My blog as a book…why it’s not that great

I posted about printing my blog as a book but wanted to expand some ideas.

As I show people the printed version, most seemed quite impressed; mostly with the quality of the print, the quantity of my work and the concept of being able to publish to a traditional, familiar format.  It’s fairly novel (but it’s no novel) and could perhaps help those who aren’t engaged in digital learning to see the depth of work that is done via blogging. These people expressed that sentiment well.

I’m also wondering if producing your blog into a book might be good for those who don’t get the amount of learning, communicating, etc. that we get from working in these ways. For example, it would be great for administraotr’s, etc. that I work with to see this volume of print as a way of justifying the time that I spend learning on my blog. Online it is hard to see the volume that is produced, in a book, the learning is more “weighty” and easier to show. Clarence Fisher

Wow Dean, just recently a friend (Diane Cordell) was lamenting that her district would not accept her blog as time spent in professional development. I wonder if they would have denied it had she produced a book like this. WOW! Cathy Nelson


But as I peruse it’s contents, it’s strikingly obvious how it lacks power. Without the comments, hyperlinks, and multimedia, it’s just my thoughts and work. It clearly doesn’t capture my true learning. Blogging isn’t just about me. It’s about my learning, my network and resources. It’s about me being able to express ideas in a variety of ways, engage in conversations, and take me to all sorts of new places and spaces. Even without those aspects, how many people would read this if I published it a  book? How about zero. Instead, I’ve had over 100,000 eyeballs look at my stuff. I realize eyeballs aren’t everything but still, how many people have published their dissertation and had that type of response? This print version cost me about $50 and misses so much. I could blog for free and include all that multimedia as well.

So here’s where it hits me even more clearly. If you are a teacher and have the ability to choose how your students will demonstrate their learning, why would you choose analog text over blogging? How can it compete? Is there even one reason that analog text is better than digital? I can’t think of one advantage other than access and while in some cases that may be important, for most schools and situations, it’s not.  When you watch Michael Wesch’s first video, it’s clear how digital text changes everything. You haven’t seen it yet? That’s easy, I’ll just embed here: (By the way, if you’re reading the text version of this blog, you won’t be able to see this or click on the links or read the comments)

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  • ah, the great debate blog vs. book. When you first twitted that your book had arrived I was thinking “holy Dean writes a lot, the man knows what he is talking about, he has a book published.” Since then I too have thought about your blog as a book and although you are still a man who knows what he is talking about, it doesn’t change the fact that books have deficiencies. Often I am reading books and magazines and a website is printed on the paper, sometimes I jot it down, but most of the time I never think of looking it up again. Hypertext does so much more for the reader, it lets us realize the links and build upon our original source of information.

    I think your book does fulfill a purpose though. It is a conversation piece. It is something that measures your writing by traditional methods. The disconnect occurs because you are not a traditional author, you use new literacies to improve the message.

  • You can always use the book to prop open a door or even out a wobbly table. You can’t do that with a blog 😉

  • It would also make a great paper weight. But the blog is the item with the best “weight”. The education there is gold.

  • But it could be the one thing that the slow principal who doesn’t “get” it will understand. Too bad they are missing out on the networking that happens as a result, …but it is a beginning.

  • What a great point de départ for a PD session! I’ve been finding with the teachers involved in the Ontario Blogs project this year, that they are very focused on “traditional” assignments, e.g. respond to a book, answer a teacher prompt. It’s great to see so many teachers bringing their classes online, but I would like to push them to see the conversational nature of the blogging medium in addition to the publishing aspect. You’ve given me a great idea – publish three or four blog entries as printed PDF handouts, discuss the merits, have the teachers visit those same postings online and then compare the strengths and weaknesses of the two versions. Thanks for sharing this approach to your blog!

  • Dean, thanks for posting Michael Wesch’s video–it really shows the power of web 2.0. This video and your experience with your blog as a book really make it clear that blogs are about conversations and links and networks. No way you’re going to get that in a book. (Having said that, please don’t take away my books 🙂 )

    The challenge, as Diane mentioned above, is to get teachers to capitalize on the conversational aspect of the blog. I know that I am struggling to come up with a meaningful way to incorporate blogs into my science classes. If what I’m planning could just as easily be done as a traditional assignment, then why do it using blogs? An added challenge is that my classes consist of small groups of student’s working asynchronously. If we’re going to blog, it is going to have to be about big ideas in science, not the specific details of, say, the cell cycle.

  • Claire brings up a good point, and I am glad to know there is another science teacher struggling with this. Some classes it is easier than others (environmental) but even if it can be done with a traditional assignment the writing and reflection aspect makes the blog a better choice.

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