Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Feeding the blogs

Three Hungry Baby Barn Swallows by mclcbooks, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by mclcbooks

The first of April is the one day of the year where most people have a high level of source criticism. You really have to check your sources and question everything. Most of the jokes are easy to spot but one that nearly caught me out was Steve Wheeler's farewell to blogging, Goodbye. Steve is one of the most prolific and most read edtech bloggers and the idea of him quitting blogging is rather hard to swallow. However he made a very convincing case; describing how blogging was affecting his private life and causing such stress that he could no longer justify it. I was actually just about to tweet the link with a sympathetic comment when I stopped and realised what day it was and that the post did contain some rather odd references to things like telepathy as an alternative to blogging. Normal service was resumed with a new post from Steve today (Seriously, 2 April) where the advantages of blogging far outweigh the disadvantages. The 1 April post was not so much a joke as an attempt to provoke a discussion about the role of the academic blogger.

The original post did resonate with me however. My blogs are not in the same league as Steve's in terms of readership but they do exert considerable pressure on my home life. Once you've built up a readership and set your own pace of how often you publish it is very hard to break the routine. I have built up a whole ecosystem around monitoring what's going on in the field of e-learning and then writing about it on blogs, in articles and various websites. For several years I've been keeping my hungry blogs well-fed and satisfied with this blog getting one or two posts a week and my Swedish news blog, Flexspan, getting 4-7 posts a week. Based on that I have a newsletter (in Swedish) that goes out every Monday with highlights from the week. Completely away from work I even have a third blog, about beekeeping, that demands regular postings. Hungry mouths indeed!

Once you get into that level of production it's mighty hard to break the habit and if you do, you get messages from people wondering if something is wrong. So I recognize the pressure Steve wrote about and the potential for stress that comes from setting a high level of production. Strange isn't it that if I had a boss who demanded this I would probably complain but I've created this all by myself and completely outside working hours. At the same time I realize that my blogs and other social media activities have completely changed my work. By sharing my thoughts and helping to spread others' good ideas I have built up a global network of colleagues who have invited my into interesting projects which have resulted in being invited to speak at conferences and join even more projects. I've visited places I could never have imagined visiting as part of my work and it keeps on developing. For me blogging has opened up a whole new world and even if I find it a strain now and then to think of what to write or to keep to my production schedule it's been well worth the effort.


  1. At least Steve fooled me! And I do not appreciate those kinds of jokes. Jokes can be witty and humorous but I don't think it is appropriate to make those kinds of jokes that Steve did.

  2. It was probably too convincing to be simply an April fools' joke. There are cases of people quitting blogging or other public activities for just these reasons.