Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Blogging histories

I was interested to hear Will Richardson discuss the number of blog posts he’s written and comments he’s received since he began blogging years ago, in his NECC preso “From Hand It In to Publish It: Re-Envisioning Our Classrooms.” Since I upgraded my WordPress blog engine to version 2.2 yesterday and can now use WordPress Widgets, I have added a couple of new features to the right sidebar of my blog which are often found on other blogs but haven’t been on mine. The first is the “archives” popup menu, which shows each month I’ve been blogging and how many posts I’ve made each month. At the request of my mom, who was visiting for the holiday yesterday and was helping me find a suitable new blog template, I also added the calendar feature. Personally I don’t use the calendar feature at all on others’ blogs, but she does and has found it helpful. (So that one’s for you, AHF!)I think the “archives” popup menu is more interesting in terms of looking at blogging activity and patterns, and it is also a new feature for my blog. From that popup menu, you can see that I started blogging in July of 2003. I actually started blogging using iBlog, a 3rd party blogging application. As a client-side blogging application using ftp, I eventually found iBlog to be less flexible and more cumbersome than using a server-based blogging solution like WordPress. I love the fact that my blog literally “lives out there” on the web and is not entirely stored on a local hard drive, which could crash, be stolen, or be otherwise inaccessible. I also like the fact that a server-based blog lends itself well to a team blog, or in my case “guest bloggers” who can blog when I’m offline / out of pocket. Once I discovered WordPress, resolved to use it, decided on a blog name and domain name and secured that web address, I figured out how to export all my “old” iBlog posts and import them into WordPress. So, I have been blogging since July 2003, but I haven’t been using WordPress that long. I’m actually not sure when I made that transition, but I think it was a couple of years ago.Using the newly available “archives” right sidebar popup menu, you can see that in July and August of 2005 my blog post frequency really started to take off. I’m pretty sure that is due, in part, to the fact that I transitioned to the WordPress blogging platform as well as Ecto. So, I am probably about to celebrate my 2 year anniversary as a WordPress user and blogger. 🙂 If you look at my blog posts prior to that time, which were made with iBlog, you’ll notice some formatting and code errors that I haven’t ever gone back and fixed. These were some coding syntax differences between iBlog and WordPress, or may have been related to some export/import syntax errors when I moved blog posts between the two platforms. I wish I had just imported the simple text of my blog posts from iBlog and skipped all the special formatting, but unfortunately that was either not possible at the time or not something I was able (or willing) to figure out how to do.At NECC 2007, I noticed that I wrote my 2000th post. (It was on June 25th and titled, “Schools are no longer the knowledge gatekeepers.”) I certainly don’t think that the QUANTITY of blog posts a person shares is nearly as important as the QUALITY of those posts. One of the consistent questions I am often asked when I meet readers of my blog in person is, “How do you manage to write so much?” That answer has multiple elements to be sure: Part of it is that I use WordPress and a speedy offline blogging tool. Another element is that I have tended to do a lot of writing late at night. But the most significant element of that answer is that blogging has become an essential part of how I learn and process my world. When I realized last night that Ecto might not work any longer with WordPress, it was sort of like someone told me I wouldn’t be able to speak anymore or write with a pencil or pen any longer. Blogging has become thoroughly embedded in my personal learning culture, and that has clearly been a gradual process. I find it interesting to have some personal insight into that process (a “flashback” to the past) thanks to the new availability of the “archives” popup menu on my blog.As learners, we are all in different places. I think it is important for us not to expect all teachers (or all the people in any other specific group, including students) to want to learn in the same way. I think it is very important and valuable to introduce others to the concept and availability of web feeds, but it is not reasonable (or desirable) to expect everyone to want or be comfortable utilizing web feeds in the same ways.In formal educational settings, we are traditionally uncomfortable with differentiated pathways to learning. Instead, it is common to suggest (or insist) there is ONE way to learn something, ONE way to demonstrate competence, and ONE way to teach an idea. This belief in “single pathways for learning” is more often harmful rather than helpful. The fact that I enjoy blogging as well as accessing / consuming content and ideas via various web feeds and applications does not mean I expect others to do the same. I do think, however, we need to let more people know about the availability and benefits of these information streams and invite them to utilize them for their own personal and professional growth / development.I perceive most teachers remain “email” people when it comes to information exchange and consumption. (That’s why I have a prominent link on my blog header now, for “Email Updates!” That fact should not deter us, however, from finding conversational entry points to help more teachers learn about web feeds, podcasts, blog aggregators, podcatching software, etc.Future information flows are going to continue to move in channels which allow subscription and unsubscription, I think. Spam reportedly accounts for approximately 90% of all email sent and received currently. Is that trend going to reverse? I’m not optimistic it will. That’s why I’m willing to bet on the value of accessing and utilizing web feeds to both consume and create content from and with the world.I am SO appreciative of the development team for WordPress. What a phenenomal tool, and what a priceless gift to share with idea consumers and creators all over the world!







4 responses to “Blogging histories”

  1. Dean Mattson Avatar

    Thanks to your influence, I’ve just started a blog. Reading this post reminded me of a frustration I’m having with WordPress: It will wipe away all your paragraph breaks! I hope it can be made to work better before I try to use it with my students!

  2. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Dean: I’m so glad to hear you’ve started a blog! Whether or not you stick with it, I’m sure you’ll learn a great deal from the activity, and you just might get hooked! 🙂

  3. Jeff Yearout Avatar

    Thanks for all you do and write! I’ve renamed my blog to hopefully reflect a wider possibility of topics as well as more frequent posting, though my last one is still from February. I’m getting ready to take a new job, and I hope to document thoughts and ideas from those experiences as well as whatever else strikes me as relevant, important, interesting, or discussion worthy. But I realize from one of your statements here that part of the reason for doing a blog isn’t necessarily in hopes of response from others, though that is always welcome.

    I agree that blogging can become a way to process – I guess kind of a thinking out loud online. I truly think (and hope) we are in the beginning stages of, dare I say, revolutionary ways of doing things in education, and we need to discuss and debate and agree and disagree as we COLLABORATIVELY make our way through the ever emerging, constantly changing digital world. Like the acronym I’ve seen on sports team shirts:


  4. James Sigler Avatar


    I love the new look of you r blog. I have been following your blog and podcasts for about a year. This summer I am time- and place-shifting your archived podcasts. I have downloaded all your podcasts from the beginning and am listening to them while I work outside in the yard and in the garden during summer vacation. I have learned the definition of disruptive technology and that Alexander made your podcast music when was in 2nd grade (how cool it that!) Now I can get all kinds of professional development while mow the lawn and battle weeds in the garden. Thanks for your inspiring insights!