And Another Reason Why You Don’t Blog

…and by you, I mean me.

…and by blog, I mean reflect.

I have written recently about why you can’t click publish. Certainly it’s a thing for many folks. But then there are a bunch of you who say, “I have nothing to write about”. I get it. I haven’t written anything for a month. For me, that’s not good. Mr. Mega Blogger himself, George Couros recognized a slump he was in and talked about his lack of consumption. He’s right. When I first began blogging, I recall Will Richardson say that blogging was mostly about reading. The reason you blog is not just that you have something to say but mostly that you have something to respond to. The past month for me has been pretty full of presenting and traveling and teaching which often means a lack of opportunity to reflect. It’s really not a great excuse because I think, like exercise, you need to figure out ways to make time and you can always complement it with fat burning pills for easier results.If indeed we think reflecting is important, if we want our kids to be reflective, we better start modeling it. My students are asked to reflect and it’s been over a month since I have done it in open spaces. Certainly I have done it privately and that’s important too. But there is a place for public reflection. This is where I choose to do it.

As George says, I need to read and listen more and then take the time to process and share out.

Somewhat related but more something I’m thinking about is a quote I read the other day.

Most Humans

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/12993911673

There, now I’m off the schneide.

“I Couldn’t Agree More” is Meh.

First off, if you rarely read the comments in a blog, you ignore the fact that some of the best learning comes from those who respond and contribute additional ideas, perspectives and insights. Grant it, many spaces, like news sites and youtube are often places where civil discourse is difficult to find. But many blogs, particularly educational blogs offer some of the best places for conversation. Blogs are by nature conversational. Posts are meant to be reviewed, discusses and challenged in the same spaces.

via GIPHY

Yet, perhaps it’s the overly kind nature of many educators or a fear to engage in meaningful debate, it’s amazing how often I read a blog with some interesting ideas and the comments are filled with replies beginning with “I couldn’t agree more.” Now certainly there are many times when that’s exactly how you feel and so you post with enthusiasm the joy of finding a kindred spirit, I’m not here to criticize you if you’ve ever began a comment like that. Well, maybe a little criticism. 😉

I’m here to suggest that if you only leave those kind of comments then maybe you aren’t putting yourself in a position to think critically or maybe you only read people that you “couldn’t agree more” with. If you own a blog where everyone tells you how awesome your ideas are, maybe you continue to share ideas that you know will get people telling you how awesome you are, I don’t know.

I should really change my blog title to include the phrase, “half-baked ideas and thoughts” since that’s essentially what I enjoy most. Even as I write this, I wonder how it will be taken. Case in point, my previous post on the Digital Divide create some nice discussion. I did feel like I had a point, I still do, but thanks to people like Darren Draper and Andrew Campbell, suggested I might not be thinking it through completely. Darren even wrote his own post pointing out a similar idea about half baked ideas. Sure, it was nice to have people agree with me but I learned more from those who suggest I may not have it entirely correct.

While this is certainly about trust and having known both Darren and Andrew for a few years and have met them both a few times, that helps. But even having strangers challenge my work is great. Recently a dude ironically named Dean found my blog and put me to task on one of my favorite pet peeves, “rigor”. He respectfully argues and makes a great point forcing me to clarify my own thinking.

Now to try and make a point. If you comment and only tell people how wonderful they are, challenge yourself and try to find people and ideas you don’t completely agree with. Not to be antagonistic but to practice and engage in meaningful discourse where ideas and perspectives can be fine tuned. Be kind but be candid. It’s not easy but it’s worthwhile. See Bud Hunt for more. If you write things and people can’t agree more, try writing things where they agree less. I think it will make you wiser in the long run. Thanks to all the people who agree and disagree with this post. Stay kind.

Podcast 56: Why You Can’t Click Publish Part 2

I wasn’t completely happy with my last post. No, not because some people told me I pretty much was a loser because I was too lazy to fix my spelling, but because I don’t think I clearly articulated the difference between how publishing is different today. Here’s a hint at the analogy I tried.

 

Screenshot_11_26_13_11_16_PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Can’t Click “Publish”

My last blog post started with this sentence:

“Here’s the lastest videos educator’s are jacked about”

Two clear spelling errors. I had already published it and while it’s not uncommon for me to fix and edit these after I’ve posted it, I missed these two. I received a DM on twitter letting me know about this. That’s not the first time I’ve had people DM me and I appreciate it every time someone does. This time the person added that the reason they caught it was because they had forwarded my blog to a non-educator who refused to read the post because of the spelling mistakes.

That’s why many of you won’t blog or click publish. Not necessarily because you might make a spelling error but because you’re worried about what someone might think. Believe me, I do too and feel badly that this person felt so strongly about my spelling that they assumed my content and idea wasn’t worthy to be explored. The problem is many people, including some of you reading this have a old mindset when it comes to publishing.

Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button. There’s a button that says “publish,” and when you press it, it’s done. Clay Shirky

For many of you, the word “publish” remains going through some type of vetting process that when completed presumes and grants some level of authority or credibility. Not just anyone could publish, now anyone with a web connection can. Even someone who often or occasionally misspells words. Publishing also suggests that even before others might view it, that you proofread, rewrite, revise and edit until you’ve reached a polished and compositionally perfect piece of writing. After all, you’re a teacher.

