Thursday, March 31, 2005

Clarification on banned blogging

Boing Boing has a copy of the letter the Vermont principal is sending to those who write him. It explains what I had hoped was true - that only myspace has been banned. Apparently, his comments were not talking about blogging in general but rather that one site. Ah, the press... they never get it right, do they?

Mr. Sousa makes an interesting comment, though, about those in the blogging community who were quick to condemn him on the basis of the newspaper article. He says
I am greatly offended by the arrogance that people have to presume that we have not taken advantage of this teachable moment. It seems that you would rather get up on your soapbox and shout then have a meaningful conversation. You are very misguided here and I do not wish to have a reply. Rather I hope that you would refrain from snap judgements based on blurb articles when it comes to judging our educational system.
Now, assuming this is an accurate quote, his comments make me think that perhaps some bloggers failed to be as courteous as they might have been. That's too bad.

At any rate, we can all rest better tonight knowing that kids in Rutland, Vermont can blog - just not at myspace!

Teachers Who Position Their Blog or CMS as their Professional Home Page | Kairosnews

Kairosnews has a post Teachers Who Position Their Blog or CMS as their Professional Home Page | Kairosnewsthat has made me think. The question is whether or not my blog is what I consider my main online presence.

I had never really thought about that before. Would I want prospective employers to read my blog? What conclusions would they draw about me? Is my blog a better initial representation of me and my professional life than the site I've set up as an e-portfolio would be?

After reading the post and thinking about it, I have decided to link to my portfolio blog from this blog. I had already done the reverse. But the question still remains as to which site I would give out as my URL.

No matter which answer I eventually come up with (and I have to admit that the answer might depend on who I was giving the URL to and for what purpose), I think this is a good reminder for me that what we say here in our blogs is public. A good blog could be a professional asset -- but a bad one would definitely be a liability if someone were to stumble upon it. Something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Vermont high school bans blogging

Thanks to Darren for a link to this newspaper article that explains why a school has banned blogging.
Rutland Herald: "Officials at Proctor Jr.-Sr. High School have banned access from school computers to an Internet site that students have been using to post to weblogs, or blogs.

Principal Chris Sousa said the decision to block the site from school was made because blogging is not an educational use of school computers.

But he's also urging parents to keep tabs on their children's blogging, with a particularly close eye to what personal information the student may be posting on sites like

'It's not so much a school concern as it is an issue for students and parents,' he said. 'This site particularly was getting a lot of hits. It's a blog site but they also post pictures and biographical information and then send each other notes.'

He added, 'My concern is less as a principal and more as a dad.'"

It isn't clear to me from the actual article if all blog sites are being banned or if it is just the Myspace one that is named in the article. It sounds like just Myspace, but the headline and the views expressed would seem to include all blog sites. (If anyone knows for sure, I would appreciate you letting me know.)

Now, I can agree with the principal that there are concerns when children are online, and those concerns may be greater when we discuss blogging because children might disclose personal information that would make them vulnerable. What I have trouble with, though, is the idea that the solution is to ban it. Why not teach students how to blog safely? But that obviously wouldn't work for Sousa if he believes that "blogging is not an educational use of school computers" as the article contends. This is the most unsettling of his statements to me.

I wonder if any teachers at the school had their students blogging before this edict came down. I would guess they didn't. And now, of course, it would be almost impossible to start. That is really too bad. I would hope that some teacher in Rutland would be willing to invest the time and effort required to look at some of the great blogs written by students and the class blogs that are out there if for no other reason than to be able to demonstrate to Principal Sousa that there are educational uses of blogs.

Explaining away my absence

I remember reading somewhere that it is a good idea to write about why you are not going to be posting to your blog if you are going to be away for a while. That way your readers know that you haven't just disappeared off the face of the earth. Unfortunately, I didn't remember that until I was already on the road!

So here I am, apologizing for my absence. Once I catch up in my reading (It seems like everyone I read posted something in the last six days!), I'll be back to writing. I have missed it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Why Women Blog

Rosa at Community College English pointed the way to WORDBirthing, where Joanna would like women bloggers to answer two quick questions. If you are a woman and blog, please take a couple minutes to check it out.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Group Wisdom

Once again Kathy over at Creating Passionate Users has said something that I really agree with. In her post One of us is smarter than all of us she talks about a conference presentation by James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds.

Kathy refers to portions of Surowiecki's talk and book, writing:

The wisdom of crowds comes not from the consensus decision of the group, but from the aggregation of the ideas/thoughts/decisions of each individual in the group....

"Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise. An intelligent group, especially when confronted with cognition problems, does not ask its members to modify their positions in order to let the group reach a decision everyone can be happy with. Instead, it figures out how to use mechanisms--like market prices, or intelligent voting systems--to aggregate and produce collective judgements that represent now what any one person in the group thinks but rather, in some sense, what they all think."...

"Paradoxically, the best way for a group to be smart is for each person in it to think and act as independently as possible." [Bold and italics are Kathy's]

Now, I haven't read the book and I didn't hear the presentation, so I can't comment on whether or not she reports Surowiecki's points accurately (although I assume she did). But what she says is exactly what I believe to be the wisdom of the group. We shouldn't try to come up with some sort of answer that makes us all happy but rather we listen to everyone's ideas and take the best of them and construct something new and better. This requires that each person feel free to express his or her opinions and, even before that, that each person have an opinion.

This also requires that people learn not to be attached to their ideas. If I have a wonderful idea, great. But once I share it with the group, it has to become nothing more or less than an idea the group has. My idea, like everyone else's, can be changed, adapted, modified, added to, subtracted from, or ignored -- as the group decides.

There is a fine line between what I describe and trying to reach decision by compromise, I know. But it is a definite line, and you know when you have crossed it. It has to do with independence and the way in which people approach this diversity of ideas. Are new ideas listened to or rejeected out of hand? Are people reluctant to express their ideas? Do some people's ideas always get ignored while others' ideas are always accepted or is there at least a sense that this is what happens?

In the circles I travel in, we talk about the clash of opinions and ideas, as opposed to the clash of personalities. It is hard to achieve, to keep our personalities and our egos out if it to the point that we truly look at the ideas and opinion of others. But when it happens, the results are amazing!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A survey about using PDAs in education

Carmen Molina, a graduate student in Ed tech from Mexico has posted a survey about the use of pdas in education over at PDA Mexico. If any of you use pdas with your students, please take a moment to look at her survey. At the moment, it is only available in Spanish. If you use PDAs but don't speak Spanish, please let me know and I will try to help you translate it.

Teacher web presence

Jim over at A New Adventure makes a great case for all teachers having an online presence. I absolutely agree with him on this. I also agree when he says
I think a teacher blog is the best way to have a web presence.

1. Blogs make it easy to create and post. You need to know how to type and navigate around a web page.
2. Blogs are interactive. Parents and students can interact with the teacher.
3. In less than 20 minutes a week you can keep your blog up-to-date.
4. Blogs can be used for multiple purposes, posting homework, student publishing, web links, and more.
5. Blogs allow for additional features as your technology skills grow.

I am happy to see the growing number of teacher blogs out there. Maybe someday we will see that, as Jim says, all teachers have a blog or some other sort of up to date web presence.

Academic versus personal writing: another perspective

In a post entitled Blogging as Creative Nonfiction over at Composition Southeast, SG refers to a book called The Fourth Genre edited Root and Steinberg. From there, a quote from Nancy Simmonds:
If I could teach my students one lesson about writing it would be to see themselves as sources, as places from which ideas originate, to see themselves as Emerson's transparent eyeball, all that they have read and experienced--the dictionaries of their lives--circulating through them. I want them to learn how sources thicken, complicate, enlarge writing, but I want them to know too how it is always the writer's voice, vision, and argument that create the new source. (181)

Being personal, I want to show my students, does not mean being autobiographical. Being academic does not mean being remote, distant, imponderable. Being personal means bringing their judgments and interpretation to bear on what they read and write, learning that they never leave themselves behind even when they write academic essays. (182)
Just this section, alone, makes me want to read the whole thing!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Changing our schools

Darren has a link to the Drs. Eide and an interesting post on the need to change our schools. They state that three basic assumptions must be re-examined. They are:
· The notion that all students should master a core body of information at the same rates and in the same ways, using identical educational materials and informational pathways. ...

· The notion that students are best educated in age-based cohorts. ...

· The notion that lecture-based classroom instruction should be the primary--even a major--route of learning for all students ...

While I think these are very valid points, I wonder at the enormity of what they are proposing.

Looking at elementary education, it seems obvious that not all children learn at the same rate and some schools have mixed age groups, I guess. But by high school, we certainly think all fifteen year olds should be able to learn Biology at the same time in the same way. I know we, as teachers, try to address multiple learning styles, but that seems to be an adjunct, not the core of the course. We generally lecture. It is how we were taught and how many if not most, of us teach. But, as the Eides say, we aren't preparing our young people for the world they are going to face.

