Blogging isn’t about fame

I think I was rather muddled in my last post, as all three comments interpreted it as saying 'I want to be more famous'. This wasn't my intention, so let me clarify what I meant.

Firstly, let's place my blog in its role to me as an academic. One of the joys of blogging is that there are no restrictions – blog posts can be long or short, text or multimedia, blogs can be about a subject or an individual, they can be serious or fun. If I was a research student, say, then the role of my blog would perhaps be much more as a tool of self-reflection. As a Professor of Ed Tech at a distance education university, who has a kind of new technology remit, my blog is central both to my academic output and my identity. As such I need to be a little harder on myself about it, than say, a leisure blog about films. I regard my blog as equally important as academic publications, research, teaching, university projects (actually, probably more so, but don't tell the bosses).

Therefore, as a professional it's only right to be reflective on your performance. That's what my last post was meant to be, although in a humourous fashion (okay, not that humourous I confess).

Secondly, when I mentioned technorati ratings, links, comments and number of subscribers, it wasn't because I was interested in these as an end point. Rather that, as in any professional practice, one seeks feedback. If I am teaching I want to know that a) students are learning, b) I'm doing a decent job and c) what I'm saying is interesting. The same goes for publishing an academic article – you want someone to read it and find it useful. So, as part of the reflective practice, you seek external verification that you are communicating effectively, and do not rely solely on your own judgement.

In the blogosphere therefore comments, links, technorati ratings and subscribers act as a very rough proxy that you are communicating effectively and what you are saying is interesting. They are far from perfect, but for the way I perceive my blog, they have some role.

Thirdly, it's not about fame and ego – it's about feedback and conversation. It's nice to know if what you are saying is of any interest, but much more importantly it becomes much more interesting, motivating, deeper and better informed when it becomes part of a wider conversation.

So, that's what I was getting at. My conclusion was that I was doing okay as a blogger, but I could be better. The reason I chose the example of other actors (De Niro etc) wasn't because they were more famous than Affleck, but because they had produced better work (if we ignore late De Niro and Hoffman anyway). I think it's important to take stock and seek to improve. For instance, reflection has led me to conclude that my practice of linking has slipped, usually because I'm rushing to get a post out. The reason I don't link enough is because I don't read as many blogs as I used to. So, my first resolution (blogolution?) is to read, and respond, more.

6 Comments

  1. Keith Lyons says:

    Martin, your post is the first discovery from my enlarged Twitter account!
    I think you make very strong and clear points here particularly in relation to reflection and linking.
    CCK08 has helped me understand just how important conversations are with co-travellers.
    Best wishes from late night Australia!

  2. Keith Lyons says:

    Martin, your post is the first discovery from my enlarged Twitter account!
    I think you make very strong and clear points here particularly in relation to reflection and linking.
    CCK08 has helped me understand just how important conversations are with co-travellers.
    Best wishes from late night Australia!

  3. Cindy Seibel says:

    Feedback is why I blog and in other ways publicly post my writing. As a graduate student I took a course at a different university and was subjected to the “old” way of writing papers that only my professor was going to read. It only marginally advanced my own thinking and learning to write that way. It was missing both the opportunity for feedback and the potential contribution to others’ thinking. Criticism promotes deeper thinking, at least that has been my personal experience. (The paper is now posted publicly at my home university.)
    I keep two blogs – one is my personal reflection on my learning journey, where I selfishly pursue my own interests (and still receive welcome feedback), and the other is where I share and seek feedback on contributions to the edtech community. In Dean Shareski’s words: Lesson #1 Share Everything. Knowledge is only powerful when it is shared with others. Self-knowing does little to advance the common good. To continue your movie theme, Apollo 13 is a great example of collaborative problem-solving!
    I am also intrigued when my network extends beyond the edublogosphere, as I think new and different perspectives challenge us out of the academic/education box. Public education is accessible to all and so learning needs to be understood by parents and policy-makers alike. A broad conversation engages others in the issues and can bring insights on all sides.
    Thanks for your post(s)!

  4. @cindy – I’m absolutely in the share everything camp. Its just a habit you get into – and the thing is you can never predict when or how it will pay off. As for feedback it’s great but we live in attention scarce times – I know I don’t comment or link anywhere near enough.

  5. Keely says:

    Hi Martin,
    I’ve come to your blog via unit 9 of H808 and have to say that before starting the course, had never really considered the benefits of keeping a blog. I must say that now I’m addicted and wish I could say the same about MyStuff, which I find cumbersome and time consuming and now I can’t find anything!! If MS could be designed more like the OU blog, I personally and I don’t think I’m alone, would use it more often and enjoy the experience.
    Keely
    P.S I enjoy reading your blog and am glad it was listed in the resources. I hope to be here more.

  6. The key problem, as with much of scholarly communication, is measuring the impact you are having. In traditional scholarly publishing you might use citation indexes and your ‘h’ factor, or other bibliometric measures. With the blog you mention using measures like technorati ratings. All of these measures are flawed.
    I suspect many bloggers have the same issue. I don’t know how many people read my blog, and although I get occasional comments, often posts elicit no discernible reaction from my readership (however big that is).
    I installed Google Analytics on my blog recently to try to find out a bit more about who reads my blog and how often people come back etc. This is complicated by RSS subscription of course – many readers may just subscribe to these and Analytics won’t pick it up.
    What I have found is the most popular post on my blog consistently is record of a presentation I attended 3 years ago which included a SWOT analysis of Google Scholar. This is actually not very interesting to be honest – it’s clear to me that the ‘popularity’ of this post is to do with it mentioning Google and SWOT rather than any particular insight (which wouldn’t even be mine, as it pretty faithfully records the presentation, and has little in the way of comment).
    So, I’d suggest the first question you need to answer is what you are aiming for and then how you are going to measure success. But make sure that you pursue your aim, and not the measures!

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