Sunday, July 20, 2008
From Let it begin with me - mind training and meditation briefings A rough guide to mind training and meditation
One of the resources that this weblog uses is Daily Writing Tips, which is listed in the left hand column under Blogging Roads Less Traveled. An important question raised by Daily Writing Tips is, "why blog"? They assert that having a blog can help your writing.
Do you have your own blog? If so, do you sometimes feel guilty about spending time writing for your blog rather than working on something which you consider more “worthwhile”? If you don't have a blog, have you ever thought of starting one? Perhaps you're not sure whether it would be worth the investment of your time and energy.
Here are Daily Writing Tips 5 reasons why blogging improves your writing.
There are five great ways that starting your own blog, or continuing writing the one you already have, can improve your writing.
1. You’ll get into the habit of writing regularly. Blog posts tend to be short and can be online as soon as you've written them: Very true, though my posts can get longer if I am dealing with an involved subject. The instant publishing can be problem because it is too easy, but I give myself the option to re-write what I have posted if I find mistakes afterwards or think of a better way to say something. Overtime, my need to re-write has been becoming less, relatively speaking. There are some posts at which I will keep plugging away before publishing them to read up on additional sources of information or because it just isn't sounding quite right.
2. Instant feedback lets you know how you're doing: As this is my personal learning web portal, feedback is not essential, but I have received some positive comments or obtained other forms of acknowledgement. Nobody has, however, given me either positive or negative feedback on my writing itself, which I would not expect for a blog as it is a different type of creature. Most times posts are judged on content and there have been posts claiming that blogs can ignore some of the writing rules.
As far as none at all feedback, that would be vast majority of this effort. So there is still the potential for this work to be boring, trite or over-done.
3. Having readers for your work is a big motivation: Even making a tiny ripple within the Internet was motivating and to some extent addicting. Having the opportunity to participate in the creation of a wave of change is also enticing. It also makes a difference who is reading this blog. In the early stages of this weblog I linked to anything having to do with paradigms that seemed to fit. One link was to the Paradigm Online Writing Assistant under PoetryExpress again under the left hand column. What was surprising was the number of visits from that site to this one. That was a big motivator in making the posts at least adequate in terms of writing.
FeedBurner also tallys how many times a webpost you have created or a weblink you have saved on del.icio.us or elsewhere is clicked. Overall, this weblog has resulted in 6,467 clicks back to the original site on 301 items. That means that on average 21 people found something useful in what I did at least enough to click the item. While that won't let me quit my day job it is still gratifying. The highest was 128 clicks for WHO, What are the key health dangers for children? I found the idea of being able to provide a helpful link to others appealing, in some ways more appealing than having somebody read something that I wrote. The trouble is that has now dropped radically. The average number of clicks for the last month as dropped to 19 clicks back to the originating site on 11 items. Why the sudden upswing and then sudden downswing is not something for which I have found an explanation.
This weblog according to Technorati's Dave Sifry has low authority, which is currently at 6, but it has some authority, which is more than I was originally expecting. The Low Authority Group is defined as 3-9 blogs linking in the last 6 months. Though admittedly some of the links are self-promotional for the blogs doing the linking. Again, my impact on FeedBurner has fluctuated. I began with zero, so anything would have been an improvement. My average number of subscribers has been 9, since I started this experiment in late 2007.
4. Your writing will improve. The best way to get better at anything is to practice. Writing frequently for your blog means your writing will improve: I do believe that this is true. The posts are becoming better than earlier posts. Do they make you cringe, when compared to your writing now? Enough that, every now and then, I will still go back to make corrections or do re-writes.
5. Blogs are an ideal medium for experimentation: Definitely agree with this one. It is part of the reason that this weblog has evolved into something more than was originally envisioned.
One form of experimentation suggested is using Bullet pointed lists. Creating a blog, especially this blog, involves both combining and expanding concepts and then distilling and summarizing them into a more concise format. Most blogs, in my view, depend to a very large extent upon the work of others or stories within the news. This weblog is no exception. There needs to be enough of a change though to make the post truly yours rather than just a rehash of somebody else's work.
What I found as fascinating as the fact that somebody was reading or clicking my stuff was where they were coming from - around the globe. According to Lijit, this weblog has had 227 page views in the last month, actually 393 minus the 166 orginating from Nanjing, China where I am staying. Most of these were within the United States but others have originated from South America, Europe and Asia. Feedburner indicated the same thing. The other aspect of this blog that has helped with international connections is learning different tagging and social bookmarking systems. Again, this weblog connects with others in South American, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Daily Writing Tips helps me to understand that there is a difference between blogging and writing. Yes, they are very much interrelated, but they are still also have independent aspects. One can write without ever touching a computer and there are technical issues related specially to blogging. While there are those who argue that they are even more distinct, the skills of writing can only make blogging better to my mind. This question has been asked before, but it's good to be reminded and look at the issue from a different facet. Whether you think it is worth the investment depends upon what you want to get out of it. It also depends on what you define as being a blog.
The Internet and Web 2.0 (presuming we see these as two different things) seems to keep re-inventing themselves, which often means re-inventing the terms to describe them. Web 2.0 seems to be in the midst of being re-invented as social media. Weblogs are now everything from personal journals to alternative news sources. At one time though, according to Jon Barger, who originated the term: "1. A true weblog is a log of all the URLs you want to save or share. (So del.icio.us is actually better for blogging than blogger.com.)
This weblog did not start off with the intention of becoming a blog in the current sense of the term. I also wanted it to be more than just an inert collection of weblinks. It was an experiment in collecting data and information from various sources within the Internet and organizing them for easy retrieval in such a manner that new connections could be made and a better understanding of various subjects could be obtained. The essential point was being able to generate new connections for deeper understanding. Its original intention was to be a learning tool.
This endeavor was started with the understanding that I was a novice. The old adage was to write what you know about. This weblog at least starts with what I do not know about and though there is much I have discovered, I continue to learn more with the focus being on new learning. Even within those areas of professional experience the decision was made to start with an empty cup and begin with a beginners mind. Then I found out that somebody was reading what I wrote and that started changing things.
So I definitely believe that this weblog has created some value for me, even if it might not be judged successful as a blog in the common use of the term.