Just fell through a post, and followed a comment or two that really got me thinking. The first one comes from James Farmer at incorporated subversion.
The point: Blogging is the exercise and development of personal presence, and this simply doesn’t happen on group or team blogs.
I then followed the link that sparked Farmer’s post off, Alan Levine’s “Does Not Blog Well With Others” post. Aside from the great title and intro, this post really is a thinker, and raises some great points that I know I want to consider more.
If I were a student in Blog School, the parental note they send home from my blog teachers might bear the comment, “Alan writes a lot, but he does not blog well with others”.
What I hope to get at by the end of this ramble is how, to me, in my opinion, this is not a universal rule… the power and enticement of blogging is the sense of ownership of a place of your own making. You own it, it is a relfection, sometimes fun house mirror distorted, of yourself. It is what the storytellers refer to as “finding your voice” (and using it). You are an editorial board of one, and the review process is instantaneous.
But as your own place, you have a lot of investment in what is there or a lot of reason to focus your energy there. It is yours and yours alone.” (Levine)
I find myself totally agreeing here. To me, one of the best parts of blogging is that it’s my turf. Noone else can tell me what to think, how to think, where to go with my thinking etc.
It is also, as Levine mentions, is where I’ve started to find my own voice, and where I’m free to polish, redefine, and develop it.
I also enjoyed his ideas around investment. When its yours, you invest with great freedom and generosity because it “feels like home.” (Levine par. 5)
From here I scrolled down to the comments where I really found myself identifying with Graham Wegner’s comments around his own efforts to team blog with a group of teachers.
I would like to repost his comment here, as it really speaks to the whole issue that I would like to address:
Alan, I post at two blogs - my own Teaching Generation Z
and one set up for my colleagues here at my school as we work through an IWB program. I am tending to agree with you because the team blog ActivBoarding which I post to regularly as a way of “trying” to encourage my fellow staff members is dominated by my content but is fairly shallow compared to what I explore on my own piece of webspace. It has been mistaken by other bloggers as being one of “my” blogs but actually I wanted ActivBoarding to be everyone putting in their own bits and pieces on a regular basis so you only had to look in one spot to see what was going on in our school. But the fact that they are not means they don’t have the ownership you’re talking about to be committed or even bothered to do so. And I will always “save” my most pressing / important posts for my own blog so you could argue, my commitment to the team thing is a bit superficial as well. Yet a part of me still wants to keep it going! Very though provoking.
The part that really got to me was
“I am tending to agree with you because the team blog ActivBoarding which I post to regularly as a way of “trying” to encourage my fellow staff members is dominated by my content but is fairly shallow compared to what I explore on my own piece of webspace.”
Ouch. I’m in the same boat. Where I work, we’ve set up a “team blog” as a space for our teaching staff to reflect on sessions in our professional development program.
Our teachers have been contributing, but only after much “encouragement” and “whip cracking.”
To their credit, the ones who do participate often create well thought out posts…but they are totally lacking in personality…ownership…authenticity, VOICE!
Their posts answer our PD questions, but in most cases the conversation is lost. This group blog space seems to have downgraded into “take in and vomit out.”
There is a great lack of deepness, of exploration and connecting to rest of the blogsphere. They simply answer their “homework” question and that’s it. Next post is when there is more homework to do.
That realization makes me feel…uncomfortable. I have a sneaky feeling that there may be no rescue for my team blog. Afterall, is blogging when you get a bunch of people to use blogging software? Don’t think so.
Is professional reflection working if you have to chase down and cajole the participants?
My whole point behind the group blog was to have a way to connect our teachers. We are usually scattered about the city teaching English classes. Connecting really happens on paydays when everyone comes in for money. But that’s payday! Our brains aren’t in professional development mode, they’re in “show me the money” mode. So PD talking and reflecting is not an option on these days.
So I thought….team blog. A great way for everyone to stay in touch with everyone else, and jointly explore and talk about what we’ve been covering in our PD sessions.
Sounds great on paper, but I’ve been struggling with getting past the “take off” phase since July of this year.
Just doesn’t seem to be working. It’s not really deep. There isn’t room for voice, at least not yet, and our so called “conversation” has turned into tacking comments onto “question” posts.
This is a weird post, and I do apologize. But more and more I’m starting to agree with Farmer, Levine, and Wegner. Group blogs likely don’t work too well.
I guess I’ve just invited myself to haul out the old drawing board and rethink all this.
I eagerly give you the floor…