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Engineer-bloggers and the future of the electronics conversation

Posted on | July 27, 2009 | 2 Comments

What’s the future of electronics B:B journalism? Look no farther than Harry the ASIC Guy.

An engineer by education, experience and passion, Harry Gries is carving for himself a niche in the electronics-design conversation with his eponymous blog, Harry the ASIC Guy (Twitter: @harrytheasicguy).

I talked with him recently for a story on social media in electronics for wrote about this for EDN (Twitter: @EDNmagazine) earlier this month, “EEs, vendors search for their voice, answers in social media.” And I’ll be blogging about the impact on the electronics engineering space in the coming days and weeks based on those and other interviews.

Evolution of a blogger

Gries spent part of his early career building gate arrays from 1985-92 and then migrated to Synopsys where he moved into management, business development and program development. He’s now consulting from his base in southern California, one reason he created Harry the ASIC Guy.

“That’s one reason why I started producing content. I was listening to content, or reading it, absorbing it before that. But at one point I had a conversation with a mentor … and he said ‘you should start a blog.’ I did it because I felt like I needed to write. This will be a good way to create a brand, and it’s something people can point to.”

The blog is young (started around ESNUG in 2008), and Gries can’t yet connect the dots between his blogging and any lift in consulting work:

“I can’t quantify that I charge a higher hourly rate. I can quantify the audience size. The kinds of interactions I have (are with) people I never would have had contact with (without the blog). It’s talking to people who are otherwise just names and may be intimating because of their VP title. But they turn out to be human and approachable.”

Gries sees the engineering paradox but doesn’t believe it means that engineers will remain on the social media sidelines much longer.

“In terms of Facebook and Twitter and reading blogs the ones who are sitting there doing design are slower to adopt rather than people who are CAD managers, or project managers looking for more information. But go back to the Usenet groups—comp-dot-whatever. Engineers invented and used that quite a bit.”

Face of the future?

Gries and J.L. Gray and Paul McLellan and a battalion of emerging engineer-bloggers could be the new face of publishing in the electronics industry. They’re articulate domain experts posting timely and relevant information and building community. Will they supplant the traditional conversation-stirrers, the EE Timeses, EDNs, EDs of the world? They will only if two things cease to matter: Independence and the day job.

Each of these bloggers has a focus and a particular bias that makes them what they are (that’s a good thing). The industry’s publishers, despite their struggles, still serve a role as independent filters for news and information of the electronics world. Secondly, each has a day job that pays the bills. At the end of the day, the math is simple: The number of hours devoted to blogging has to take into consideration the number of hours in a day (24), the number of hours bringing home the bacon (at least 8 and usually 12), the number of hours commuting, attending to family and friends, doing chores, eating, sleeping, dealing with your fantasy baseball team, etc. Some days there’s more time; some days less.

How marketers and the existing media work within that reality is the next big question. (Read Paul McLellan’s recent post about marketers, DAC and the new media to get a sense for the evolution).

Postscript: Denali is hosting a contest to determine “EDA’s Top blogger.” Voting closes at 10 p.m. PDT today (July 27), the first day of the Design Automation Conference. Gries is one of the nominees as are Karen Bartleson, John Busco, J.L. Gray, Paul McLellan, Daniel Nenni, Frank Schirrmeister, and Colin Warwick.

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2 Responses to “Engineer-bloggers and the future of the electronics conversation”

  1. Twitted by bradpiercephd
    July 27th, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

    […] This post was Twitted by bradpiercephd […]

  2. Colin Warwick
    August 16th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the article and the mention! I started my blog because of the trend away from “marketing communications” (a one-way stream of press release, brochures, and web pages) to more personal conversations. It’s been a great experience so far.

    — Colin

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