Blogging About Blogging

I have been blogging for some time.
This WordPress blog dates back to June 2008.
I have Blogger, Tumblr and Posterous blog accounts too.
This week a friend, Darrell Cobner, asked me to write about blogging. He is an accomplished blogger and I was delighted that he asked me.
Darrell’s request was for me to address:

  • What is blogging?
  • Why blog?
  • What is the impact?
  • What are the rules of engagement?

I started drafting this blog post just after I had read John Kessel’s delightful Celebrating Together post on the USA Volleyball blogs site. His opening paragraph addresses implicitly Darrell’s questions:

Just finished our annual meetings in Salt Lake City, where all the USAV leaders come to share their season’s experiences and best practices and plan ahead to grow the game anew. This being an Olympic Year, our CEO Doug Beal shared a special powerpoint at the Congress, celebrating the achievements of volleyball in the USA, aka USA Volleyball in his State of the Game.  It is shared here, since so many of you reading this blog could not be in Salt Lake, yet you are growing the game so well in your part of our nation – we wanted you to celebrate too.  CLICK HERE to download and read it, you will learn a lot about how the Team behind the Team, which is all of us, are doing at USA Volleyball.

Explicitly, here are my thoughts on Darrell’s questions.
What Is Blogging?
Wikipedia has a very clear description of blogging:

A blog is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. Blogs are usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often are themed on a single subject.

Stephen Downes adds that:

Though blogs are typically thought of as personal journals, there is no limit to what may be covered in a blog. It is common for people to write blogs to describe their work, their hobbies, their pets, social and political issues, or news and current events.

The uptake of blogging was accelerated by easy to use blog platforms like Blogger and WordPress. Both provided and continue to provide ways for the uncomplicated upload of content. This makes blogging a very personal activity.  The author creates, uploads and monitors content of the blog.
In recent years Twitter has made microblogging an everyday activity that enables the exchange of short sentences, web links, and pictures.
Why Blog?
I mentioned John Kessel’s  Celebrating Together post on the USA Volleyball blogs site earlier. I return to it here to help explain why blog.
In the paragraph I quoted John makes the following points:

  • Just finished our annual meetings in Salt Lake City, where all the USAV leaders come to share their season’s experiences and best practices and plan ahead to grow the game anew.
  • Our CEO Doug Beal shared a special powerpoint at the Congress, celebrating the achievements of volleyball in the USA.
  • It is shared here, since so many of you reading this blog could not be in Salt Lake, yet you are growing the game so well in your part of our nation – we wanted you to celebrate too.  CLICK HERE to download
  • You will learn a lot about how the Team behind the Team, which is all of us, are doing at USA Volleyball.

John’s post exhibits two fundamental aspects of the why blog discussion:

  1. There is an unconditional commitment to sharing experiences and resources.
  2. The topic is of the author’s choice and narrative style.

I see blogging as a voluntary contribution to a community. Whenever I attend a conference or workshop I blog live so that those not attending can access information if they wish.
An example is my blog posts from the Computer Science in Sport Conference (Special Emphasis: Football) at Schloss Dagstuhl, Germany in 2011.
I blog to share my interests in performance and this leads me to share data from my research activities.
An example is my blog posts about performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
What I find particularly exciting about this approach is:

  • There is no expectation that anyone will read any post.
  • Occasionally people comment on the posts and this leads to thought-provoking exchange.
  • It contributes to a world that flourishes through reciprocal altruism.

What Is The Impact?
Blogging offers an immediate way to share information or discuss ideas.
I have posted 619 times to my blog since June 2008. This is a rich record for me of items of interest to me and a cloud resource I draw upon when meeting others interested in learning, teaching, coaching and performance. To date I have had 112,000+ visitors to the site.
I saw a big spike in readership during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Thereafter searches on Google yield some of my posts.

The availability of alerts to blog posts on topics or by a particular author has transformed the impact of blog posts.
In contemplating the impact of blog posts I am mindful of Todd Sieling’s advice about slow blogging.

Slow Blogging is a willingness to remain silent amid the daily outrages and ecstasies that fill nothing more than single moments in time, switching between banality, crushing heartbreak and end-of-the-world psychotic glee in the mere space between headlines. The thing you wished you said in the moment last week can be said next month, or next year, and you’ll only look all the smarter.

I am conscious that if we are to use blog posts as an indicator or reach and impact then we must engage in slow blogging.We must think too about the tags we use to point to the slow blogging outputs.
I think microblogging with Twitter offers an alternative for the immediate response to events.
What Are The Rules Of Engagement?
It is a public space
Back in 2007 Tim O’Reilly suggested that “I do think we need some code of conduct around what is acceptable behaviour, I would hope that it doesn’t come through any kind of regulation it would come through self-regulation.” One of his seven recommendations was:

Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.

Kate Carruthers’ advice
In my own blog I have an About page. On it I say:

This is a personal blog. Kate Carruthers has a great guide to rules of engagement for personal blogs. I try to follow her rules.

Kate’s rules are great!