I see the need for the kinds of changes the Eides and others are calling for, but I struggle to envision what school would look like if we implemented some of the changes. How can you do this on a large scale? The assumptions the Eides mention need changing are some of the reasons I homeschooled my own children - even while I was teaching inthe public school system. But most of our schools are so very far from this right now. I guess I can see this happening on a school-by-school basis, starting as it already has with the elementary schools. The challenge for high schools and, I think, colleges is to find our own ways of changing to better serve our students.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

So what's wrong with being an outsider?

Chris Correa has an interesting post from the Boston Globe about Einstein and how part of what helped him do what he did was that he was an outsider. Chris made the comment
I wonder about what lessons to take from this. Most outcasts don’t fare that well. And most people are not as smart as Einstein.
I cannot speak from anything but my own experience, but I would have to disagree with Chris.

I think, first of all, that there is a difference between an ousider and an outcast. When my children were young, we moved a lot. They were always outsiders. Because of that, they turned to reading. They all three learned to read, basically, when we moved to different countries where they knew no one. That exposure to reading developed the habit that has allowed them to go on and do some of the great things they have.Granted, none of them has come up with a theory of relativity. Those kinds of things don't come along very often, as Chris pints out. But I would definitely have to say that in many ways, being an outsider was good for my children. It allowed them to explore who they were as individuals and, I think, to do some good things they might not have done had they been part of a group.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

SAT and blogs

I was reading Chris Correa's post on the new SAT. It is an interesting post, but I was really taken by his quote of an Oregonian editorial which does not think too highly of the new test. One of the ways it demonstrates that attitude is by making this comparison:
In truth, the 25-minute test measures teenagers’ ability to write glibly at length in a free-associative, unresearched and self-referential manner.

In other words, it seems the newest measure of college-worthiness is: Can you write a blog entry?

It was, I thought, an interesting argument. In other words, bloggers write very off-the-cuff, unresearched pieces. I know a lot of people who should be offended by that.

Evaluating Blogging

For those of you who actually read this blog, I would like to remind you that a few days ago I was discussing how far to go in encouraging students to blog. I commented on Dennis Jerz' rubric and said it was a little to rigid for me. Well, I got a nice comment to that post from him, and I would like to address it here.

Dennis said, among other things,
I wrote that list because students in some of my gen-ed classes were clamoring to know how I would evaluate their blogging.
Good point. Our students, especially the ones who are required to be in our classes and are, therefore, required to blog or do whatever else we ask of them, are generally going to be concerned about the grade they get - possibly even more concerned about the grade than about what they learn. (DISCLAIMER: I know that is an overgeneralization, but bear with me, please!) It is only fair, in that situation, to give students an idea of what we expect. They would have a hard time with our saying something like, "Well, I want you to explore the materials presented in the course on your blog and find relevant material out here on the web to link to. I also want you to contribute your thoughts and ideas to your classmates by commenting on their blogs." OK, we can tell them that, and probably do, but they are still going to want to know how this affects their grade.

Dennis goes on to say
You're right -- the students who get the most out of blogging aren't the ones who stop writing when they've met the criteria.

So the rubric I posted is more instructional/formative (helping the student get the most out of blogging) than it is descriptive/evaluative (helping me to evaluate).

This is what I was trying to get at in my post. Students need to be required to do a certain amount of blogging in order to get used to the whole idea of writing online and to develop the habit. Looking at it from that angle, Dennis' rubric seems to be quite good. He spells out exactly what he expects, and he expects enough that students will have an informed opinion of blogging by the end of it.

He continues
I like to think that my rubric is flexible enough to encourage the devoted blogger to put in extra time.

Obviously, someone who wants to blog more will blog more. Blogging, by its very nature, allows for that. By leaving it somewhat open as he does, students have choice - which is critical, I think.

So, I guess maybe I shouldn't have used the word "rigidity" when referring to Dennis' rubric. There is flexibility in it. So what is there about it that bothered me? In re-reading it now, I think the detail in it seemed overwhelming. He was just covering all his bases, I know. And he obviously has more experience with it than I do. At any rate, I apologize if I offended Dennis or anyone else by my comments. It wasn't my intention.

