ALTC2013 Blogging connections

One of the pleasures of ALT-C 2013 for me was that I discovered/met two readers of this blog who I was not aware of.  These contacts were very meaningful for me and from them I was reminded of two reasons why blogging works for me.

1. Blogging for me is about personal reflection. One of these two readers told me that for him his blogging days had dried up two years ago. I can easily relate to that because I go through phases when I feel that I have nothing to say/write about, which always brings to mind a comment that I once heard Stephen Downes make (or it might have been write) – that if you have nothing to write about then you can’t be a very interesting person. I remember feeling completely demoralized by this – but on reflection I don’t think it’s true. Writing/blogging is not for everyone. There are many ways of expressing oneself and reflecting on practice, and many of these ways will not be in the public eye.

I’m not sure why I persevere with blogging, but at ALT-C I did say to the person who was kind enough to comment that he enjoyed reading my blog, that I use my blog as a place for recording my thinking and reflection. I often feel uncomfortable about it, but for now the benefits seem to outweigh the tensions I feel between privacy and exposure.

And when I’m really on a roll, for me Jackson Pollock’s sentence –  “When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing” could equally apply to blogging.

“When I am in my blogging, I’m not aware of what I’m doing”

2. Blogging props up my appalling memory. The other person I met who reads my blog, reminded me of a post which I myself didn’t remember. I have long been aware that I have a very poor memory and blogging is a way of making sure my thinking is recorded – a sort of memory bank. I think Lisa Lane once described blogging as a tool for compensating a failing memory – or words to that effect. I rarely read back through my blog, but I am sometimes surprised in the stats by the posts that people are reading and so go back to remind myself about what I was thinking at the time.

I have recently realized that perhaps I should make more effort to organise my blog in such a way that it would be easier to remember what I have written. This was sparked off by Matthias Melcher’s new blog – where he has a wonderfully organized Contents page.

Since Matthias recently moved his blog to this WordPress site and set up this contents page, we have been discussing how tagging might be able to help me and others find and remember what I have on my blog. I have been aware for some time that my tags are a mess, which is why I don’t have a tag cloud in the side-bar, but I have not yet sorted out a way forward out of this mess.

In the meantime, it has been great to make two new connections through this blog.

5 thoughts on “ALTC2013 Blogging connections

  1. helinur September 15, 2013 / 11:21 am

    Hi Jenny,
    I think that the search button is most important in a blog: it gives you the relevant content – I’ve stopped worrying about categories or tags.. Google also searches the whole content, not only tags I suppose

  2. jennymackness September 15, 2013 / 7:06 pm

    Hi Heli – Yes, I thought that too, until I realised that ‘if you don’t know what you don’t know’, the search button, whilst useful, will never help you have those serendipitous encounters that could be so valuable. This is what I realised when I saw Matthias’ contents page on his blog. It enabled me to see/find things that I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of.

    Does this make sense?


  3. Stephen Downes September 29, 2013 / 4:52 pm

    You write: that if you have nothing to write about then you can’t be a very interesting person. I remember feeling completely demoralized by this – but on reflection I don’t think it’s true. Writing/blogging is not for everyone.

    I would never say writing is for everyone. Quite the opposite. I have explicitly said many times people express themselves in many ways – writing, painting, music, auto mechanics, whatever, and that they’re all equally valid and meaningful.

    What my point here was that people who think they have nothing to write about are wrong. Every life is full of wonder and interest. Writing may not be someone’s best way of expressing that – but if they decided to write, there’s pretty much always something to write about.

    My writing is also often a memory aide. I read a lot of stuff (as do many people) and my posts and sometimes my articles are a way for me to remember. This is from my academic days – I found that if I took notes, even if I never looked at them again, the increased engagement meant I was much better able to comprehend and remember what I was being told. There was no real engagement in university classes – so I made my own.

    Finally, a shout-out to Matthias Melcher, who also created a really nice table of contents for my own articles. I can’t say how much I appreciated that.

    Though that said, I remember once ago, writing a two-line poem along the lines of: one thing I never get tired of, is sorting my stuff.

  4. jennymackness September 30, 2013 / 7:46 am

    Hi Stephen – thanks for the clarification and I’m with you on why note-taking is helpful. Also thanks for the shout-out to Matthias.

    It was great to finally meet you at ALT-C 🙂


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