First, let me just say that the recent discussion here regarding the types of writing we do in blogs just reminds me of how potentially powerful this tool can be. It’s one of the big reasons that I do this: I learn from it. When people are moved enough by an idea to compose the types of responses reflected in that thread, it’s pretty inspiring, and I get my own thinking pushed and stretched. Even in cases where people pretty much tell me I’m out to lunch.
Will, you stated: “Blogging is read, think, write (and link) and read some more.” and later expanded this to say “I would add, also, that while it’s implied, I should probably have been more clear that it all starts with reading. We’re writing about what we’ve read, and that’s a crucial difference.”
Where does blogging about practice, experimentation, or real-life observation come into this equation? To be a true Blogger must the intital impetus for writing begin with the written word? My experience is that today’s kids get very excited about what old librarians might call “primary source” information – artifacts, surveys, experiments, interviews…
If we can allow that true bloggers can use personal experiences as the genesis of their writings, it seems to me that kids who write about personal experiences may well be blogging – just about their own lives rather than things of what we might call “academic interest.”
He brings up other great points about the types of personal writing that occurs on blogs, writing that I do here as well. It’s a great articulation of why my own stubborn definition of blogging doesn’t hold water. That, coupled with the other posts in the thread, and heated conversations I’ve had with a colleague at work and with Alan November (who I have the good fortune of teaching at Seton Hall with this weekend) have moved me to rethink my approach to this.
In all of this, my attempt has not been to disparage the many genres of writing that occur in blogs or to disparage the kids (and specifically girls) who use them. I love the fact that kids are using blogs to write, period. The fact that so many kids have been moved to practice the act of putting words together to communicate is a good thing. That many feel empowered to write about meaningful and sometimes troubling issues in their lives is a good thing, as long as they do it safely and with respect to others. The fact that teens find community in the use of these tools is a great thing, regardless of the form of their writing.
What I have been trying to celebrate, however, is what I see as an opportunity for a new type of writing that blogs allow, one that forces those who do it to read carefully and critically, one that demands clarity and cogency in its construction, one that is done for wide audience, and one that links to the sources of the ideas expressed. For all those reasons, it’s also one that I think we should add to our curricula. Clearly, I have been wrong in attempting to call that blogging, which I realize now is a much, much more inclusive term. So I’ve been trying to come up with another name for it. Not easy.
But since this is an outgrowth of George Seimens’ thinking about Connectivism, and since a search of the term didn’t bring back anything that seemed to indicate the term has a defined space already, I’m going to start calling it “Connective Writing.” I’ll spend some time clarifying what my definition of it would be, but I want to stress (and ask for more push back if it’s out there) that I’m talking about something uniquely suited to blogs. I’m talking about this post, about our ability to connect ideas in ways that we could not do with paper, to distribute them in ways we could not do with the restrictiveness of html, and to engage in conversations and community in ways we could not do with newsgroups or other online communities before.
Once again, this all goes back to my experience, to what happens most often when I use this space to write and reflect. It’s been a powerful experience for me, and I want my students to be exposed to its potential.