I truly love the way blogs allow me to learn from and share with people around the world with people I don't "know". Blogging gives us so much so easily. I admire the educators, like Dennis and Barbara and Anne, who are trying their best to share this medium with their students. There is no magic formula yet, and maybe there never will be. In the meantime we can all get out there and read each others' blogs and link to them and share the knowledge and ideas that are out there. Thanks, Dennis, for taking the time to make me look at this again.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Regional differences and the teaching of writing

A very interesting discussion on Composition Southeast and Composition Mountain West. The topic is regional differences and their impact on teaching writing.

While the basic idea behind these two blogs is that there are regional differences that affect the teaching of writing in the two areas, the posts point out that there are some similarities, too. In this case, the problem doesn't seem to be so much a question of geographic area but rather of how homogeneous a place is. When everyone comes from the same background, has the same belief system, the same attitudes and approaches to life, it can be difficult to teach there - especially if you don't entirely share those ideals.

I teach in a pretty homogeneous situation: all my students come from the same religious background and share a similar attitude toward life. As I commented on SGs post, I think I have an obligation to try to stretch my students' thinking a bit. I cannot go too far afield, but I can expand their horizons ever so slightly. I think that is part of my job as an educator.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Plain, Predicatble and Trustworthy -- That's Me!

Well, Nate gave us a link to this "scientific" test -- at least that's what it says on the site! Unlike Nate, I am a d6.

I am a d6

Take the quiz at

I actually took the test twice, giving different answers and hoping for different results, but it came up d6 both times! Guess I just have to accept the fact that I am plain, predictable and trustworthy!

Eliminating Paper

Thanks to Darren for a link to this article about the paperless school.

I have noticed that my own students respond similarly. I have used the Internet Classroom Assistant provided at for a number of years. This allows my students to post homework to the website rather than turning in a paper copyAfter they turn in their homework there,I read it and either grade it or send them a message (built in to the system) telling them what corrections or changes need to be made. I love having less paperwork in my life, and my students appreciate it, too.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Great Post

I just read Patrick's post thanking people who have encouraged him. I think it is an excellent post.

I wish my college-aged students knew how to integrate a quote into a text as well as Patrick did - and he's only in 5th grade!

Way to go, Patrick!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blogging is like an avocado

Me: I don't like avocado.
Mom: How do you know? Have you ever had avocado?
Me: No. But I don't like it.

Now, my mother is a smart woman. She knew she loved avocados, and she knew they were expensive. So she never forced us to eat any on those rare occasions when she bought one. Why waste it on us kids? More for her.

This came back to mind when I read Barbara Ganley and her post Trouble in Blog Paradise. In it she reflects on the amount of freedom that student bloggers should have. See, she has one class that won't blog. Should she force them to blog by evaluating their blogging? Should she guide the blogging process in that reluctant class? She discusses the problem and some related issues and then finally comes to her conlusion - at least for the time being:

Perhaps I let my students flail about too much. Perhaps I should make it easier for them, on them. And so I have a choice here. I can require my students to blog, or I can abandon the blog, or I can keep working with them to see the value of informal discourse, of conversation, of thinking out loud, of writing for this medium as well as for the page. And of course, that's what I'll do-- keep working on ways to put the responsibility in their hands, saying: you blog, you benefit. Simple? We'll see.

She isn't forcing them to eat the avocado, but she is going to continue to offer it to them and to enjoy eating it in their presence.

I think she is right. If we make blogging too prescribed, students will not be as likely to take ownership of blogging. It will be an assignment like all their other assignments. I think, though, that we have to come up with some way to engage them in blogging long enough for them to make a real decision about blogging. We don't want a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything new to keep students from even checking it out.

I think Dennis Jerz takes it a little further than I would want to in terms of rigidity, but I can see value in requiring blogging and letting students know exactly what I expected of them in that regard. The trick, I think, would be to find the impetus for them to want to blog over and above some basic requirements. As I have said earlier, I think students need some structure in order to be able to develop the habit of blogging. So I guess I would opt for a semi-structured approach in the beginning. But there has to come a time when they decide to blog for themselves.

I didn't learn to eat avocados until I was an adult. I honestly don't remember when I first tried them again, but I remember that I loved them. Let's hope that our students will come to appreciate blogging sooner or later. Or if that is not possible, let them at least know enough to know why they don't like it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Comp Teaching: Conversations on a continuum.

