My blog had its tenth birthday last month. And probably, as I treat my actual birthday, I didn't really pay it much attention. I had thoughts about doing a post on the actual day but didn't really have something to say. I even thought about doing a give-away or a competition, but I have a feeling that the days of readers numbering in the hundreds (probably down to single figures now) are long gone.
But ten years is a significant slab of time. I started writing here because my school at the time had just installed interactive whiteboards and I figured that blogging might have been a good way to connect to others to get ideas and advice in their best use for learning. What I did stumble into was networked learning, exposure to innovative minds and a handy ringside seat into the broader development of educators delving into social media.
I don't blog now nearly as much as I did back then. But I have been able to interact with many great thinkers and innovators - some who still influence my thinking to this day. Certainly, there were many well established edubloggers around when I started this journey so I am certainly no pioneer. Along with Michael Coghlan and Mike Seyfang, I was one of the earlier South Australian bloggers flexing our developing social media muscles. When I think about the early edubloggers I was reading, many were well established in their craft - if you aren't aware of Stephen Downes', Nancy White's and Alan Levine's amazing bodies of work, then you need to take the time meander down their well established digital paths. George Siemens may well be hailed as the mind behind Connectivism as a learning theory, but Leigh Blackall deserves as least as much acknowledgement as an active mind developing awareness about Networked Learning. If you don't believe me, check out the Revision History tab on the Wikipedia entry to see how much time he has put in there. He (along with Alex Hayes) was the first to expose me to the concept of "free ranging" showing how one's learning can be stored in a range of digital depositories. This was a concept that he continues to use - it might explain why his work isn't cited by "experts" because he actually practices his ideas rather than just theorise from a traditional academic viewpoint. I strongly believe that Leigh's name and ideas should be more widely known and acknowledged in the Australian edtech community. But I suppose he isn't founding edtech Twitter hashtags, or being an "edupreneur" so the importance of his ideas are somewhat neglected.
Speaking of Twitter, I was an early educator user, signing up for my account back in March 2007. No #hashtagchats, no "Welcome to my PLN" autoreplies, no inserted ads or "while you were away" reminders. Not many Australians in the first few years either - and my Twitter connections were basically bloggers who I was already reading. After a year or so, I did start to see some clever Twitter only educators start to leverage the tool in new ways which has led to the massive info-stream that you get nowadays. I've always thought that you only add a connection that adds to your learning so I have never felt the need to follow back. And if I don't add much to your learning, then perhaps I should be cut loose from your Following list as well.
It is pretty cool that I can look back at my state_of_brain over the period of ten years. I have engaged with so many digital learners and my own learning has been super fast tracked that I take the connection for granted. Even in 2015, I encounter adults who are amazed at how quickly I can find what I want online, how I can reference some many other great thinkers so quickly - and I am amazed that what I do isn't just commonplace in educators anyway. It should be - I am no one special. If I can be connected and learning, anyone can. Ten years here at my favourite Edublogs haunt proves it.
Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary! Blogging has helped us connect with so many people. I’m grateful to you, and all the others, who helped my learning over the years.
Hope at least you had some cake?
Thanks, Sue. I am very happy to make my online home here at Edublogs and remain one of your biggest fans. No cake – not even for my real birthday!
Happy blogging b-day!
You were among the pioneers when I joined the blog wold in 2006.
I like your memories of Twitter. I remember following 12 people at first. I had time to read all the back tweets.
Thank you for the comment. I still consider you to be one of the most thought provoking bloggers that I have had the privilege of reading.
Gone are the days, and the vigorous hope too few of us had. Darkness is all around now. The great opportunities in online social networking squandered by our social institutions and their disastrous ideology of commodification. A faint glimmer of hope still remains though, as ours is a political disposition now ages old. Some day we might be better prepared for the next opportunity.
Sorry to take so long to reply, Leigh. I may have left this so long that you may not even read this. It is very true that what appealed to me about Web 2.0 was the concept of the individual being able to make a difference to learning by connecting with other like minded individuals. It is also very true that many of the tools we played around with like blogs, podcasts, streaming and wikis have become much more mainstream which makes it ripe for the commodification and commercialization of online opportunities. People do re-sharing now instead of exploring their own ideas, Twitter has become a place for educators to trumpet their own successes in order to become well known. It has all become rather capitalistic, while groups like TALO were all about community and sharing the journey, and playing with new ideas and promoting equity.
I still take heart from people like Alan Levine and Tom Woodward who still continue to explore and create, deliberately oblivious to the commercial or institutional forces that seem to dictate everyone else’s approach. And maybe, it is better to find refuge elsewhere away from the mainstream. The web is a big place after all.