I am reading a collection of articles from the book The Best Technology Writing of 2009 . I’m not very far in yet (the first piece is about Griefers, people in online worlds who try to make the games a miserable experience for others, which was unsettling to read) but last night, I was very deep into an essay by Andrew Sullivan about why he blogs. The piece is called “Why I blog.” In it, Sullivan goes deep into the value and pitfalls of the blogging world and it made me think about the same question: Why do I blog?
It seems to me that people blog for different reasons, at least in the circles that I wander. Some just post links to resources. Others write about their experiences as teachers, or as parents. Some share actual writing (short stories, images, etc.). Some use their space as a journal. Others, for a platform for videos and/or audio.
So, what I am doing here at this blog?
First, some background. I created this space about 1,250 blog posts ago (in years, that is about 3 1/2 years ago). I was spurred on to do it by a friend from the National Writing Project, who was blogging herself as a special education teacher in DC (see her blog) and she could not believe that I was not doing it, too. I was using blogs with my students at that time, so I knew about what blogging was and how to use it. But I was not blogging myself. Not as a writer. Not as a teacher. This was during my wonderful summer of technology known as Tech Matters, out in Chico, California, and Maria’s excitement and encouragement was all that I needed to check out this Edublog platform. I signed up and was off. I named it Kevin’s Meandering Mind because I knew I would be moving in different directions, writing about teaching but also music, writing, family and more. It’s a wide path I follow, which may frustrate the reader (sorry) but that freedom keeps me thoroughly engaged. I started out with some reflections on Tech Matters (see my very first post here at this blog), and then later, I began doing some podcasting of my history as a songwriter.
Many, many posts later, I am still here in this space I created in 2006 in Chico. So, why do I blog?
I blog because the act of writing gives me a chance to reflect on what I am doing. I am one of those who learns by doing and who understands by writing, and although I could do that writing in a paper journal, I admit that I like the stage of the world. The act of reflection in this space collects my thoughts as a portfolio (God forbid, the whole thing crashes, right?) and I often go back to see what I wrote about certain projects or ideas.
Like Andrew Sullivan, I see the blog as a different kind of space than writing for publication, which requires more in-depth thought and work to sustain an idea over a stretch of time. A post on the blog is what is on my mind right now — right this minute (although sometimes, an idea peculates for a spell before it spills out of my fingers). The immediacy of the action of blogging has always attracted me. I write fast, and when I write, I let my mind take over and just let it go (see reference to Meandering Mind above). Sometimes, I am surprised by what comes out on the screen. It has always been this way with me as a writer. I let myself surprise myself. A pencil slows me down. A keyboard is the perfect companion to my thoughts. And a blog to me is a perfect platform from which to write.
I blog to explore. There are so many cool tools out there, and so many more just bubbling up, that it becomes difficult to gauge the value for the classroom and for learning. We could rely on others to test things out and evaluate, but why not do that ourselves? I am one of those fools who jumps in, tries it out and then comes out the other side, ready to write about what I see as possibilities and drawbacks. I blog to share that with the world, and hopefully, here and there, I spark some interest in others. I would never have had that possibility before the world of blogs.
I blog to bring ideas into my own classroom — from webcomics, to stop-motion movie making, to creating publishing platforms for them as writers. I blog to see possibilities.
I blog because it has brought me into a rich world of collaboration and friendship. I have people all around the world with whom I have joined together with to create videos (the Collaborative ABC Project), photos (Photofridays), writing about our lives (Slice of Life), reflecting within the confines of a sentence (Day in a Sentence) and many others too numerous to name. This blog is the heart of much of that activity and I love how it expands my world exponentially.
Why do I blog? I blog because I am a writer.
Peace (in reflection),
Hey, what about the iAnthology? You have so much you can’t keep track of it all. I just downloaded that book to my Kindle. Funny, I’ve been away from Twitter and I just started clicking back and forth from Facebook. Catching up on links has been great. A perfect place for resources.
As I clicked around to find that book I was wondering how long it would take me to get it. I didn’t even think it might be available on my Kindle. I have never been able to get a ed book that way, but things change so fast here. Too bad the rest of the world is so slow- the Senate.
Okay, I’m going to get to some reading…
The iAnthology, too.
But that project stems from you and I and the NWP more than my blog, but I suppose it is all connected in many ways, right?
This is a great post for a few reasons (at least a few in my mind.) All writing is a form of communication and it comes back to audience. You write to reflect, a kind of talking to yourself. You are also speaking to many other readers so your writing is also targeting us as well. No doubt, your writing has changed over the years since Chico and I’m sure it’s all the better for the effort.
You got me to thinking as well – Why do I blog? My blog was originally set up as another communication tool for parents. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer but the process has allowed me to reflect, digest, reword my thinking as a means of comprehension. This thinking through blogging has been targeted at classroom parents as the audience. Over time, I have found a few folks outside of that small circle are visiting the site as well and so I also speak to them now.
One of the greatest things about blogging is the opportunity to learn about other great blogs in the world and now my Reader is quite full. I am constantly learning new tools and so blogging is a real hobby as I put these tools into action and talk with others through my comments. I like blogging for the opportunities in communication it provides.
There is a very small blog that was nominated for an Edublog award. This new blogger writes a short post each day about his day in kindergarten. It is so simple that anyone new to blogging could use it as an example for how to keep it simple as you begin. The blog is called Look at my happy rainbow! – very simple short reflections on his part.
Kevin, this makes a nice question for bloggers to reply to. I think I’ll tweet this today a few times. Maybe we can get more comments.
I wonder if you will ever create a blog to write about being a teacher?
Just a thought from an interested friend
Hmmm… Not seeing that in the foreseeable future as I still don’t have the confidence in my craft to evangelize. I know I am constantly learning and invariably that means I realize how little I actually know. Only time will tell. Thanks for the suggestion.
I have been blogging since 2006. My blog Langwitches is my outlet to:
* document my work
* see the progress of my own professional development and growth
* help me reflect
* get feedback and advice if I am on the right track or haven’t considered one perspective or another
* connect to my PLN
* disseminate my students’ work to reach a global audience
* share my own learning and teaching, so someone else can reach students, I will never see or meet.
and like you, I blog because I am a writer. I enjoy writing 🙂
I love your points here.
I blog to help out my colleagues. There’s way too much out there for us to explore individually, and often the colleague closest to our “teaching soul” is one we haven’t met yet who is 1000 miles away. The person in the classroom next door may not care at all about the great new web site you’ve discovered, or the perfect picture book integration you’ve found, but it’s exactly what some teacher on the other side of the country has been searching for. I also blog to bring some organization to my own thoughts. Parceling out my personal connections in periodic posts is therapeutic in some ways.
Good way of putting it — covering a lot of distance to connect with peers.
I really like thls post and it has got me thinking…
I like especially:
“I like to surprise myself.”
Or rather: “I let myself surprise myself”.