November 14, 2012

The Trouble with Blogging

I've been fortunate to be able to spend time with so many great educators. Thoughtful, reflective practitioners who are full of enthusiasm, ideas and a passion for teaching and learning. So when I pose the question (one I got from Will Richardson) "Can I find your best work online?" it usually leaves folks challenged and at times guilty. 

To relieve some of that pressure, I've changed the question, to "Can I find any of your work online?" Part of the reason for rephrasing the question is to emphasize that our notions of publishing are still based in the analog world where publising meant a vetted artifact that was seen as a finished, highly refined product. Sharing online is not really about that. No one is suggesting that the old model of publishing doesn't have merits but that world is dying. 

"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

More smart people need to get this. I assumed this was a central reason why great teachers weren't blogging. I may be wrong.  

The blog as a place, is still the defacto sharing platfrom in my mind. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and the like are fine places but they aren't your space so I think the blog remains the best place to accumulate and house your stuff. The trouble with blogging however is that it's still bias towards writing. We see very few examples of people regularly sharing and reflecting with video and audio. The tools are easy and ubiqitious but the medium is still intimidating, just like writing is for many. 

At a recent conference, after sharing my call to post online, I had an interesting conversation with a very bright, reflective person who told me she found writing very painful and draining.  Writing even the shortest reflection took her so long and even then never felt it was good enough. While I might blame our old notions of publishing for this and might suggest as Seth Godin does that writing, and writing badly is still good, it doesn't really address the issue. Writing is not for everyone. Just like speaking and articulating ideas verbally may not be everyone's strength. The conversation I had with her was very interesting. This wasn't a case of someone who didn't want to share but someone who didn't know how. She had tried audio and video but again, those are not easy mediums either. I'm sure with practice, anyone can find proficiency but that may miss the point. I realize that for me writing is relatively easy. This post isn't going to take me more than 30 minutes and while I'm under no illusion that it's a work of art, I do feel comfortable articulating my ideas and hopefully generate some discussion. (I really hope Bud offers a word of insight). That's a big reason why we blog. Anyone who says they blog and don't care if anyone reads it, is being a bit disingenious. Otherwise they'd write in a journal. If no one reads this, it's still valuable for me to write it but I hope others will chime into the conversation. 

But blogging still represents a medium that is bias towards writers. I'm not sure how to change this. I want people to share. Not just a great link, although that's useful, I really want them to search their research, their vulnerability, even when they suck. During my discussion with the woman last week I did offer the suggestion of recording a discussion with a colleauge and making their casual conversation her reflection. Taking your offline conversations online is a powerful way to combine where you might already be comfortable and sharing it with others. 

Maybe their are some great examples of reflection that doesn't rely on text? Again, I can write this in 30 minutes. What other medium is this fast and efficient? Text is great but I wish I had a better response to that woman last week.