The best Canadian technology bloggers

Shane Schick compiles a list of the online voices that could change the way IT managers do their jobs for the better

Let's make this absolutely clear: this list is subjective. But isn't that what an IT manager would want -- someone who's already browsed around a lot to tell them where they should be adding an RSS feed or a favorite to their browser?

There's still a dearth of actual IT managers blogging about their role in Canada, perhaps because so many of them are too busy trying to manage their infrastructure and respond to business needs. Instead, it's the marketing mavens, the vendor execs and members of the media past and present who fill in the content gap. And, surprisingly, some of them do a great job.

My criteria for this list was pretty straightforward. Bloggers had to be fairly consistent, posting at least a couple of times a week. They had to be tuned in, both to their own local industry and the larger trends outside of Canada. Finally, they had to be good enough that I wished they were writing for me. That said, I know I've probably left out some good names.

One last thing: This list isn't hierarchical. The last person mentioned isn't the least of the best. These bloggers are all in a league of their own.

1. Mark Evans Tech

Why him? It helps that Evans was a longtime technology journalist with The Globe and Mail and The Financial Post, which means he's used to working on deadline and has no problems keeping interested in a vast range of subjects. But he's also worked the other side of the fence, co-founding the startup BlanketWare, and later working at B5 Media. He's now director of community at PlanetEye, an online travel guide. He's been doing this long enough that he knows the technology, especially on the telco side, and his entrepreneurial experience gives him credibility when he's talking about cutting edge-applications. It also helps that he was one of the lead instigators of Mesh, Canada's Web 2.0 conference now in its third year.

Sample post: "As much as writing original, insightful posts is every blogger's goal, the reality is, it's difficult. Sometimes, the ideas aren't flowing, but you still need to feed the blog every day. Sometimes, jumping into the conversation of the day just feels good. "At the same time, however, writing original content is so much more satisfying because there's a sense of accomplishment that you've been inspired by something you've read or talked about with someone. It's those nuggets of original content gold that make blogging so rewarding."

2. Rob Hyndman Law

Why him? The lawyer works with both vendors and corporate enterprises to untangle the intricate contractual issues that come up in their relationships. His interest in IT is best expressed by a quote, attributed to Gregory Benford, that appears at the top of his home page: "Any technology distinguishable from magic is not sufficiently advanced." Sometimes all he offers is a simple link and a dash of commentary, but his verdict is usually worth consideration, especially when he becomes the voice of the common user.

Sample post: "It's now been about two weeks since I installed Apple's Leopard on my two Macs, and, without a doubt, this upgrade is the worst OS upgrade experience I've ever had. I think that's saying something -- I survived Windows 98, however many iterations of XP there were, and fled to the Mac, in part, because I was tired of spending so much time on forums and technical support pages trying to get my systems to work as advertised... I spent 20 years managing multiple machines through several iterations of MS operating systems and this is the single worst upgrade experience I've ever had. And it's not over. I'm still a convert, but much less happily, and certainly much less credulously, so."

3. Social Media Group

Blogger: Maggie Fox

Why her? In a short time, Fox has become the go-to girl for everything Web 2.0. As a consultant, she helps businesses understand how to use tools like RSS, wikis and other social media to their advantage. Her client list is impressive -- SAP, Ford, Harlequin Publishing -- but it's her ability to understand how consumer trends influence enterprise behavior that makes her ideas worth reading.

Sample post: "When the noise outweighs the signal, the system stops being functional because people stop being able to productively use it... Rather than being told I need to read something, the responsibility would shift and I would need to find and read the information I require to make effective decisions or keep projects going. I'm not just talking about using things like wikis and other platforms to facilitate collaboration -- that's not news. I'm talking about thinking about how social media tools can fundamentally change the nature of internal business communication from push to pull."

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