Are blogs and conference speeches inherently about self promotion? If so is that a bad thing?
Recently I mentioned my Planet configuration on a mailing list where most people don't track new technology. Some people viewed blog entries for the first time as a result of this and then claimed that blogs appeared to be mostly about self-promotion.
It seems to me that people offer conference speeches to promote technology that they believe in (which often equates to self-promotion as such people are well known to be associated with the technology in question), for promoting themself or their own business, or to promote the company that employes them. Of these categories of talk the worst ones are those which are given to promote a company, it's especially bad when a talk starts with "the guy who was supposed to give this talk was called to a client so I'm doing it instead" - this indicates how much the company cares for the quality of the talk. Someone who is promoting themself will care about doing a reasonable job. Someone who promotes their favourite technology will usually give a great talk! But corporations rarely get the idea that a good quality talk which makes little mention of their products is the most effective advertisement. Of recent times Google seems to be the best example of a company which gets this idea, at many conferences there are Google employees giving talks about various technologies not directly related to Google operations without any direct sales pitch. Everyone who attends such talks gets the message - Google has hired many smart people and has them working on cool things.
It seems that blogs are often written with similar motivations to conference presentations but with no control over the topic and less quality control. The difference of course is that a blog doesn't get a forum the way a talk which is accepted by a conference will. So a corporate blog has to be really good to get readers.
PS I've added the day15 beard picture to this entry, it was taken on the 22nd of October, but I had only just got around to GIMPing it and uploading it.