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A website is not a blog (and neither is a journal)

On Friday, I started putting together my weekly round up of article summaries and analysis. This project began in November of last year, as a way to separate my more erudite posts from my regular ramblings on my blog, Reading by Example. This site would also give me a more appropriate platform to promote my formal work. About halfway through the summary writing process, I stopped and asked myself, “Am I enjoying this?” The answer: Not exactly. 6454543031_ea9e13068c

 photo credit: bis zur antwort via photopin (license)

I do like reading widely and responding to what I have read. It has been an effective method of forcing me to read the many journals that sit on my desk at school and home. Also, I believe the process of reading, summarizing, and reflecting has helped me improve as a writer. However, this process was not serving readers. When I stopped in April to work on my upcoming book, I took a look at the statistics. Views had dropped from November on with each subsequent post. I gained perspective by creating distance between this site and my life. Something to consider as you assess your own level of connectedness.

So that is the thing about blogging. It’s not a listserv, like an RSS feed or SmartBrief, where readers come to expect a regular issue of relevant articles and resources. Blogs are more personal. They have a voice behind them, hopefully a powerful and passionate one. If the writer has a fairly specific focus, they usually speak to you. For example, my blog Reading by Example is focused primarily on three things: Literacy, technology, and leadership. Readers and subscribers come to expect posts that relate in someway to one or more of these areas.

On the other end of the spectrum, blogs are not daily journals or diaries. I don’t post highly personal reflections. My belief is these issues are best kept private. As a blogger, you have an audience. It is not about just you. You can and should be personal in the writing. But if all it amounts to is regular rants that have little relevance for others, then what we share has little chance of making a difference in the lives of others. So why post it online? I have seen fairly prolific bloggers lose sight of this. My theory is they become so involved in the outward experience of writing online, that they feel this need to up the ante on behalf of viewership and publicly share information that is best left private. Just my opinion.

Blogging in education is somewhere in the middle between journaling and publishing, probably a little closer to the journaling side of things. It is an inward and reflective experience to write about what’s on our minds professionally. What pulls the craft of blogging toward the publishing end is your audience. That is why the best blogs are the best: The bloggers consider both audience and purpose as they write. They understand that their site doesn’t live unless someone else reads and responds to what they have to share. At the same time, these bloggers understand why they have regular readers in the first place.

Now back to my original purpose for writing this post. Through this experiment in distance, I have realized that this site is better served as a contact page for me as an educator and professional. Promoting my work here means I can find separation from my ongoing reflections at Reading by Example. Presentation materials and more formal writings will be shared on this site. I plan on continuing to periodically summarize and reflect on what I read on my blog. Sign up to receive a notification anytime I post something. I will do my best to make it meaningful for both you and me.

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8 thoughts on “A website is not a blog (and neither is a journal)”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Matt. I know I haven’t read and responded as frequently of late. It has had nothing to do with your posts, but all to do with my time. I look forward to receiving further updates. You always consider your audience in your writing and I value what you have to say.

    1. No worries Norah. The decision had more to do with my own learning. Normally, a blog gains steam as a person posts. The opposite was happening here. I appreciate your readership.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this post garnered more comments that could lead to discussions than any of my previous posts. It again goes back to author’s voice and audience, which is the essence of blogging as a form of writing.

      1. It’s interesting that this post received more comments than others. A post I wrote recently questioning the value of blogging and attempts to reach a particular audience also drew a lot of attention. I wonder what it is about self-refective (doubting?) posts. How are they found. Maybe people read but don’t comment, so when faced with the thought of closure, speak up?

  2. My question is can you see who reads your site and/or blog when they are subscribers? I will admit, I rarely go to the actual webpage, and never comment, but I DO read your posts on my email subscription. Then, I click on the articles that you post from there. Does that count as someone “viewing” your post?

    1. WordPress provides some analytics about pages views and visitors. However, I think you would have to go to the blog itself to count as a view. That’s what is nice about subscribing – it saves you clicks.

  3. Matt, As usual your post is thoughtful and honest. I really like how you define blogging; the definition is now clear to me. Most of all, I appreciate that you are a wide and discerning reader and thinker and you let your audience know not only what you are reading that is noteworthy but also your views on why the particular information and views matter for teaching and learning. Please include me on your future posts. With admiration, Regie

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