Nov 122010

So here’s the thing:

I’ve been meaning to write for a long time.*

Since my last post (egads– scary how long it’s been), I have written 6 drafts. Yes, 6. The most recent of those I did in May of this year, and it’s a doozy (stay tuned — it involves some post-reflection reflection — how’s that for getting meta?). But I haven’t published any of them. Why? I present to you… The Excuses:

  • Because I’m not good at publishing without revision. (Should I be? is this a Web 2.0/3.0/21st c. skill I want?)
  • Because I didn’t have time.
  • Because I’ve been too busy.
  • Because I didn’t have anything to say. (Okay, that’s a lie — I always have plenty to say. Whether it’s of substance is another story.)
  • Because family was visiting.
  • Because the weather was nice and it’s more fun to be outside than inside writing.
  • Because I moved my blog and it was complicated.
  • Because it’s easier to tweet.
  • Because I write or contribute to other blogs.
  • Because I have 340840198408 pages of reading to do and this grad program does not leave enough time for decompression and reflection.

I’ll let you decide which of those excuses are valid enough to be reasons.

But now this #gradschoolalliance thing is up and running and between me, Sava, and Leslie, I’m the last one who is posting. Me! ME! Me… whom many of my colleagues (former and present) know as She Who Promoteth Blogging the Mostest.

It’s true. I think blogging is da bomb. So much so that I (along with an NYU colleague who is nowhere on the interwebs for me to link to, ironically) designed an online collaborative writing platform for “learning” writers called Beyond Blog.**

But here’s the OTHER thing:

Good writing takes time.

At least for me it does. This very post that you’re reading right now (you’re still reading, right?) began as a bunch of notes on a page that grew from:

  1. watching a recorded webinar on Community Best Practices in the U.S. Air Force, and being awed at how spot-on it was in terms of leveraging social learning for developing a community of professional learners. (For real: why does the U.S. Air Force have well-connected, pedagogically-driven educators but the U.S. school system is so broken? What is wrong with this picture?)
  2. reading my notes.
  3. reading some Wenger, White, and Smith.
  4. participating last-minute in an Elluminate session with Jen, which I was unprepared for but still psyched, and from which I felt more like a lurker (ironically, which I openly criticized) than a participant.
  5. reading my notes again and realizing I wasn’t following my own advice.
  6. zeroing in on THIS:

Zeroing in

Yeah. Don’t you hate it when you’re your own best teacher? It occurred to me that by not blogging, I was not participating fully.

And that’s when I realized the OTHER OTHER thing:

I had taken all this time developing notes for a part of my thesis…

… and I now had something to write about.

I’m back.

(not in black)

Hold me to it, please.***


*Don’t go stealing our ideas, now. I’ve got a prototype, even. Pshaw!

**It’s not like I haven’t written anything, btw. What do you think I am, a total slacker? There’s been this thing called g-r-a-d s-c-h-o-o-l. Would you like to read my article annotations? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

***Gently. No wrestling-grip strength, please.

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 12 November, 2010  Posted by at 11:58 pm On the Personal Side, Writing Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »
Dec 072009

I have been noticing lately that since I don’t have a TV, I spend much more time in my Google Reader. I feel like I am reading MUCH more lately, in general, but it’s been nice to have time to actually peruse the items in my reader that before, I used to gloss over.

However, I’ve noticed that rather than get to all those posts from The Guy/Girl Who Posts 12 Times Daily, I am find myself looking forward to reading those posts from The Guy/Girl Who Posts One or Two Nuggets Per Month. What I mean is, while I thought I’d be happy about spending more time in my reader because I’d finally have time to read all the stuff from the people who seem to have tons of time to do nothing but write blog posts, I’m finding that these people — the ones who post incessantly — are not the ones whose blogs I look forward to reading.


