I was a kid that always wrote in her diary. Every night, before bed, I would open my diary, write Dear Diary, and then proceed to tell this un-judgmental friend all that I had thought throughout the day. I distinctly remember being in high school and a friend telling me that she started keeping her journal (of course her journal! We were too old and too cool to keep diaries anymore! They were journals!) on her computer. I thought that was cool, but there were two issues:
- I didn't have a computer.
- I liked lying in bed as I wrote and getting everything that was circling my brain out of there before going to sleep. A computer seemed to defeat that purpose.
Fast-forward an unspecified number of years and we are now at a point in time when blogging has become mainstream. I always thought that journaling and blogging were the same thing. But instead of people confining their inner-most thoughts to a private paper journal that would be hidden away from the eyes of even the closest bosom-buddies, it would be posted for the world to see - friend, foe, and, unknown. Not so, according to Will Richardson. In his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (2010), Richardson purports that true blogs engage others in "a process of thinking in words," not just that daily reckoning that occurred in my old-school diary.
SO it turns out that I was wrong. Apparently, I was supposed to blog as a way of reflecting upon my learning (both educational and life), and helping others to do the same. I was then supposed to go and read the blogs of other people (friend, foe, and unknown) AND comment on them so that they would know that I was reading them. This is baffling information for someone who got used to hiding her diary from her younger brother.
Luckily, I actually realized my misconception regarding blogs long ago. I began reading and even commenting on several (friend and unknown - no foes) about 8 years ago. Some are personal, some are professional, and others are a casual mix of both. But they all share certain commonalities. While generally being professional in writing and editing, they are casual and informal in speech. In this aspect, they are similar to a diary. Even though the author has never actually met most of the readers, the tone is similar to that of a close friend at best, a casual acquaintance at worst. In addition, due to the interactive nature of a blog, the author tends to invite comment, even explicitly posting questions to which (s)he wants readers to respond. As such, when readers see these questions, instead of thinking of them as rhetorical questions, the readers respond, and invite further comment. This is what Richardson means when he says that, "Blogs engage readers with ideas and questions and links. They ask readers to think and to respond. They demand interaction."
Finally, in the true spirit of a blog, I leave you with two questions:
- Think back. Waaay back. When you first heard the word blog, what definition did you create and how did it differ from Richardson's definition?
- What are your favorite blogs? Do you keep one? Why or why not?
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. (3rd ed.) [Kindle]. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.