I was interested in Mike’s ten minute blog post about why he blogs. I can relate to a lot of what he has written. In particular I find these paragraphs describe exactly how I feel:
I blog because it helps me explore, self-assess, reflect and document my current intellectual state. This includes concepts I’m grappling with, ideas that I’m exploring, research I’m conducting, or support I’m attempting to lend to others.
As wierd as it sounds, when time passes and I’m not able to do this I start to grow out of touch with my own intellectual state. Ideas start to fade, continuity becomes disrupted, concepts to explore rise and then disappear unresolved. The end result is I feel less on the ball, more reactionary, and more cognitively disquiet.
I have always seen blogs as a tool for reflection and I define reflection and reflective learning as ….
…the process of thinking about my own thinking, actions or learning, with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of them and improving them, so that I can see the evidence in changed behaviour. To make this reflection significant, I need to mark it in some way, by talking about it or better still recording it in written form. Finally, I need to revisit the marked events at some later stage and note whether my learning has improved/moved on.
But in a public blog the reflective process can be compromised by writing for an audience. This thought has a arisen because today I met my brother in-law for lunch, who for some reason had Googled me and of course, as you will know, he came up with pages of my blog posts. I find this a really embarrassing aspect of public blogging. My brother-in-law thought that anyone who needed to blog, must also have a need to be noticed! This line of thinking was a bit of a shock to me. Is it true and even if it is, does it matter?
I do find the whole ‘exposure’ aspect of blogging difficult to deal with. In this post, for example, are my concerns about blogging and the related exposure of interest to anyone else but me? I don’t think I ever make a post without wondering whether it is too trivial, or will it be of interest to anyone, or whether I should just keep my thoughts to myself. And when I think about these things too much I get writer’s block and can’t write anything.
But I do enjoy blogging. Actually, it not so much the blogging, it’s the reflective process that I enjoy. And having tried blogging both ways, privately and publicly, public blogging does have its rewards in the connections you can make to others and the discussions that you can engage in. It’s difficult in private blogging to move your thinking on, when there is no-one to challenge you or promote further thinking.
So, for now, I’ll keep marking these random thoughts, in the hope that from time to time they will amount to something!
Have you closed your private blog? I still need my localhost wordpress for the tiny pieces that are not yet worth writing publicly. And I made the surprising observation that the way how I am reading has become more fruitful when I merely think if I could blog about the stuff, even though in most cases I will not do it.
Thanks very much for this post – you’ve made some important points that I want to come back to when time permits. For the moment though I’ve recorded my initial thoughts as a video comment here:
RE: Reasons for Blogging (to Jenny Mackness)
Hope all is well!
Hi Jenny, I enjoyed this post of yours and sympathize with your questions and concerns. I particularly like the way you characterize your blog as a reflective space – an opportunity for some metacognition. If I were talking with your brother-in-law, I think I’d want him to more fully understand the value of a blogging community (maybe pointing to the CCK08 experience – which is where I “met” you) and the write/comment/respond/revise cycle that results from that. And that would lead me to the notion of the read/write web where I’d try to put the act of blogging into its larger context. I think I would also want to explain to him that, for me, knowing that someone will critically read what I write makes me try harder. I want to make my thoughts clear, I dive deeper for insight, I work harder not to prattle on and on – even to more meticulously correct my spelling and grammer. The blog readership serves like a razor to sharpen my thinking and my writing. And the last (and maybe the most important) thing I would share with your b-in-l is that blogging, when done well, is more than public journal-writing because good, thoughtful bloggers (like you) write their blogs in such a way as to invite in their readers – to comment, to question, to challenge, to agree/disagree. And that is a very fine habit of mind to get into.
Reply to Matthias
Thank you Matthias http://x28newblog.blog.uni-heidelberg.de/ for your comment. No – I have not closed my private blog. It is interesting that I find it more difficult to write consistently to my private blog, but when I do write to it, it includes reflective material that I would never publish – it is far too personal. I try to update my private blog – which I call ‘Commonplace Thoughts’ at least once a month.
I also keep blogs for other purposes. There is this one, which started to accompany a course and is now, since the course has finished, undergoing an identity crisis!
There are private blogs that accompany courses I am either teaching or attending. These might be public for the duration of the course but then I close them down again.
And then there are holiday blogs – which may or may not be private. They might not be private as I write them, but I make them private when I return from my holiday!
I can really relate to this that you have written:
And I made the surprising observation that the way how I am reading has become more fruitful when I merely think if I could blog about the stuff, even though in most cases I will not do it.
I think this is so true.
Reply to Robin
Thank you Robin http://robinheyden.wordpress.com/ for your comment . It’s lovely to keep in touch and I appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my post.
You have given me lots to think about. I wish I had had you at my side when talking to my brother-in-law. As it was I let his comment pass, but found myself reflecting on it a lot.
Reply to Mike
I was thrilled to receive your video comments, which have given me plenty to think about (see post ‘scratching your own itch’). Thanks so much for taking the time when you are so busy with your young family and your workload. I am still thinking about your comments.