I have come back to this post at Comp Teaching several times. While I have attempted to locate the article she is talking about, I haven't been able to do so yet. At any rate, It seems that she explains it quite well.
Comp Teaching: Conversations on a continuum.:
To unpack Bazerman for students, I would explain the conversational model as:
1. Read first for understanding. (Ask yourself: what can I learn from this person? Annotate content.)
2. Read second for reaction. (Ask: What does this mean? Annotate response.)
3. Write a reaction statement and reconcile #1, #2, with what you know on the subject.
4. Write an evaluation where you use #3 in combination with additional research you do to 'compare the claims and evidence of a number of different sources' and identify places for comparison and/or points of contention.
5. Identify an issue in #4 that you would like to develop further and write a description of the problem.
6. Consider what information your audience may have read and determine if additional explanation or analysis needs to be done.
7. Begin with #1 again with new sources.

I think this set of questions, which she has developed from an article by Bazerman entitled “A Relationship Between Reading and Writing: The Conversational Model”, will be very effective with my own students. They don't know how to read academic articles in English. They certainly don't know how to write about them. I could see taking them through this process step-by-step. It just might work!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Iranian Blogging

The BBC ran an article about Iranians around the world blogging and about the reasons blogging is so important for them. Check it out here.

Technology and the small school

A couple weeks ago I ran across this article from eSchool News about the Governor of West Virginia and his take on the importance of technology to small rural schools. Just now getting around to writing about it, though. The article quotes Linda Martin of the organization Challenge West Virgina and says,
She said equipping each school with distance-learning technology would cost about $20,000, but it would save millions of dollars in school construction and transportation costs.
It is amazing when you think of it that way, isn't it? $20,000 is nothing these days.

In my very small college, we used to offer French. We don't offer it any more because we only had two students who took it the last time it was offered. If we could make distance learning a normal part of what we do, it would be easy for the students who want to take French to do it. It would require technology, but even more, it would require a mindset that we don't have yet. I congratulate West Virginia on electing a governor who is on the ball -- at least on this point.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Living below the poverty line?

Appropos of nothing, I just found out that I am poor! The New York Times and Yale University think so, anyway. Heck, I'm poor even by Harvard's standards.

The Times article,

Yale Cuts Expenses for Poor in a Move to Beat Competitors

by Greg Winter says that Yale won't require parents earning less than $45,000 to contribute anything to their child's education at Yale. It goes on to say that Harvard has a similar program for parents earning less than $40,000.

I teach ESL at a college. I could get a HUGE raise next year and still not be above the limit at either school. Too bad I don't have a kid who wants to go to Yale!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Blogging: recycled skills or something new?

Bud the Teacher had a post this morning that I keep going back to. In it he refers to a post by Steve at Teach42 about blogging. Steve asks the question
One last question to mull over: Do blogs offer up a new way to teach the same skills we’ve already been targeting, or do they represent a new skill set that we need to be incorporating?
Bud says that his gut reaction is a mixed one - yes and no. He says
Blogging as I am beginning to understand it asks a writer to take ideas and weave them together — a little of this, a little of that, add some critical analysis and you’ve got a good piece of writing. That’s no different than any other writing that I ask my students to do. I want them to think critically.

But blogging, because it involves hypertext and the entire Internet to draw from, adds a layer. Students linking and cross linking can get, well, complicated. as you say, a blog can help to make clear a “conversation occurring in slow motion,” which is precisely what a good piece of writing is — it speaks to the pieces that came before and it hints at those to come.
He goes on to say he isn't content with his answer but that it is a start.

My own initial response is that blogging finally makes all those old skills we have taught forever relevant. It gives students an audience. It provides almost immediate feedback - not from the teacher, who is most likely going to say "Nice job!" and then point out all the errors, but rather from people who are much more likely to comment on the substance of the post than on the mechanics of it. There is a need, as Bud points out, to teach students how to link to other posts. It is not all that different really from asking students to synthesize information from various sources, but the techinical part of it must be taught.

I think that blogging should be taught without much reference to "regular" writing skills. There are too many people who have a hard time putting pen to paper. Let them think that blogging is something unrelated to writing. I think we can interest a whole new group of people in blogging if we don't turn them off before they get started.

Blogging is good for the brain?

Once again the old bloglines account has come to the rescue!

I was reading Nate's post on Ubiquity. He mentioned a blog called Eide Neurolearning. I liked what I read in his post and went to the Eide blog. What I found was a very interessting post on the value of blogging on our brains. The part that really struck me was this:
Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.

Research using the Lemelson-MIT Invention index found that invention is best fostered in solitude (66%); yet other research has shown the beneficial effects of brainstorming with a community of intellectual peers. So blogging may combine the best of "working by yourself" and "working with other people." Bloggers have solitary time to plan their posts, but they can also receive rapid feedback on their ideas. The responses may open up entirely new avenues of thought as posts circulate and garner comments.

