Blogging So Far
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.
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
What Bloggers Do
In the Middle of the Curve
Blogging as Therapy
Forget Blogs it's all Network Effects, Baby
(video with Tim O'Reilly)
The Egalitarian Nature of Blogging
Educational Blogging with Will Richardson
(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:
Blogging Sixth Month in
Five Reasons Why I Blog
Five Reasons Why I Blog - Nº 100
More related links in my del.icio.us
(Then, of course the pics! And a last edit touches before pressing 'Publish')