Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

The egalitarian nature of blogging

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.

NGC 602 and Beyond

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:

  1. Blog about topics you care about. Don’t be afraid to let your passion show from time to time.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 🙂
  7. 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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8 responses to “The egalitarian nature of blogging”

  1. David Truss Avatar

    If nothing else, Scott McLeod has provided many of us with a great resource.
    It is very useful to have a list of top edubloggers to peruse- there are a number on his list that I did not know about. I spend enough (ok too much) time on the web… why not have a list that shows us what thousands of people find useful in the world of educational blogs.
    Thanks to him for making the list, and to you for pointing me towards it!

  2. Christy Tucker Avatar

    Thanks for the good tips and the thoughtful post. I’m a newbie–blogging for a whole month now–and I feel like I’m still trying to find my own voice in these conversations. Your post on how you choose blog topics was helpful too. I appreciated seeing someone else break down that process and provide insight on how you get to this end product. Keep sharing!

  3. andy carvin Avatar

    Fascinating stuff. I have love-hate relationship with Technorati; I use it constantly, but it’s still far from perfect. Even though I’m happy with the ranking of my personal blog (which seems to fluctuate from ranked 4000 to 7500 on a weekly basis), I know it’s still flawed information, since some of those hits in technorati are coming from spam blogs (splogs) and not real people. In other cases, people link to my old url,, and that takes away from the numbers included in my ranking. I also discovered a few months ago that technorati had been ignoring for a long time because it was treating the damn .now in the name as a top-level domain name and was getting confused by it, so it wasn’t showing any results. It appears to be fixed, but I still don’t trust how it’s ranking it, either up or down. At least I can take solace from the fact that the other site I work on,, is ranked 6th. 🙂

    Meanwhile, does anyone use to track their sites? They offer a lot more metrics, but they’re totally out of sync with Technorati. For example, my blog was ranked in the top 500 for a while, then down into the 3000 range, then in the top 300, then in the 5000 range. It seems what they do is try to filter out blogs of less consequence, as it were, and measure the number of “authoritative” blogs linking to you.

  4. Scott Elias Avatar

    Great post, Wesley. As I continue to get invested in edublogging, I am finding posts like this more and more useful. At this point, caring about a Technorati ranking would be counterproductive to what I feel I’m trying to accomplish. I’m still writing mainly for myself and to continue to filter and process all the inspiring content that lives out there in the blogosphere.

    I’m trying to follow the sage wisdom I recall from my youth and apply it to the digital age: God gave us two eyes and two ears but only one mouth. So in theory, I should be reading and listening at least twice as much as I’m saying. But if I’m “saying” by typing, I’m trying to reconcile the fact that I have two hands and TEN fingers for typing… 🙂

  5. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Andy, I have looked at blogpulse and considered using it, but have not yet. The feature of being able to do a custom search and then click on the peaks of the graph is certainly innovative. I agree it seems to be missing a LOT of conversations, however, which Technorati picks up.

    Scott, the ideal of listening more than we talk is definitely a good one. It is hard to measure the relative quantities of reading and writing when scanning posts and articles on the web, and I agree the logic of numbers falls down when we get to fingers…. Still, it’s a good reminder to me to make sure I’m focusing on listening every day and not just “talking” in either F2F or virtual spaces!

  6. Kate Fahey Avatar

    Those are some great guidelines. I have found personal blogging to be incredibly rewarding, however, expanding that to my professional life is a challenge. I think I make the assumption that my style of writing must be scholarly in nature, which is very difficult for me. Your rules reminded me to let passion guide my entries. Thank you!