So what does that mean? Well, I do it on my own time, and without the imprimatur of my employer. So in terms of online personas, my blog represents me as a museum professsional, not as an employee of a particular institution.
I started blogging originally as a way to capture institutional knowledge and practice that I felt were going to be lost in the wake of layoffs. The blog therefore was just a place to keep writing that wasn't on my work computer, but easily accessible. That lasted about a year, and wasn't terribly productive, because it was private and there was little impetus to complete the work. Then I went out and saw some art that blew my mind, and wanted everybody to know about it
On a fine November day, I went out with a couple of friends to see new installations at the de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and then the Peabody Essex Museum. After years of being mostly let down by mobile experiences and new media art in general, I had my eyes opened by two pieces by Halsey Burgund and Charles Sandison. I also had two really terrible experiences at the same time. And I wanted everybody to know. So I wrote lengthy reviews of them and spread the word online.
And once I started using my blog as a communication tool rather than as a personal writing dump, it became clear that it had value I hadn't foreseen. People asked questions I had to answer, sought clarification for things I hadn't communicated well enough, and they challenged me to expand my thinking. I got that same feeling I'd sometimes get at a really good conference, when I'm in one of those flow states and everything seems to fit together and build off the previous things. In short, I discovered blogging as a way to create my own professional development program. Having some unique value to add is critical. What have you seen/done that might be useful to others? When I look at the museum blogs I follow, almost all of them belong to people who do interesting work, so their posts tend to contain both broad information for the field, combined with specific examples of their work. Reading them not only teaches me new things, but keeps me abreast of what's going on in the field.
Blog communities are both communities of practice and communities of interest, and their self-organized nature makes them pretty high-value. The people there are committed.
Blogging can help you in Internet time. I can pose a question or a concern, or a draft of something and generally count on unsolicited help within hours if not minutes. I wrote an article that just came out in the current issue of Curator. It started back in April 2011, went through a complete rewrite and just now came out in October 2012. In that time, I've written over 70 blog posts, the equivalent of fifteen articles, and they’ve been seen by thousands of viewers around the world. That Curator article will reach a much smaller audience, especially stuck behind a Wiley paywall. Each medium has its affordances, but blogging has the benefit of speed. It's quick, so you can be very topical.
Being comfortable with the transparency of blogging. You blog it, and then it's out there. Even if you delete it, copies of it will persist somewhere and you can never take it back. Sometimes, that can be daunting, but it's great practice that pays off both online and everywhere else. And people will respond to what you say about *their* work.
The “Aha!” moment for me was when I wrote a review of the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania. Within a couple days, it’d had generated some interest and I found a comment from the founder/owner of MONA waiting in my queue. Talk about worrying! I had to go away and come back to it before I worked up the nerve to read what he said. Luckily it was a positive comment, but the realization that talking about real people’s work might reach them was an eye-opener for me. I strive to be even more careful now.
Blogging is terrifying. Every time I push the “Publish” button it feels like I’m launching a missile that is going to destroy my career. The nagging doubts never seem to go away, and I think it’s good to listen to them - for a second or two, just long enough to have that discussion, “Is this really what I want to say to the whole world?” And when the answer is, “Maybe I’ll just go back and reread it again to be safe.” then I think you’re going to be alright.
Blogging has built me a professional network that is global and very local, and not just the same people. I know that's a common complaint leveled against blogs,; that it's the same people talking back and forth with each, but it's not true. There's overlap, sure, but blogging has the potential to connect you with colleagues you'd never run into IRL who have some common interest and/or concern. It is a great way to build a community of interest as well as a community of practice. Looking at the people who follow my blog, and comment regularly, the breakdown is probably 30%/70% people I already knew from other circles, versus people I met primarily from online activity (blogging and Twitter). That's a big bump in my professional network.
I opted for the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” approach when I started blogging, so I am very very very careful about my choice of subject matter, perhaps to the point of foolishness
Reviews work My top five posts of all time are all reviews:
In the face of all this goodness, it’s easy to lose perspective and get caught up in the metanarrative of blogging. Blogging for me is not an end, but a means to an end - my continued PD. So stop looking at your stats and get back to work, OK?
Being transparent about your learning is scary, and requires both fortitude and some rigor, if you don’t want to get horribly embarrassed. The reward for me, though, is that my thinking gets immeasurably improved by the efforts of my community, and in the end, I think I’m a better professional as a result. Blogging is my school, and the success criterion is how much learning am I doing as a result. And by that measure, it’s amazingly successful, in part because of all you. Thanks!
MCN 2012 Blog session
Tales from the blog #mcn2012tale Blogging as aEd Rodley personal professional development practiceExhibit Developer
What kind of blogger am I? •Personal •Professional
I used to think a blogwas just a new kind of notebook
Then something happened QuickTime™ and a QuickTime™ and a decompressor decompressor are needed to see this picture.are needed to see this picture.
Blogging is …and a way a way to to bringshare your new ideas ideas to to you
You can use a blog to exploreideas that interest you……withinterestedcolleagues.
We’re hungry for reportsfrom the field• Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum• User trends and mobile app ideas• Australia: MONA – revolutionary, and not• Reviews: four apps that look at objects• Reviews: museum game apps
http://exhibitdev.wordpress.comTop 10 countries Top referrersUnited States Search EnginesAustralia 4x more than any other referrerUnited Kingdom TwitterCanada FacebookNetherlands museumtwo.blogspot.comIndia Google ReaderFrance Themuseumofthefuture.comNew Zealand linkedin.comSweden museumgeek.wordpress.comItaly WordPress.com strongmail.multiview.com Google sites.tufts.edu blogger.com