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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Why I blog and the perils of perfection paralysis

I really needed a break. When I first started blogging, I wondered why Stephen Downes took a three week sabbatical. Now, I understand. It is so important to keep it all in perspective.

For me, it is important to understand WHY I blog. I do not blog to be important nor "famous." For truly, even those in the edublogosphere who count themselves "famous" aren't known to the "outside" world. I mean, come on, get over ourselves, folks. Most people count us as "nuts" or "geeks" or whatever.

We have something to do and it is not about us.

So, then, why do I blog?

No, I'm not some perfectly noble, wise, all knowing being. I'm a human being and goodness knows I have my share of flaws. Many of these reasons have evolved but they are my reasons. We all have reasons.

1) To create an archivable, searchable record for myself

I have journaled since age 8 and have a ton of books. I usually would write 15-30 minutes a day. I literally have 200 pages of poems that I've written since age 8. Ultimately, this is one reason WHY I started blogging.

2) Experience is the greatest teacher

Part of the courses I took at Georgia Tech taught me to recognize trends. We are moving towards a digitized society and although paper in some form will be a part of it, most likely the paper will evolve to be digital itself.

In our society of dwindling resources, it doesn't make sense to keep wasting paper that is just tossed and nonarchivable. There will be a place for tree-produced paper just as there is a place for the stone tablets which were its predecessor. This is the evolution of human communications and those who will back up and take the view from the 10,000 foot level will see that.

There are only two types of people as it relates to change: victims and victors. Those who are supplanted and replaced by change and wring their hands as they bemoan the loss of what they knew... and those who profit and enjoy the wealth creation and opportunity creation that comes from being part of change.

I want my students (and children) to be the winners. I want them to function effectively in a global society. I want to be the visionary that teaches these things that will be part of their lives. If I take the 10 year view, what are the things I can teach them that will be the pivot point of their lives? For this reason, effective blogging, mass collaboration using wikis, and the digital citizenship skills that accompany those things top my list.

So, realizing this after meeting David Warlick in November 2005, I decided to blog. If I was to teach it safely and effectively, I must do it. Period.

My new reasons...

That was why I started blogging and still top my reasoning. Why do I continue?

3) The importance of voice
I believe that it is important for teachers from many walks of life who have the FREEDOM to blog to do so. We are not a homogeneous group of people and have a lot to learn from one another.

As the readership of my own blog has grown, I take blogging very seriously and want to make sure that I am wise and professional about what I post. It is important to do good and serve one's profession well. I believe that teaching is a noble calling.

4) The power of encouragement
I also have a lifelong dream of writing to inspire people to be encouraged. I feel so alone and like an island and there are so many "fussy" people out there who just really are discouraging.

I want to be to you what I need for me: an encourager. Why is it worth it? Why do we keep teaching when we get so much grief and are so worn out at the end of the day? How do we stay excited when we're tired?

That is why I love to post on the blogs of those who are just starting. Someone did it for me...

5) The power of being a part of it
Although lists of "great" bloggers are nice, it is important to remember that every edublogger has a voice. We are part of a network and group of people expressing our opinions and sometimes creating a chorus to promote change. Each person is important.

6) A passion
Teaching and effective use of my technology is my passion... so is writing. Most of us who blog do it to make a difference and because we are truly passionate about what we're doing. I blog because that is who I am now... it is an irreversible part of Vicki Davis and I cannot help it.

I do not blog because I see it as an avenue to "leave the classroom" and become a circuit speaker... I've traveled the country before and am happy with my 2-3 conferences a semester. I have a family to attend to after all. I do blog because I also want to write books and aspire to be a great author who makes a difference in this world and I'll be up front with you about that. Blogging helps me craft and learn what works and what doesn't. I'm gradually becoming a better writer, I think. Still need to work on being more succinct! ;-)

Perfection Paralysis
I must admit that I've been suffering from a bit of perfection paralysis in the past week. I see so many things to write and as I've read several books on good technical writing over break, I see so much more that I need to be. I fall so short of things.

But in the blogging world, sometimes a short paragraph gets more readership and means more than a full blown essay. I was so excited about Little Freddie's Two Faced Future... it took 20 hours to write or more... and blam... not even a ripple. Maybe it was too long for a blog... probably so. But I'm still glad I wrote it.

So, I'm going to start blogging again and try to get over the fact that blogging can often be an imperfect thing.... despite the fact that sometimes I am not sure if I'm just writing for myself.. and remember that even if I were writing for myself that I would still do it.

I cannot blog it all... I cannot be a one woman newspaper or magazine nor do I want to be. I can be a drop into a growing pond of communication about what works and what needs to be done in education and as long as I keep that in perspective then I'm fine.

The Challenges of being "out"

The other tough thing is that my life is so busy that I'm never "in the know" on "what is happening" in the blogosphere. I don't have the time to check twitter but probably once a day. I check my reader quickly several times a week and I talk on Wow2, however, as I have spent most of my life "out," I remain "out."

I could let this bother me, however, this is my life. I am a testament to the fact that you can blog and still be behind on your RSS, not checking twitter as regularly as you could, and holding down a huge schedule (6 classes), and manage a busy household (3 kids, husband).

You don't have to be perfect or "in the know" to be part of the blogosphere.

You just need to be you, blogging, sharing, reflecting, and communicating.

Best wishes, my friends, for a great 2008. I'm trying to make myself come "back" and get over this perfectionism!!!

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