On blogging

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I had a great day on Friday – once again I had a rare opportunity to come together with other OU Systems Thinking in Practice alumni/students and with the course team and tutors.  I’ll put aside the topic of the get together for now, needs more digesting.  But I wanted to reflect on something that happened in the social spaces – the number of times other people mentioned this blog and my blogging activity.

The people who have known me for a while all said ‘well you do your blogging’ and others – like more recent students – said ‘hello, I know you through your blog’.  It was really nice to hear that the blog is strongly in the consciousness of other people.

But for me – at the back of my mind – was this odd feeling – I knew I hadn’t blogged for a while – three months in fact.   It made me start thinking about what leads me to write a post and why there have been such big gaps between posts in the last couple of years.  The prompt to reflect on this is timely in that I have just been reading on the role of writing during the research process – field notes and reflective diaries – which both add to the range of data you have to draw on AND the rigour of being able to explain how you reach particular conclusions.  Authors also highlight the importance of writing drafts of sections to help consolidate your thinking at a point in time.  I’ve partly wondered whether to do these things through the blog BUT…

– some things just can’t be put in the public domain – they are part of the confidentiality agreement in place with your participants.  This impacts on what you can say publically.  Other things not covered by ethics may be just unwise to say!

– other things seem to note-y for a blog.  They are a list of thoughts rather than something with more structured sentences and paragraphs that others may find interesting to read.  They may even be very rough mind-maps or other diagrams which aren’t conducive to electronic media.

– at the other end of the spectrum, some things are ‘too’ academic – to develop my thoughts on something requires a while – more like a mini-essay – with lots of rigorous referencing.  The more references needed in a blog the more clumsy the final formatting and publication.

So that means I need a place (or places) other than this blog for writing my thoughts – doing fieldnotes and reflections.  And, if I start using those other places, will I remember the ‘right’ times to come back to this medium.  Then if I have multiple places – including this blog – how will I reconstruct the story-line if I want to.

My history of blogging means I know the value of writing for thinking.  It is often only as you get part-way through a blog that your thinking on something becomes ‘tangible’ to you.  It isn’t just a matter of making a record, I learn through writing.

So I’ve got to make some decisions – about the types of writing I will need to do as I progress with my research journey – and the most relevant/appropriate places to do that writing.  And, potentially some way of ‘recording’ the story-line of being able to pull these sources together – whether pen and paper; blog; formal memos; word documents.  At the moment, those decisions seem overwhelmingly complicated – maybe my pattern of activity will just emerge – I’ll know in the moment where the ‘right’ place is.  Just like the moment that led to this blog!

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