It’s about time I joined in the conversation about blogging. A colleague has called me out. And yes, I have a contribution. This isn’t the first time I’ve put thoughts down on this topic over this month. I’ve been scribbling almost daily. Only now I think I can put them in some kind of order to be understood (hopefully). While I’m supposed to be doing other work, this topic is all I can think about right now. My thoughts have bubbled to the surface and have no where else to go but out. Now, do you have a cuppa? Good. Me too.
We have heard from a number of ‘nodes’ on the topic of blogging this #blogjune. Much of what I’ve read I agree with. And those who have given their thoughts and ideas to this conversation, I thank you. I can’t and won’t attempt to respond to each of your posts. Con has, however brought together a bit of a list. What I can do here is bring my perspective and thoughts.
I’ll start with my own experience and the journey so far. Ive been in this profession for five years. I know, it feels a lot longer. And when I started blogging, I guess you could say I joined the party a little late as it was 2010/2011 and the beginning of what has been described as the downturn of the blogging ‘golden age’. At this time, my experience was much like Kate described. I felt welcomed. I wrote posts and commented on others. I read a lot of blogs and looked up to a number in the library blogging arena. I felt safe. Keeping up to date with what was happening was overwhelming as a library student, but oh so exciting! Blogs and the conversation on Twitter that ensued fuelled my beginning passion for this profession. I turned to who I saw as leaders on their blogs and sometimes without getting in contact or conversing, I also saw them as mentors but they probably didn’t know it.
Fast forward a few years and I blogged less and less. I’ll be honest, I’ve only really been blogging about ‘safe’ topics and topics I felt I knew and had confidence writing about. This, I realise now, has defeated the purpose I had for this blog back in 2011. A learning and connecting tool. I put together a list of ‘must follow’ blogs for students this semester and I really struggled. Where did we all go? I started to panic that I was the loner kid who wasn’t told the party had moved on somewhere else. Truth be told, there are two reasons (not the only ones though) why I haven’t ventured into unchartered waters with blogging of late.
1. There has been limited content to respond to. Cue Lionel Richie “Hello? ….is it me you’re looking for?”
2. I have this perception that people are now just too busy and have no time anymore (which might be partially true).
These two reasons though, have had an impact on my confidence with blogging and putting my thoughts out there. Because really, where’s the incentive to contribute if people won’t even make virtual eye contact with you? And this is where not using the spaces available for conversation can and may well be detrimental to our future professional conversation and knowledge.
It’s not just me who isn’t blogging (as often). And it’s not just senior members of our professional community and leaders. I don’t see many of my peers blogging. People who I’ve ‘grown up’ with and have been in the profession for about the same time. This worries me.
There appears to be, at least to me, a disconnect in a ‘changing of the guard’. We don’t have a conversation issue in our community. We have a leadership or a succession issue. It’s not just the workplace where we risk losing knowledge when people wind down to retirement. It’s in the professional conversation too. I call to others at a similar career stage to step up. Share the cool and exciting stuff you’re doing. We can’t leave the conversation to a few. For knowledge to grow, we need diversity. Momentum must keep going. It’s time to step into ‘big girl/boy shoes’ and start owning what we think, contribute and do. It’s time to start growing into leadership roles in professional conversation and discourse. But we also need our leaders to stick around to nurture the transition.
This is no time for libraries and library and information professionals to be passive and accepting of what is given. We must have active participants.
How do we do this? How do we get over our imposter syndrome and just hit publish?
Think of blogging as an ‘out of session’ conversation at a conference. You walk up to people who you may have seen around previously, or you recognise their Twitter handle on their name badge. You introduce yourself and say ‘Hey, how was that last presentation? It got me thinking about…’ And so the conversation starts. You might suggest a solution to a problem. Or have an idea about how to implement something. This happens as naturally as heading back to the buffer for a second helping of lunch. What we don’t notice is that we’re sharing our thoughts and ideas as ‘half baked’. We haven’t thought it all through before approaching the person. We bounce off one another. An idea is built upon, developed and massaged until you walk away to the next session with a much better idea that what you started with. I believe this can happen with blogging. Blog posts need to be allowed to be ‘half baked’ if we’re to keep up momentum (and knowledge growth). We need to, in the words of John Farhnam ‘take the pressure down’ (do-do….do-do, “cause I can feel it, it’s rising like a storm”…oh please Lord, let them be the right words).
Where do we do this?
I agree, a lot of conversation happens on Twitter. As long as I’ve been around, always has been. But with the absence of blogs and blogging, I have a tendency to miss conversations. My work breaks don’t seem to line up or don’t have a Twitter conversation radar that beeps at me like a car reversing camera. So I and perhaps others, miss out on these conversations. We miss out on the opportunity to learn and share. Blog posts are better than Twitter at sticking around. We can dip into them when we can. So I think we owe it to our ideas to blog. I think blogs should be here to stay for a while longer at least.
This discussion had to happen. I’m glad it did. Because now we can move forward. I have loved #blogjune conversations this year. But it isn’t enough. Let’s keep the conversation going. If we make time for #blogjune, what’s stopping us from blogging throughout the year? I’m not advocating for daily blogging. Holy crap, no. But a thought or an idea fleshed out and reflected upon won’t hurt us.
The idea of a collaborate blog is a good one. Perhaps we can build on that idea. What about a website for a community of bloggers? May be much the same thing in practice, but I’m thinking about concept. A space for a cheer squad for professional conversation in this space.
We could also have moderated Twitter chats at various times each month. This way, those who wish to participate can put the dates and times in the diary.
What I want to focus on is the future. Where are our spaces? Where do students and new graduates see professional conversation when they ‘grow up’? All I can say now is, let’s do this. Let’s rock it. Let’s find a way and just do it.