It's that mix of on-my-own and with-the-group that I like about blogging. We all have something to offer to the group, and blogging provides us the means of doing so.

Thanks, Nate, for the link!

Professional health and well-being

Once again I find myself reading and very much liking what I read over at Creating Passionate Users. Kathy Sierra has a reminder for us all on the need to stay passionate (or enthusiastic, if you prefer, Aaron!) about what we do. She gives four tips in her post Creating a
1) Find a way to be around others who are passionate about the work you do.

2) Attend conferences.

3) Ask yourself, "What did I used to really love about this?" Remind yourself why you wanted to do this!

4) Learn something new.

Kathy's ideas give us a clue, I think, to one value of blogging: our own professional well-being. Blogging puts us in touch with other people who care about the things we care about. It also is like a little mini-conference every day, and we can definitely learn something new.

So once again, I thank Kathy for helping me to understand my own field better by talking about hers.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What is a blog... revisited

I guess in some ways I have answered my own questions about blogs, the ones I had when I started this project. Way back in January I asked What is a Blog? I didn't have any good answer then. But as the weeks have passed, I have figured out what a blog is to me.

My blog is somewhere between a personal journal my husband's ideas of a blog way back in January. (He has, by the way, changed his mind about all this, too, as I have journeyed through the blogosphere.) It is obviously personal because I write about things that matter to me. I am not, however, telling you about my daily life, my thoughts and desires. Instead, I tell you (if there is a "you" out there reading) about what I have read and learned and what I think about it.

What I certainly didn't understand back in January is the interaction that comes with blogs. We learn from each other. We learn to care about each other. This, to me, is the greatest advantage to using blogs. I think in particular of Anne Davis' posts on her blog, EduBlog Insights, about her class and students' blogs. She invites the reader to care about her students, to interact with them. There is no way as effective as the blog for doing this. At least none that I know of. How else could I have gotten to know about Patrick and his passion to pass fifth grade? But now, thanks to Anne, I know. And I care. I will be more than disappointed if I never learn whether or not he was successful.

So my definition of a blog now would have to include the word "communication", just as Nathan said in my original post. It would also have to include "caring" and "connection". I am reminded of what Will said awhile back
But the one thing the blog allows me to do that I could not do easily in my classroom before is to link, to connect ideas, to make transparent my thinking about those ideas, and to have others link to them and do the same. I've been down this road before, I know, many times in fact. But it is the essential piece of Weblogs to me: blogs allow me to create content in ways I could not before, not just post what I could create otherwise in a different form

There is still so much to learn!

Better late than never

Well, I finally got Haloscan up and running here. I am anxious to see how useful it will be. I have pinged a few blogs I have referred to, and that went OK. We'll see about the rest.

Some advice for bloggers

I just came across a great post entitled Notes for New Bloggers on a great site called Areté. It provides some really excellent ideas for new - and not so new - bloggers.

Her third point caught my eye:
3. Mine the network. Work your blogroll, link within your posts, and keep up on your comments and trackbacks. Put a site meter on there so you know who’s coming to see you. Your blog will be better, your life will be richer, and your social circle will be wider. Eventually.

That is how I found her post:
First, I went to Barbara Ganley's blog. In a post called "Trackback Recap" (which is about this very thing) she mentions Carla Shafer's blog. In Carla's post Getting the Hang of Blogging, she refers readers to Krista's post, Notes for New Bloggers, which I linked to above.

If I hadn't "worked my blogroll", I would never have found Krista's post because I never would have found the reference to Carla's blog in Barbara's blog.

Now I understand why aggregators are so great!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Becoming human again

Robert Paterson has some extremely insightful comments on life in general and on blogging in particular. Among them we find his description of a blog:
What is a Blog then?

It is also a generative space in which we can give birth to our lost voice. As we find our voice, we begin to wake up. We start to become human again.

How does the Blog awaken us? This open space invites us to speak in public. Hesitantly at first we speak the old way. But now and then the occasional real voice pops out. As it does, others notice and drop by and encourage us. Encouraged we use our real voice more often. More people drop by and encourage us. ...

What a beautiful description of the process! I especially like the part about waking up and becoming human as we blog. This is the aspect of blogging that will help change the world, I think. Writing in any form can do that, but blogs add the interaction which, as Paterson points out, encourages us to continue. Blogging is a very affirming activity.