Sunday, September 5, 2010

Did I Learn Anything?

I started this blog almost two years ago in an attempt to learn more about blogging. So, it seems relevant to ask – Did I Learn Anything? The answer is yes, absolutely yes, I learned a great deal more than I could possibly explain. However, for the sake of economy I will pare it all down to five major lessons.

1) Blogging is good even if nobody reads it – it is writing practice and it becomes part of the historical record. People used to write letters to each other and save them in the attic. Historians pour through these personal correspondences to get a ground level view of a period from the perspective of people living during that period. In the future, historians may consult any records you may have created. Further, blogs are both easier to search and easier to read than personal letters. So Blogs, like letters and diaries become a rough draft of history.

2) Blogs can be used to great advantage as public research notebooks or even public journals. Maybe you don’t want to wait for historians. Maybe you have something to say today and would like to share it with others who have similar interests. You don’t have to be an academic or professional researcher. You can be a movie or music critic. You can provide opinions on beers or single malt whiskies. Maybe you have a special interest in your family history or the history of your home town. Anything that captures your interest probably captures the interest of somebody else as well. So you blog become the focal point of a shared conversation on a topic of interest to you and others.

3) Using a technology like blogging changes the way you look at the world. Your view of the world probably solidified sometime between your 18th and 25th birthdays. But the world continued to change. The longer you go without an update the farther out of touch you become. Blogging can help you keep up to date in two important ways. First, just reading the blogs of others will keep you up with the way people are thinking at the moment. Blogger are more likely to live in the present than people who don’t blog. Second, there is always a culture surrounding a new technology. They are more likely to buy certain products such as Smart Phones and more likely to watch certain shows like The IT Crowd or The Guild. Exposure to this sort of thing keeps you current in your thinking.

4) The only way to really understand blogging is to blog. Like so many things you can’t learn how to blog by reading, talking or planning. You have to try it. If you have nothing to say, your muse is probably asleep from lack of use. Write you first post on not having anything to say. Write your next one on how hard it is to choose a topic. Just start writing. Eventually, as in conversation, the words will begin to flow.

5) If you start blogging you will start doing other things. No, blogging does not lead to crack cocaine. But, if you blog, you might start posting message to a forum, or sending emails through “Contact Us” pages. You might start emailing more or IM’ing more or texting more. You might join a chat room or a Facebook group. You might even create an alter ego in Second Life. Just take that first step and other steps will likely follow.

And with those observations, I close my first blog. It is now part of the historical record and I am on to other things.

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