Of Slow Blogging and Active Participation

Recently, I took up another of Lorelle’s Blog Challenge on my personal blog. This time around, the challenge was to write about favorite blog post failures (the parameters were primarily about attention and statistics). In my analysis, of a post that I believe failed, I wrote that my post failed because:

1. A high-level of abstraction,

2. A lack of direct (or any) context for the reader,

3. An assumption of what starts a conversation,

4. A dense word-smithery, and

5. While I didn’t mention it explicitly, the length of the post.

In a personal blog, one might think that these factors are permitted, given the nature of the content and the purpose of the blog. However, I insist that if a blog exists, readers are expected and therefore there needs to be (at least some) regard for the audience.

And some rules will apply, irrespective of the genre of the blog. I am grateful to Lorelle for putting these rules in a structured way. A better analysis than mine.

I have further come to believe that very few people read long posts (see #5 above). We have a fast shrinking attention span. We read only that which relevant to us, for that specific moment, and usually forget it after that data point has served its purpose. We seem to be seeking data rather than access knowledge. Byte size is over-hyped (is that a tautology or excessive exaggeration?)

Google search, for example, has caused a certain behavioral change in some of us, where we choose not to remember things (all things can be stored for future access). Anything can be Googled, even from a mobile. Doesn’t matter where you are.

And while I was almost succumbing to this notion of progress and change in lifestyle, of living life byte-sized, I read:

“[…] I do slow-blogging or meditative blogging. At least that’s what I’d like to work towards. It takes time for the many loose strands of thought to converge into a unified post; it takes a lot of effort, a lot of energy, and a lot ( I know, I know sometimes too much) writing. And some posts never quite find their footing; they remain awkward and tangled when I don’t have enough time or courage or energy or ability to go deep.” Slow Blogging: Context, Transitions and Traditions « (the new) bgblogging:

(Via George Seimens @ elearnspace > Chris Lott @ Ruminate.)

Along comes Michele Martin’s post on Learning through Blogging, where she summarizes responses from bloggers and learners, of how participation helps the learning process, and within that, possibly, how the level of active participation affects the level of learning:

“I don’t disagree that learners can get a lot from reading and ‘lurking’ online. Certainly I learn a ton from reading and I know that many others do, too.

[…] what I take issue with is the level of learning that takes place when you are only reading and not actively engaging with the content.

Looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy, for example, we can see that passive reading might be effective for lower-order cognitive skill development, but when we start to move into higher order thinking, we really need to start actively engaging with information. How can I apply, analyze, evaluate and create without in some way interacting with this information? And even if I can, is my learning going to be as deep?” The Bamboo Project Blog: More on Learning Through Blogging: What Readers Think

Seeing the analysis of my failed post, I do realize now that it is not so much the length or the abstraction of the post that caused it to fail, it is perhaps that I wrote it fast and have not bothered to spend time (even after it was published) to check if I said exactly what I wanted to say, if I was coherent, complete and precise. And if the post was capable of transmitting the same message to my readers.

Slow blogging starts making sense now. In a way that, with enough and relevant thought, it enables slow, thoughtful and active participation, which further allows you to refine and build upon your ideas.