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Blogging So Far

Defining Blogging, a Year On

A year ago, I started a blog. I was looking for free hosting to create an online resource tool -mainly for the need of accessibility anytime, anywhere. I stumbled upon Blogger and my first blog was born. Quite accidentally.

A year of online discoveries and experiences has moved me further and deeper into an understanding of blogging. Mind you -still a beginner's view.

As I have already been asked by my employer to present again about my blog for students (now with wiki), I am reviewing the previous slides. And my question is:

How would I define blogging now?

Towards a definition
Where to start?
Well, reviewing what I did last year... (Would you do it differently? Comments?)

My last year focus was all about the possibilities of the tool. The how-to start and organise a blog.

Today, the point is not the tool itself; but what the tool enables.

So I'll jot down some notes in this post, as a way of clarifying my thoughts on the experience of blogging so far. Then I'll add a few links to what fellow bloggers are saying.

From tools to people

The Internet is people. But what kind of people? People in motion. People who would rather discover than wait until they are told how-to. People who resort to
meaningful nodes in their networks of like-minded people. It is the attitude in front of the screen that makes all the difference: knowing you will know. It is all there, somewhere. Findable.

1. Finding people's work
Forget Google. I haven't used it in a long while. The things I am reading now I have got to read by someone's referral. Blogs, wikis, agregators, networks or bookmarks.
Google to me now is a kind of lonely statistically driven engine. The last thing I resort to. Funny when you think
they started as an attempt at an annotated web. The kind of annotations I look for are produced by bloggers, not engines (yet?).

2. Reading a reading
I mean, looking at a topic the way others read it. Blogs among blogs, perpetual conferences that allow me to read in ways unheard of in the f2f world. If I read an info static, encyclopedic page about Web 2.0 and then print it to read with colleagues, we will perhaps be misled if we think we are exchanging
varied opinions. We are just people who share background, context and probably purpose for reading. There can be variety, yet not much diversity. Blogs show me the way a reader reads. Blogging is reading and writing in a diffused (i.e. hyperlinked) totally diverse (i.e. global, conversational) context.

3. Contacting people
Can you study today without contacting the author? Do you learn APA, write papers with the hypothesis they will be published one day in the respected, accepted journals your knowledge community reads? Really? Most of my university classmates write as if they were going to publish -knowing all the time they never will. Just a few of us will get published. But we all work hard at acquiring the style of the community we -in the end- are already a part of.


Blogging could be a way of making your first steps into a community. Perhaps being accepted and why not receive some help to make a successful entry after graduation.

4. Testing an idea
Ideas in the making propel blogs. Not finished, corroborated thesis statements which are far less engaging for people to comment on. Posts need to leave an open door for readers to contribute with their
thoughts. A blog is a vehicle to put your thoughts to the test. Rollers for your thoughts!

5. A blog is a learning engine
A node in your PLE (personal learning environment). A virtual zone of proximal development. Learning happens when you connect to other people (other, meaning diverse , not just a group of different people). Reading alone with my books is half way to learning. I need to ask. If the author cannot be consulted anymore, I'd much rather find what their readers are writing in blogs. Always connecting, constructing, learning.

6 A blog is a seed
Once published, a post starts a perpetual journey. A blog-powered thought can start travelling aimlessly, but will get ahead with other bloggers' breeze. Ideas swifting on the blogosphere. Post towards a post. If they contribute to the conversation, they will somehow find land to grow in a far off blog.


Afterthoughts

What a blog is not
A blog is not a book. Not even a chapter. It is always a draft, a preface, maybe an appendix or addenda.
Not all punctuation is applicable in a blog. Take fullstop, for instance. When a post ends in a fullstop, the comments read: Great, good! They add nothing to the conversation.
Better end your posts with a question mark or semicolon. Meaning, thoughts please;

And this leads me to something my blog is becoming right now...

7. A social network node

My blog is the main carrier of my ideas and identity. My thoughts in the making, my classroom experiences tell more about me than my degrees. My blog is where other people in the conversation can get to know who I am and which conversations will engage me most.

Other people. The Internet is all about meeting people. Choosing the teachers that will make you grow. Where can that happen? In social networks. But that is subject complex enough for a brand new post.

............................................