  • This is my personal blog and I write it for my own personal satisfaction.
  • Readers are encouraged to comment, debate and discuss.
  • I moderate all comments and publish most, unless they appear (to my totally subjective gaze) to be defamatory, spammy, hate-mongering, not particularly constructive, or just plain rude/crude.
  • It’s fine to disagree with me, but I’m unlikely to publish your comment unless you display a modicum of style and intelligence.
  • if you do not provide a real name/identity/email I may choose not to publish your comments.
  • Real people who stand by their comments are cool!
  • This blog discusses ideas but does not purport to provide formal business, technology, psychology or finance advice.
  • Readers should seek (and probably pay for) advice of that nature from a professional source.
  • The content on this website is provided “as is” with no warranties, and confers no rights.
  • The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent views of any clients or employers in any way.
  • Nothing posted here should be considered official or sanctioned by any of my clients or employers or any organisation I am affiliated with.
  • Feel free to quote liberally from this blog if you want – please link back in the best web tradition if you use any material provided here and give credit for material used.

Sharing openly and open about sharing
Richard Byrne has a helpful post from 24 May 2011 that contains some detailed advice about:

  • What to do when you see your blog posts being stolen
  • What to do if you want to reuse someone’s blog post(s)

In Conclusion
I have written this post from the perspective of a person who seeks to share through blogging. I recognise that there are other motives to blog.
I am excited by the reflective potential of blogs in education and sport settings.
I facilitated a Sport Coaching Pedagogy unit at the University of Canberra last semester. One of the requirements of the unit was to develop a blog as a journal. I have compiled a list of the 60 blogs produced by the students on a Wikiversity page.
Perhaps the next discussion with Darrell will be about wikis … but not before some more of John Kessel’s post:

The final night of meetings before play begins, is the “Boyce Banquet” in honor of Dorothy C. Boyce.  Dorothy joined USAV in 1952 as a consultant on women’s volleyball and took on many leadership roles over her 22 years of involvement, including being USAV Vice President for a decade.  Traditionally, I sit at the banquet with Mike Hulett, who, if you don’t know of him…well dang it you should. I knew what was coming, as I had contributed a lot of photos of Mike, having been with him for decades as he helped head coach in our USA Paralympic programs. So take time to read the link award below, and watch the video ( CLICK HERE to watch) that I took of his surprise in being honored with USA Volleyball’s highest award, the Frier (named after the USAV leader who almost singlehandedly got volleyball into the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, just one of those things that we all should know and celebrate too…).  Mike’s achievements are something we ALL should celebrate in volleyball.  Just another thing USA Volleyball does to help volleyball for all, including the disabled of all ages.

Thank you for finding time to read this post. There are some other posts about blogging here.


    • James
      Thanks for finding this post. I think microblogging has enormous immediacy advantages. I like the idea that microblogs can alert to blog posts and leave the reader with options. I find immensely helpful to aggregate all these tweets.
      Best wishes

  1. Hi Keith,
    Thank you for the thoroughness of your response to my query. It has really assisted me.
    As a supplementary question: Why would people use an alias in a blog site? and what is your opinion of this?

    • Darrell
      Thank you for being the stimulus for this post. Thank you too for your question.
      I believe the key to the public internet is openness and transparency. Given the opportunities we have to create a digital identity I think we should use this identity whenever we commit to commenting on blog sites.
      I think your blog invites response given the quality and range of material you cover.
      I am not sure if you have experienced any troll comments but I think Kate Carruthers has some helpful guidelines about this behaviour.
      There are times when people choose to offer an anonymous comment. I regard these as important and often indicate a legitimate peripheral participant starting to develop an on-line voice.
      I am hopeful that my own openness leaves no one in doubt about my interest in their work.
      The final choice we have is to use active moderation to champion openness.
      Thanks again, Darrell.

  2. Keith
    I agree with all of your comments. The importance of an online presence/reputation cannot be underestimated. It demonstrates a contribution to the field as a reflective practitioner, which assists employability and can open up opportunities. With this in mind, why would you conceal your identity?
    An example of online branding is provided by one of our MSc students at Cardiff Met – Binh has documented an account of his journey through PA, balancing a personal and professional approach.

    • Thanks for sharing Binh’s link, Darrell.
      I am delighted that you have a gravatar to accompany your comments.
      The next part of the journey for me is to encourage the use of Creative Commons licenses for the material that can be produced independent of copyright broadcast images.
      This has been my approach with creating resources for canoe slalom judging.
      Best wishes

  3. On a different, but linked note:
    I was scanning for a way to organise the web-links I have accumulated over time. I discovered this free tool and thought I would share it with you.
    I have initially used it to compile the blogs of the people who have contributed to the VPA website to date. I am going to explore it further to maximise the functionality.
    If this is useful to you, please follow this link to create your own account; this may unlock more access to future features for the VPA account 😉

    • Thanks for this suggestion, Darrell.
      I have looked at Netvibes and LiveBinders as connecting tools.
      I think aggregation is the next stage of the performance analysis journey.
      This is the start of our wiki conversation!
      Best wishes

  4. The other tool which actually found me was, which generates a visual magazine look to the gathered articles.
    After my first blog went live, it got scooped and then rescooped (twice) within a short period of time; coincidentally it was the word ‘connectivity’ that someone was scooping.
    I look forward to learning more about the tools you want to aggregate…

    • Thank you for sharing this paper, James. I think it exemplifies the power of blogging and the possibilities created by openness.


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