Reflections on Assessing Blogging Activity
The extent to which one can successfully weave personally meaningful content into one’s own posts can be best assessed by an individual blogger using what I would refer to as the “tether test”.
The tether test idea was inspired while I was addressing a question at an ETUG workshop about how relevant an online archive was to the students several semesters later, or to the writers, years after they had participated in the discussions, graduated from the program, and had moved on. I suggested that the truest test of the significance of the post archive to individual learners was how well these posts retained relevance and significance to those who composed them, how well the posts were created by their owners to capture sufficient detail so that the owner (as well as others) could re-capture the essence of the content and re-start or continue the sense-making activity despite the intervening months or years the post lay dormant.
Oftentimes, I look back at the posts I have written, and wonder where I can follow up again on the links I refer to in this post, or get back to the sources that I visited before. I lack the signposts and notice the gaps and the missing details that might have aided me to continue on with my learning. I am thus sometimes frustrated at having forgotten or having neglected to add more clues to my way-making activity. I wonder also to what extent I could now (some time after I first posted) make further updates to the post with more context to help me re-trace my steps. Regrettably, these posts stand alone, isolated, disconnected forever from the concerns I had when I first composed the post. There are too many holes in the personal memory to gather he threads together to make the post more coherent. Instead, I am left to wonder what led me to be inspired at that moment, what other ideas and resources were connected to this post. It leads me to try to re-double my efforts not to leave posts un-tethered, no longer tied to the personal context that brought them into being. A post written months or years before that is limited in usefulness in the present moment provides me great lessons for self-improvement.
Blogging that involves weaving and texturing requires bloggers to actively play a number of roles for multiple audiences at once: one needs to blog as a chronicler, recorder, scribe, and biographer for the self in the moment, for the future selves, and for other selves. Seldom are we aware of this need to consider the potential significance of effective weaving and texturing. One needs to involve oneself fully in the decision-making processes, and this self-aware sharing can be intended for a pause-point one can turn back and review to monitor and track progress; however, it can also aid others to follow one’s own past thinking and struggles. These posts act as time capsules, or compositions, which summarize, evaluate, or paraphrase content, embed links from various sources, and add quotes, footnotes, and citations from one’s own and others’ posts, articles, web sites, podcasts, presentations, photos, files, videos, comments, and other multi-media content.