DAC Theme #1 – “The Rise of the EDA Bloggers”

Harry Gries at Conversation Central

(Photo courtesy J.L. Gray

Last year, at the Design Automation Conference, there were only a couple dozen individuals who would have merited the title of EDA blogger. Of those, perhaps a dozen or so wrote regularly and had any appreciable audience. In order to nurture this fledgling group, JL Gray (with the help of John Ford, Sean Murphy, and yours truly) scrounged a free room after-hours in the back corner of the Anaheim Convention Center in which to hold the first ever EDA Bloggers Birds-of-a-Feather session. At this event, attended by both bloggers and traditional journalists, as John Ford put it, us bloggers got our collective butts sniffed by the top dog journalists.

My, how things have changed in just one year.

This year at DAC, us EDA bloggers (numbering 233 according to Sean Murphy) and other new media practitioners took center stage:

  • Bloggers were literally on stage at the Denali party as part of an EDA’s Next Top Blogger competition.
  • Bloggers were literally center stage at the exhibits, in the centrally located Synopsys booth, engaging in lively conversation regarding new media.
  • Atrenta held a Blogfest.
  • There was a Pavillion Panel dedicated to tweeting and blogging.
  • And most conspicuously, there was the 14-foot Twitter Tower streaming DAC related tweets.

Meanwhile, the traditional journalists who were still covering DAC seemed to fall into 2 camps. There were those who embraced the bloggers as part of the media and those that didn’t. Those that did, like Brian Fuller, could be found in many of the sessions and venues I mentioned above. Those that did not, could be found somewhere down the hall between North and South halls of Moscone in their own back corner room. I know this because I was given access to the press room this year and I did indeed find that room to be very valuable … I was able to print out my boarding pass on their printer.

Here’s my recap of the new media events:

I had mixed feelings regarding the Denali Top Blogger competition as I know others did as well. JL, Karen, and I all felt it was kind of silly, parading like beauty queens to be judged. Especially since blogging is such a collaborative, rather than competitive, medium. So often we reference and riff off of each other’s blog posts. Still, I think it was good recognition and publicity for blogging in EDA and one could not argue with the legitimacy of the blogger representatives, all first-hand experts in the areas that they cover. Oh, by the way, congratulations to Karen Bartleson for winning the award.

Conversation Central, hosted by Synopsys, was my highlight of DAC.  It was a little hard to find (they should have had a sign), located in a little frosted glass room on the left front corner of the Synopsys booth. But if you could find your way there, it was well worth the search. I’m a little biased since I hosted conversations there Monday – Wednesday on “Job Search: How Social Media Can Help Job Seekers & Employers”. The sessions were a combination of specific advice and lively discussions and debates. I was fortunate to have a recruiter show up one day and a hiring manager another day to add their unique perspectives. I think that that was the real power of this very intimate kitchen table style format. Everybody felt like they were allowed to and even encouraged to participate and add their views into the discussions. This is very different from a very formal style presentation and even panel discussions.

Unfortunately, I was not able to clone myself in order to attend all the sessions there, many of which I heard about afterwards from others or in online writeups. I did attend the session by Ron Ploof entitled “Objectivity is Overrated: Corporate Bloggers Aren’t Journalists, & Why They Shouldn’t Even Try”. Interestingly enough, no journalists showed up to the session. Still, it was a lively discussion, the key point being that bloggers don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk, and therefore bring to the table a deeper understanding and experience with EDA and design than a journalist, even one that was previously a designer.

I also attended Rick Jamison‘s session on “Competitors in Cyberspace: Why Be Friends?” which attracted several Cadence folks (Joe Hupcey, Adam Sherer, Bob Dwyer) and some Mentor folks. Although competitors for their respective companies, there was a sense of fraternity and a lot of the discussion concerned what is “fair play” with regards to blog posting and commenting. The consensus was that advocacy was acceptable and even expected from the partisans, as long as it could be backed up by fact and kept within the bounds of decorum (i.e. no personal attacks). EDA corporate bloggers have been very fair in this regards in contrast to some rather vitriolic “discussions” in other industries.

The Atrenta Blogfest sounded very interesting and I was very disappointed that I could not attend because it conflicted with my Conversation Central discussion. Mike Demler has a brief summary on his blog as does Daniel Nenni on his blog.

Late Wednesday, Michael Sanie hosted a DAC Pavillion Panel entitled “Tweet, Blog or News: How Do I Stay Current?” Panelists Ron Wilson (Practical Chip Design in EDN), John Busco (John’s Semi-Blog) and Sean Murphy (his blog) shared insights into the ways they use social media to stay current with events in the industry, avoid information overload, and separate fact from fiction. Ron Wilson commented that social networks are taking the place of the socialization that engineers used to get by attending conferences and the shared experience reading the same traditional media news. John Busco, the recognized first EDA blogger, shared how he keeps his private life and his job at NVidia separate from his blogging life. And Sean Murphy gave perspective on how blogging has grown within EDA and will continue to grow to his projection of 500 EDA bloggers in 2011.

Last, but not least, there was the Twitter Tower, located next to the Synopsys booth. Previous conferences, such as DVCon attempted to use hashtags (#DVCon) to aggregate conference related tweets. The success was limited, attracting perhaps a few dozen tweets at most. This time, Karen Bartleson had a better idea. Appeal to people’s vanity. The Twitter Tower displayed a realtime snapshot of all tweets containing “#46DAC“, the hashtag designated for the 46th DAC. If one stood in front of the tower and tweeted with this hastag, the tweet would show up within seconds on the tower. How cool is that? Sure it was a little gimmicky, but it made everyone who passed by aware of this new standard. As I write this, there have been over 1500 tweets using the #46DAC hashtag.