Well, I’m starting to think it’s because I favor quality over quantity. Just because you’re writing all the time does not mean you’re writing something good all the time. Some of it’s good, and some of it isn’t. In fact, I’d venture to say that of The Guy/Girl Who Posts 12 Times Daily, about 20% of those posts are worth reading. Granted, even 20% of 12 each day still more than The Guy/Girl Who Posts One or Two Nuggets Per Month, but which posts are staying with me later? which ones am I remembering?

The ones from The Guy/Girl Who Posts One or Two Nuggets Per Month.

Isn’t that interesting?

And I find myself really excited when I see something new from Nugget Guy/Girl in my reader, whereas when I see stuff from 12-Posts-A-Day Guy/Girl, I kinda find myself groaning about how I’m going to have to sift through all the post titles to find what’s actually valuable. And even being worth reading is not the same as lingering in my mind and causing reflection.

I’m still thinking about how and why this all is, and may post a follow-up at a later date… just thought I’d record my thoughts while I had them.

What do you think? Do you, like me, seem to prefer reading Nugget Guy/Girl over 12-Posts-A-Day? Or is it not possible to generalize? What makes specific posts in your reader stand out?

Striped Bachelor by Matti Mattila

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 7 December, 2009  Posted by at 3:18 am Professional Development, Writing Tagged with: , , ,  2 Responses »
Oct 132009

If I Had Something to Say by re_birf
Attribution License

This week we’ve been asked to jot down / sketch / brainstorm some ideas about our final design project. I was pretty stumped for a while, and I’m still not sure I’ve really got any ideas. I have several jotted down in my (paper) notebook and have been letting them “sit” in my mind for the last 4 or 5 days. Generally they all come back to writing and how to make it more of a social, interactive experience. Basically, I am uncomfortable (always have been) with the stereotypical image of “writer in solitude.” While I agree that at times one can write better when sitting alone, I also think good writers can emerge from a supported community. It takes some balance. I’m not really keen on teaching / instructing people how to become better writers in solitude. I’ll leave that for Sark, Natalie Goldberg, and Julia Cameron. I’m much more interested in how to capitalize on the hive mind and create some solid pieces of Writing For The People.

i am by Will Lion
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Robert Scoble tried a variation of this using FriendFeed and Twitter, but I am much more interested in the idea of having some kind of platform that makes this all possible — that your audience can give you feedback as the ideas are being generated, and that parts of the writer’s words can be shared, and critiqued, before the piece is “finished.” Or perhaps the piece is never finished? I’d like there to be some element of audio / video, as well, so that users can comment this way and so that the focus is not entirely text-based. I basically want writing — that is, communicating via text — to not be as laborious and text-heavy as it is now. In order to blog these days, you have to be pretty text literate. And while that is fine for those of us who are verbal and educated, what about twelve-year-olds who have something to put out into the world, who want to refine their writing, but want some help and interaction to make their writing really phenomenal?

Perhaps I’m thinking too grandiose at the moment…

What’s been sticking out to me when reading Saffer, Sharp, Norman, and Adams is how important it is for the affordances of the interface to be almost instinctual, or intuitive. I also am intrigued by the feedback/ feed-forward ideas Saffer discusses in Chapter 7; it is striking to me how few programs / platforms incorporate this. The key, I guess, is to have everything seem simple to the user but in reality the complexity is all hidden from the user. Which has got me thinking — if it is intuitive to me, how will I know it is intuitive to others? Saffer in particular talks about how so many designers design things for other designers, and how this is just not cool. I have to agree. So I am wondering — hoping? optimistically? naively? — that not being a designer myself or having that background will actually be an advantage in this particular project. Or is that what every designer thinks when they first start out… ? 😉 I suppose it comes back to what we’ve been learning in every course so far — a tenet that is fundamental to educators in general — know your user. Do research, talk to them, study them, find out how they will use things, how they think. This reminds me also how intrigued I was about all the user research that went into Quest Atlantis, having read about this for a different course. Knowing your user is key, and I suppose one cannot assume ever that they are just like oneself! :)

I have to admit that I’m really also loving the ideas of one of my classmates, Poukhan. Check out her ideas. I am tempted to scrap my interactive writing idea altogether and ask if I can join her!

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