(I've been reading these links while drafting this post)

Bloggers reflecting on blogging
David Truss
Learning Conversations

Tony Karrer
What Bloggers Do

In the Middle of the Curve
Blogging as Therapy

Think:lab
Forget Blogs it's all Network Effects, Baby
(video with Tim O'Reilly
)

Stephen's Web
The Egalitarian Nature of Blogging

Steve Hargadon
Educational Blogging with Will Richardson
(audio)
..................................
(Wrote my thoughts. Then I searched my RSS to see what my ELT colleagues where saying on their blogging experience)

Teachers of English reflecting on blogging:
Pab's Potpourri
Blogging Sixth Month in

EFL Geek
Five Reasons Why I Blog
inspired by:
Steli Efti
Five Reasons Why I Blog - Nº 100

More related links in my del.icio.us
http://del.icio.us/fceblog/blogging_experience

........................................

(Then, of course the pics! And a last edit touches before pressing 'Publish')

Pictures attribution:
woodsy
coralsee
mordoc
Nota
spekulator












Labels:

In her “Memoires d’Hadrien”, Marguerite Yourcenar makes Hadrian say something similar to this: “the written word taught me to listen to the human voice, as the big immobile attitudes of statues taught me to appreciate gestures. Instead, later, life enlightened books.”

Perhaps blogs have this dual quality: books/life.

Gabriela

Great post! I´m looking forward to my first year of blogging :) Keep on rockin´

After reading this I looked back at my first post... a year ago tomorrow!

I really like your points about Google and Reading a Reading. I didn't realize that my Google use had declined until you pointed it out. As for reading, I should be finishing my Book Club book, but I can't read for more than 10 min. without hyperlink withdrawal... my brain is so anti-print right now, I actually hope that I can find enjoyment in a good paper book again.
This is a very insightful post:-)

This post is a great read and thanks for the mention

Gabriela,
Blogging so far has made us connect in a different way through the written word. We have known each other for a few years, but I am certainly rediscovering you! This is another meaning of blogging to us, don't you think?

About blogs having a dual quality, yes, I agree. Blogs enlighten learning. No doubt.
...................
A Note
The links in this post were simply meant to show my recent readings. They brought a side effect, though. Everyone mentioned is either checking their Technorati links or I am on their RSS, not sure, but they all came over here to read.

Steli and David, who are approaching a year of blogging, left a trace in comments. Others just their pictures in MyBlogLog widget.

David,
I confess I also find it hard to read books. My eyes move sideways looking for the hyperlinks! I was wondering whether other bloggers go through a similar phase. Thanks for pointing it out. Let me know sometime how you get on with it.

Thank you for letting seeds of this post grow on your blog.
...................

A couple of hours after posting this, I found an interesting post in David Warlick's blog:A Blogger as a Writer
The post made me reflect on how I had delayed publishing this post.
My comments:
Dave,

Roughly at the same time you were posting this, I was posting my notes on what blogging means to me now -after a year online. Notes I had saved as draft for two weeks. Reading your post I realise that what kept me from publishing was the feeling I was simply talking to myself.

I had enjoyed very much the clarifying process of putting my notes in a post, but then I wondered what would all that say to my new readers? The interesting comments I had received in my previous posts were powerful enough to create a sense of companionship. I’m not thinking to myself anymore.

I am not sure I agree you work harder than before. But you definitely work differently. I might just as well collect trails of my thoughts for myself and keep them in a private journal. That is a draft you can later change. What made me press ‘publish’ today, was the certainty I was ready to invite the reader to reflect with me. Blogging is so personal, some people will disagree. If they comment, they will become my teachers.

I am glad I landed on this post.

Claudia,
I just wrote this in response to your comments on my blog and realized it was more appropriate to respond here:
- - -
How serendipitous... When I first read this post (one of the 'seeds' to my post), I followed some links within your links and came across Christine Hunewell's "a blogger as writer". When composing my post, I spent about half an hour looking for it, it really was another seed to my post!
... and here we are full circle with you, once again, providing me the link- thankfully the path is more direct this time. (Now it has been del.icio.us-ed)
- - -
You mentioned that this post was 'stream of consciousness' writing for you and you wondered, "how much sense would readers make of it. I was talking to myself."
I believe that state is an ideal writing state, and that some of my best writing has come when I have written to/for myself. It would seem the same is true for you :-)

Thank you for your comment, and your wonderfully inspiring post!

I enjoyed how you were able to look at blogging through different lenses, capturing more than just the writing tool. Having been at this for about 4 months, I'm always searching for new writers to see what they are doing and how they are approaching the world using technology. I'll be coming back for more!

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