Saturday, October 20, 2007

Victim of Sucess, or Meta (to the power of x) Blogging

Kathleen had a post a couple of days ago that resonated with me. I, too, have been thinking about what blogging here is doing for me. Like Kathleen, I do think it's still important to me, but currently misguided. She says this of her own blogging:
When I started, it was all about a need for immediate communication: I
had all these small thoughts leftover from having just completed the
book manuscript, and needed to get myself back into active conversation
with other scholars after the isolation of grinding through such a long
project. Lately, however, it seems like what I’ve been communicating
has devolved into little more than rants and P.R., either complaining
about being too busy or announcing the results of what I’ve been busy
doing. And this dynamic doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore.
I, too, started blogging because I felt isolated. I craved connection to the more scholarly side of my academic world, a connection that was missing in my interactions with people at my institution where I was viewed primarily as "the help." I found that connection and more. From a personal perspective, I've met many, many wonderful people, some of whom I've had the great pleasure to meet in person. They've added a richness to my life that I never expected. From a professional standpoint, this blog has done more for me than I ever could have imagined. It lead to a renewed interest in writing pedagogy which lead to a dissertation and Ph.D. I've done numerous presentations and talks, written articles, and have been consulted for advice at many institutions. Among some people, I'm actually considered an expert on social software. That boggles my mind and humbles me, since I am connected to and know so many people, primarily through this blog, who know so much more and do so much more to forward scholarship in this area.

Like Kathleen, I've watched my readership first plateau and then start to decline. Blogging never was completely about the audience, but it always was a little about the audience. At the very least, it's a good indicator that your writing is losing its appeal. What Kathleen said about making her blogging serve a bigger project, about the need "to make the blog part of the process, rather than something that’s working against the work I need to do" really struck home with me. As the school year started, I had been thinking about this, about trying to focus the blog a little more, to use it as a space to think about what I've read, to try to make connections between ideas. Basically, I want to step it up a notch. I really think I can do that and still keep within the general parameters of the blog. After all, I still think of this blog as a place to put stuff that has no other place, but I think I want that stuff to be a little more thoughtful and I want some of that stuff to have the potential to develop into bigger and better stuff. After all, that's how I gained my original success. I expanded on what I'd done here. At some point, I quit expanding and thinking expansively and just went through the motions. The thing is, having just come off of writing two articles about blogging, I still love blogging and social networking and whatever else this crazy Internet is going to throw at us in the future. I'm not tired of it yet. I still have more to say and much, much more to read and think about. So watch this space. It could get interesting around here.