Scott McLeod has done some interesting graphing of edublog technorati ratings (here and here) and elaborated on his work in his post, “Top edublogs?” Andy Carvin’s post from January 3rd, “Educational Blogging: Avoiding the Usual Suspects Syndrome” sparked a lot of related discussion regarding what he called the “all-star blogger” phenomenon. Some people have expressed hostility toward the entire idea of blog ranking regimes like Technorati. I tend to agree with Scott on this, when he writes at the end of his post:
I unapologetically admit that I care about my Technorati ranking. Why? Because I’m trying to make change. The bigger audience I have, the more readers I reach directly and the more people I can influence indirectly through those readers. I’m on a mission. Aren’t you?
That being said, I think my comments about how I develop blog post topics reveals that my motivation for blogging goes far beyond striving for popularity. Yes, I want to be relevant, but I write for many intrinsic as well as instrumental reasons. I love to write, think, reflect, discuss, listen and read. Hence, the entire blogging “thing” is very natural for me. I would even go so far as to say it is a “flow activity” for me.
Scott’s graphs are cool as well as flattering, and my ClustrMap continues to make me shake my head in disbelief from time to time, but the real bottom line to blogging (for me anyway) remains MAKING CONNECTIONS. The personal comments, feedback and suggestions from my post “The power of reading” last week mean far more to me than graphs and maps. Yes, I’m “on a mission”– I think we all are– but I’m also on a journey, and blogging happens to permit a level of transparency and dialog on that journey that is personally fulfilling as well as intrinsically valuable to my own processing of ideas.
Our universe is incomprehensibly gigantic. Our planet is a huge place too, but our virtual connections are making it smaller every day. To those who do or would decry ranking and indexing schemes for blogs, I will observe that blogging is one of the most egalitarian activities I’ve participated in to date. Whether you choose to use a free blogging tool on a free site, a free tool on a commercial site, or some other combination, the key ingredient is IDEAS. Stephen Downes wrote a lengthy post on the subject of attracting blog readers in 2005 titled, “How To Be Heard.” He included lots of good ideas there. My own list of suggestions is much shorter, but hopefully still helpful. If you want to be (or continue to be) digitally relevant in the edublogosphere as well as the real world of face-to-face living, I recommend you:
- Blog about topics you care about. Don’t be afraid to let your passion show from time to time.
- Include relevant hyperlinks in your posts. This lets others dig deeper into your topic, and reveals your own intertextual connections with your subject as well as other bloggers and thinkers.
- Read and comment on a lot of other people’s blogs. When you comment on someone’s blog, they are likely to visit yours and comment back. This is asynchronous blog-powered dialog. At times disjointed, usually non-linear, but frequently meaningful and worthwhile.
- Be appropriately and sensitively transparent in your blogging, and permit your posts to become a virtual window into your own thinking. What issues are you grappling with, and what do you not understand? Don’t be afraid of taking a position, others will likely bring up contravening points of view if you haven’t considered them. (Or even if you have.) You can always change your mind. Blogging should be about authenticity. The best blogs build trust over time because people are consistently authentic, and share ideas worth thinking about and sometimes acting on.
- Avoid the temptation some have at times to “set yourself on fire” to start a debate. It is better to share a consistent but evolving viewpoint than make the top of digg for a brief, shining moment.
- Write first to change yourself, then to change your world. Jesus was right on the money when he addressed that issue about 2000 years ago.
- Be aware that blogging and blog reading can be addictive. Get plenty of sleep. Talk frequently to your spouse and kids. Live with “digital discipline,” resolving to be intentional in the times you dedicate to blogging and surfing. If you’re spending too much time blogging and surfing (or just about anything else,) consider a fast.
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On this day..
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- OKC #wordpress Users Group Meetup Notes: Jan 2011 #okcwp - 2011
- Fotopedia Heritage for iPad #edapps - 2011
- Martin Institute's Spring Feast Conference in Memphis: 3-4 Feb 2011 #micon - 2011
- Interactive Digital Native Map and the What's Your Issue Videography contest - 2010
- Audio and Video Sync Problem with QuickTime Player 7 YouTube Upload - 2010
- PollEverywhere supports poll grouping - 2010
- Podcast223: Strengthening America's Foundation in STEM Education by Dr. Steven Beering - 2008
- Podcast222: Using Technology for Building Learning Communities by Alan November - 2008
- Podcast221: Balancing Access and Freedom with Safety and Liability Protection - 2008