If you want to read more, Sean Murphy has done the not-so-glamorous but oh-so-valuable legwork of compiling a pretty comprehensive roundup of the DAC coverage by bloggers and traditional press. (Thanks Sean!)

harry the ASIC guy

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12 Responses to “DAC Theme #1 – “The Rise of the EDA Bloggers””

  1. […] Harry Gries on “DAC Theme #1: The Rise of the EDA Bloggers“ […]

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    Thanks for your kind words. I started to map out what bloggers had written about what sessions in a substantive way at first just to read it myself. After two days I realized I should do it as a blog post and update it until the end of August to capture a reasonable record of the coverage. I was surprised at the breadth and depth of coverage from 30+ different bloggers so far.

  3. mux says:

    What?? Karen has won the EDA’s “Next top blogger” award!!
    i thought Paul would have a clean sweep!

  4. JL Gray says:


    Just for the record, I’m pretty sure I never said the Denali competition was “silly” – just that the more interesting and longevity-deserving competition was the one for the “Community Superhero”.

    Thanks for the writeup, and take care,


  5. harry says:

    Fair enough, JL. As I recall it was the sentiment we felt and perhaps not verbalized specifically as “silly”. The “beauty queens” part came from Karen, though. In any case, I agree that a Community Superhero is much more worth celebrating.

  6. Nice writeup, Harry. The Twitter Tower and Conversation Central were a first for DAC – very much an experiment. I wasn’t sure how successful they would be, but I told my somewhat-nervous team that you can’t fail on something that’s never been done before. What a rocking success they were – thanks to everyone who did the work behind the scenes and participated in the activities.

    The blogger contest served its purpose of raising awareness of blogging in EDA. Hats off to Denali. (It became a bit too competitive though, IMHO. It was just a game [did I really say beauty queens?] after all.)

    #46DAC was great all around. One of the nicest times was having burgers with you, JL, and my husband – a warm and relaxing dinner with a few good friends.

    Looking forward to #47DAC with all of you,

  7. Brian Fuller says:

    Harry, great write up and great to meet you in person last week.
    Hats off to the creativity and courage you and every other engineer-blogger has shown in the past few years creating a really important voice and source for design engineering. As I straddle new and old media, it scares and saddens me that my media colleagues sequestered themselves in “their own back corner room.” It’s a metaphor and one that does not bode for the evolution of their media and their journalism.
    But, times change, and it’s inspiring to see so many smart, energetic people nailing together the framing for the next chapter in journalism.

  8. John Ford says:

    Nice write-up Harry! Starting to wish I’d been there – but kayaking in Monterey bay and tooling around Carmel instead was pretty cool…

    Sounds like social media reached some sort of critical mass and burst out this year… but I will never forget last year, and that slightly awkward BoF – and everybody getting up to leave at once when I started to talk. Made for a great story!

    Let me know when you’re in the neighborhood, and I’ll buy you a beer!


  9. David Lin says:


    I agree with all the sentiments above … this was definitely the year Social Media made a real impact at DAC and not just in “buzz”. Sean’s roundup of #46DAC blog coverage is eye-opening … who knew we would have 20+ citizen reporters generating 60+ articles. Pay attention, EDA marketers and users!

    Regarding the Blogger competition: As we discussed late-late night at the Denali party, the original intent with the EDA’s Next Top Blogger and Community Superhero contests was to highlight some of the unique individual talent in our industry, while also raising awareness of EDA blogs and rewarding community activities. We hoped it would be done in fun and didn’t expect it to get so competitive … so much so that JL felt pressured to write a couple extra posts. 😉 With several thousand votes in each contest, I think we accomplished the goals – with the added exposure, hopefully all the EDA bloggers can be winners and the overall EDA community will benefit in return.

    Anyway, both of these contests are being retired, but we’ve already started planning next year’s festivities. If you have any ideas, drop me a line …

    Best Regards,
    Dave Lin / Denali

    BTW, I’m eagerly awaiting “DAC Theme #2 … “

  10. Robin says:

    I read your comment son chip101.com and added this there. I am not a blogger or consultant and do not have any web presence and just a EDA developer.


    Cooley’s site is the most antiquated blog. The site is an exhibit from web 0.01 era. No dynamic content, bad fonts, bad layout and stupid icons. Your sites and others have a better look and feel. Personally I feel people go to a blog that is updated more frequently. I personally go to check out all the blogs that get updated daily and most advanced folks would subscribe to RSS feed and read it.

    Cooley’s blog gets updated once in eternity. and it is not a forum! It is a moderated email list. In this era of instant update with twitter (not really mush useful), that site has no room for comments or independent discussion. The emails that get printed there are not necessarily written by the designers themselves but by AC’s of companies. I think Cooley saying that blogs are bogus and his forum is great is a conflict of interest. He has a brand name that is being threatened by more advanced bloggers. that brand name enables him to get more opportunities and free licenses from vendors. All that will disappear if other media sites pick up. I frankly can not see his site as a forum.

  11. Harry, great write-up. Sorry I wasn’t able to make any of the social media sessions (too many other big fish to fry this year) at DAC. However, it was a pleasure to finally meet you in person.

  12. […] seems that the EDA industry has a strong showing of bloggers as compared to system level board engineers or even chip designers. What kinds of benefits have you […]

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