The Challenges of Personal Blogging
I am a personal blogger, a reflective writer interested in journaling, cultivating my personal voice, as well as developing my official academic voice.
The first challenge of personal blogging has to do with shoring up enough confidence while expressing myself-in-the-moment. Buber (2005) refers to the act of pausing long enough to document in mid-stream one’s thoughts and experiences as “essential courage”. I am embracing solitude and it is not to show off, but to undertake a journey of discovery, and perhaps identify some helpful tools for personal bloggin that I can share with others.
The second challenge involves the search for the answer of how do I realistically balance the academic with the personal voices, when the characteristics of one blends sometimes with the other, blurring the voices?
The third challenge of personal blogging has to do with the balancing of the tentative with the autocratic voices, the way I come across to myself and to others, and how my personal voice is shared appropriately with my audience. To what extent am I an authority for myself, for others? And to what extent do I invite personal revisions and feedback from others? I am torn, often at cross-purposes. Sometimes I am writing for myself, in which I return to earlier posts, revise and edit and re-tag them, and then based on the conclusions and lessons I have drawn from the process of re-writing, I then write more proactively for my future self. And sometimes I have a vague sense of the external audience, vaguely throwing in additional content and using a more inclusive tone.
The fourth challenge of personal blogging has to do with using narrative more effectively, exploring the experiences more fully. Recognizing that the posts are grounded in time and place, do I owe myself more time for adding contextual cues? To what extent am I writing for the purpose of providing a more concise and coherent account? To what extent am I making decisions to hide details? reveal/distort details? What influences an I under while I write content?
The fifth challenge of personal blogging is to take a fundamentally different stance of learning: the primary purpose shifts more and more towards the personal away from the academic: blogging authentically to provide oneself an outlet for becoming an expert on one’s own development. Blogging, more than any other process, is more than the technology. It is the connections, the sustained narrative, and the life-stream that leaves a legacy. Blogging personally involves the whole person, in which one engages in self-assessment, re-interpretations and descriptions, justifications and open questioning, inferences and conclusions, and so the challenge for the personal blogger is how to engage self to accomplish the witnessing of one’s own life-journey.
The sixth challenge of personal blogging is how to extend oneself to serve others, and participate meaningfully as an agent of change. A persoanl blogger needs to seek venues to engage other individuals in learning partnerships, in study groups, in non-formal blogging circles, as a solo personal blogger recording one’s own journey, as well as engaging others in anonymous forums.
This community does nothing to provide the anonymous forum – and perhaps it is not the intent that such a forum have a place in this setting. In any case, AU Landing does not encourage students and instructors to debate from a position of anonymity the confused, chaotic feelings and experiences, the ambivalence, of engaging others and self within AU Landing.
There is no precedent for this kind of anonymous activity within formal learning spaces. The closest is the anonymous self-help forums with clearly defined codes of conduct, where there are mentors aiding novices in their explorations. Though many times the novices talk about the same things as experienced mentors, over time the mentors point to FAQs and archives for reference materials for newcomers.
Finally, there is the challenge of how to use personal blogging to tame and train what I call the inner gladiator, the combative side to our nature. To what extent can this community tolerate the virtual wars of words between participants? How can participants learn the best methods for distinguishing between excellent debate and open warfare? Bloggers face the challenge of determining what to vent – to what extent can we as personal bloggers express our unpopular, half-baked emotional opinions in this venue? So often the venting is a kind of catharsis, a momentary blow-out of emotional energy. In the light of further reflection, the poster retracts, or apologizes, or explains, or reviews, and there is a more human face added to that post.