produce an interesting blog is at

There are a number of very insightful blogs at IBM’s My developerWorks. You can click on the links from

Always up-to-date is Mark Fontecchio’s blog at Mainframe Propeller Head. He’s been a reporter for TechTarget since 2006. The URL is
An occasional blogger is Steve Baugh, styling himself The CICS Guy. His blog is at

And, of course, don’t miss the Mainframe Update blog at

But when it comes to buying an iPad, or a car, etc, you’ll have to find your own experts in the blogosphere!


Savio Saldanha said...

As a Mainframe Blogger ( - some of of just do it out of love, the ability to display photo's of where we live and to openly and honestly answer some questions that we commonly get from collegues and customers that may be relevant to more than one. I agree with your comment about trust.

Howard Baldwin - Columnist said...

Trevor, your material is usually dead-on, but no one's updated "The Raised Floor" since January 2009. As they used to say on Monty Python, "That parrot's dead."