On Tuesday I did a hands-on session on how to blog.
We started with a short discussion about blogging and then went on to create the personal blogs using wordpress.com. This is probably my favourite blogging platform. It’s really good. Besides that, if one ever decides to get their own domain they can easily set up a wordpress.org blog and continue blogging on their own space. That’s what I have done.
Some of the technicalities of creating a blog and publishing content can be found here.
But I think what we need to do more is discuss the advantages and also the implications of blogging. Mastering the technology…? That’s easy! How you transform that one more blog in cyberspace in a personal space that’s the hard part.
There’s a set of soft skills one has to develop when blogging. And to be honest, I don’t think they can be taught, but they can be learnt! I like to call it the ‘blogging voice’ and this is something that takes time to develop. I suppose it improves as we keep blogging, just Like Seth Godin says here in the video below
Also as we start feeling more confident to talk with, and approach, our audience – those interested in your field, and also interested on our own opinion about given and current topics – it starts getting easier.
I guess the first thing we need to ask ourselves, even before we start blogging, is: what will be the purpose of this blog and how will it help me maintain/ increase my credibility in the field?
Blogs do give you some kind of projection. But the reputation you get from blogging is related to what you publish and how you get those ideas across (your style) as part of a conversation you want to engage with others, as opposite of wanting others to engage with it. Does this make sense?
What I mean is: blogging is/ should be about how you establish and keep dialogues going that are relevant to you. You blog about what you are interested in as to make deeper sense of your ideas. You leave them open to comment and critique… but it’s not about you doing a favour to others by putting your ‘brilliant ideas’ out in the open, nor will they be doing a favour to you by providing critical feedback. It’s rather an exchange that benefits both, multiple, parties and it is (should be) in this dialectic of giving and taking that your blogging voice develops and your reputation as an accessible, interesting thinker and researcher also grows. As Alec Couros said yesterday at UPEI (starts at minute 59) it’s not so much about the content, but rather about the interrelationship that are established. That social bond attached to the context of your own learning. I’d also say that from those interrelationships new content can emerge as people interrelate and collaborate with each other. But how do you go about doing that?
Blogging Style and Strategies
Blogging (and not [just] the blog tool!!) requires a different style from writing a journal article. It’s less formal in that sense. But it is also not as informal as meeting your friends down the pub. There’s a balance to the tone of the speech you adopt, but there’s also warmth in your ‘blogging voice’. I personally look for personal, passionate views on topics that interest me on other people’s blogs. I like to engage with their ideas… the way they perceive a given topic. I often also comment on that blogpost as to let them know they are being read. And I also want to test my own ideas against theirs. Above all, I want to ‘leave’ that blogpost with a smile …as a sign of new ideas forming.
Journal articles are impersonal. Their writing is most often quite dry, although, we can argue, this is also changing. Blogs are (can be) far more exciting. In blogging we are likely to convey a bit of our personality… a personal dimension which we don’t show in other contexts of our professional life… probably because of writing. I’d argue that in writing we discover a new dimension of our personality and reflective self, which we offer to others as we submit our thoughts to the judgment of a wider audience. It can be seen as a quite risky thing to do. But if we truly allow ourselves to ‘be’ part of that critical mass, it can be quite liberating too. It can allow you to grow in your thinking. It definitely helps you refine your ideas and become more ‘fluent’ in your own area of research. And then there’s the social component… that humantouch (humanware) that is so appealing to us. Again, in blogging (and in commenting) we know there is a voice talking with us and not at us. It’s crucial we develop and engage in fluid dialogues.
Another point that I’d like to stress is the fact that blogging is about us… about the individual need of sharing and learning with others, and not about us feeling “so generous” with others as to ‘allow’ them to access our ideas! Blogging can indeed be a channel of dissemination of our thinking and work, but more than that it is a channel of shared thoughts and ongoing development of ideas. That’s a basic difference between a website and a blog. Websites are (semi-)impersonal spaces displaying static information and established knowledge (whatever that means these days!); blogs are personal spaces for shared knowing. The appeal is in the interactivity and exchange of ideas it allows. The links and bonds we establish with others across the globe! Hence, if someone turns the comments off, it gives me the idea that that someone is not really interested in the conversation, but rather on the plain broadcast of their ‘terrific ideas’. Somehow, that does not engage me. I can read it, but that’s it. I know that ‘someone’ is not willing to be approached and debate my own take on their ideas. And that, to be honest, is really a shame, because in that closure we both end up losing something: the opportunity for an interesting conversation!
So yes, blogging is about conversation. It’s about us. And it is also about others. It’s about how we enable dialogues which allows us to think and share beyond our local sphere; to connect to and be part of a bigger critical community. How you foster your links is key; how you establish your voice is as crucial! All of this takes time, patience and determination. Things don’t happen out of the blue. Finding a blogging voice is hard, but feasible. But that’s another blogpost I guess! 😉
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from other experiences and takes on blogging. Do you have any personal, interesting (bad or good) experiences to share? We learn from both.