Blogs and finding serenity (now)

January 31, 2007

In my first posting and my one month anniversary posting, I discuss my initial apprehensions about blogging and my experiences as a blogger respectively. My blog has not reached its second month, and I have not figured out if I have any new insights about it. However, a Chronicle Careers article by Kara Dawson discusses her experience with requiring students to maintain blogs in her classes.

As we all know, blogs have become an established part of the “Web 2.0” world. One would imagine that they make good teaching tools, and that “the kids” would want to get in on the trend with blogs of their own. However, at least in Dawson’s case, the use of blogs in two of her classes did not work as she had hoped. She believes that “blog overload” affected everyone involved. Students submitted rather dull material (usually at the last minute), and the few who have continued their blogs beyond the class write for people they already know. Nevertheless, Dawson still sees potential for blogs, and she outlines a few strategies to make their usage in the classroom more effective.

I think many people feel obliged to start a blog to show that they can “keep up.” As I outline in my very first posting, I decided not to start a blog for precisely that reason. Certainly on a regular basis, I felt that I would have little of interest to contribute to the discourse surrounding librarianship, higher education, and technology. Furthermore, the prospect of learning a new tool for communication seemed intimidating. The faddish aura surrounding blogs also made me cringe, and many of the ones I encountered seemed like little more than glorified hybrids of websites and diaries.

Actually, the hype surrounding blogs makes me think of the Serenity Now episode from Seinfeld, where George’s father starts a computer business because he saw “a provocative movie on cable TV… called The Net.” A new technology may have “provocative” implications, but simply deciding to do something with it to stay “up on things” can have disastrous consequences.

Do not start a blog because it’s a “big thing” right now, or you heard something “provocative” about blogs. You should start one if you like to write, think, and share your ideas on a regular (or semi-regular) basis with a broader audience. As one who likes to write, and who has no “official” publications to my credit, I probably should have started a blog long ago. To the rest of you who do not like writing regularly, think about what you would really like to do first, and then figure out which tool(s) would better suit your needs. Otherwise, you might end up like Frank Costanza, searching for that elusive serenity… now!

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