Of course we all realize this has some wonderful benefits as it democratizes ideas more than before but of course it also comes with many problems. Clearly we know have to do the work of that the “cadre of professionals” used to do. Having to determine if someone’s ideas are valid requires much more of us than it used to and so we develop filters, some of which are questionable. In the case of the person who wouldn’t read my blog, the filter they use is spelling. If a person misspells a word, to them, they become irrelevant. For others it might be a sarcastic tone, an inappropriate post on twitter or an unpleasant exchange of comments. Any one of these things and many more can quickly make your best ideas moot to some.

We need to understand that this space is different, that this medium breaks down the requirements and allows for much quicker and primarily more conversations to take place means we can’t still think about publishing in the same way. I’m not suggested spelling and revision isn’t important but THIS SPACE IS A CONVERSATION, not a monologue. In this space, I have no intention of writing and ending an idea or conversation.

Books are designed to contain all the information required to stop inquiries within the book’s topic. But now that our medium can handle far more ideas and information, and now that it is a connective medium (ideas to ideas, people to ideas, people to people), our strategy is changing. And that is changing the very shape of knowledge. Dave Weinberger Too Big To Know

Many still aren’t understanding this shape of knowledge. You see your blog as some sort of fixed container instead of the new shape that invites, enables and should expect conversation.

The advice I’ve given to a few people I’ve had face to face conversations with lately, is to be clear with people that your intent is to learn and converse. Make sure they know you don’t know everything and are more than willing to be proven wrong or asked for clarification or other insights you may not have considered. I believe that’s the essence of social learning.

I talked earlier about filters. One of mine is authenticity  and humility. I look for people who don’t know everything and ask people to poke holes in their ideas. I also don’t mind and actually appreciate the odd spelling or grammatical error because in real conversations we all misspeak. We ‘umm” and “ahh” and occasionally fumble over our words. Of course the beauty of a blog or any type of written work is the power to edit and revise, as per all proofreader jobs out there. I do take advantage of that and actually proofread and edit most of my posts including this one. I make enough mistakes it’s hard to catch them all. That said, I don’t let a few unfinished thoughts get in the way of a potential conversation. I hope that after almost 1,000 posts in the past 9 years that I’ve learned to be a decent writer but I also know others are much more brilliant that I and yet that has no bearing on whether or not I click publish. My goal is to share something I’m interested in and invite others to make it better or more clear or simply take it and use it however they like.

Like you, I see and hear things that spark my interest. Sometimes, like in this case, it’s a few conversations I have face to face that I think might  be of value to others. Other times, it’s things that bug me. Sometimes it’s other people’s work that I want to share. Occasionally it’s a question I have. I shouldn’t have to tell you that you have something to share. Twitter is a little less intimidating although I have talked to teachers who are fearful clicking send on a tweet. The blog is much more about you and your ideas. I hear people are so fearful to click publish they literally sweat. I think one of the reasons I don’t sweat is because 9 years ago, I began to understand that the word publish didn’t mean what it used to mean. I didn’t fully get that but understand it more and more. It’s unfortunate that still many people don’t get it and have developed very odd filters to determine value. I should do a better job of proofreading but I won’t obsess about it and the risk of not sharing. It’s not worth it.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before

Cameron EspositoIt’s becoming increasing more and more difficult to reflect and share any idea that is truly original. This is one of those reasons educators in particular feel uncomfortable with sharing. They figure someone’s already said it, thought it or shared it so why should I? The reality is this true. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll come up with a uniquely original idea or insight or even a resource. But if you’re seeking to be original you may be missing the point.

A number of years back Will Richardson wrote about his flickr conundrum where he wondered why would he take a photo of some landmark when there were perhaps thousands of better photos of the same image freely available on flickr?

So the question is, why take pictures of places that you visit that probably aren’t going to be as good as the photos that others have already taken that are already available for you to use in your own albums, slide shows, whatever? I mean, unless you want to organize the wife and kids in front of the spot just to prove you’ve been there, what’s the point?

Interesting question but the answer to me is simple:  I didn’t take those other pictures. In addition, my picture is filled with a story and context that those other pictures don’t have. And that’s why we share and reflect because although on the surface our stories, insights and ideas may not be new, they come with our personal context and perspectives and it’s those aspects of sharing that to me are most interesting and meaningful. It’s the reason that your “research” matters.

Yes, I do get tired of seeing the same link posted over and over. In my mind I say “seen it” but what I never get tired of seeing is people’s individual responses  and thoughts on those same things. Perhaps not just via twitter where the constraints don’t make for very meaningful reflections but in spaces where you can add your perspective and share your ideas and context. That’s the real value. I never pretend to come up with an idea that no one has considered. That’s why I do my best to credit others by linking or sourcing.

Maybe originality is overrated. But your thinking isn’t.

Photo Credit: TheeErin via Compfight cc