Rejuvenating the Mind - On Blogging and #iPads

Stats as of Friday, 06/29/2012 at 9:49pm
Did you know my goal is to get 1000 hits a day? It's a fun goal not one I stress over.
a part of me dies every time the blog is 10 short of a 1000. ;-)

When I think back to how long it's been since I wrote a reflective blog entry, I'm shocked. So what if I wrote two earlier this week, I once cranked out reflection pieces in packs of 5-10. It's not that I don't want to write them, but rather, that I'm finding myself mentally weary at day's end. The feeling has been growing over the last year or two, and signals the need to catch up on sleep, and take a long vacation...which I'm planning for next summer.

Still, one of the activities that keeps me engaged and writing is learning something new. If I had to point to singular achievements for this past school year, they would include the following:
  1. Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations: The effect of these books on my work performance cannot be overstated. They simply were transformational and exceedingly helpful, providing the how-to facilitate conversations/confrontations in ways that didn't involve a sucker's choice (e.g. harmony vs results). As I facilitate a book study on Crucial Confrontations, I'm struck by how helpful the book and the audio have been. I listen to the audio for both books--not someone reading the book to me, but rather, the authors illustrating the points--on my way to and from work, or on long trips. While it's cut into my listening to podcasts, I honestly see the principles and skills demonstrated as worth "tuning out" the edtech podcasts I was wont to listen to before.
  2. The iPad: When I bought my 64gig, 3rd gen iPad, I knew I was going against the grain for my own vision of how technology should work. I gambled on the fact that the iPad was going to be a game-changer for me. In a lot of ways, it has done that, resulting in a love-hate conversation that has spawned 20+ blog entries. In fact, any blog entry I write that has "iPad" in the title results in greater number of hits than anything else. Fascinating, huh? Fortunately, I have to learn about iPad for work and learning is always fun for me. Unfortunately, having seen Kevin Honeycutt present, I am perpetually in awe of what *I* can't do with the iPad. For that reason, a Linux netbook seems to be more appropriate for a wordsmith rather than someone who isn't musically inclined or likes to make videos.
As you can see from the Statcounter logs below, the most popular pages are ipad related...that may be simply because that's what I'm featuring, but...
Highlighted items are iPad related

One easy blog entry I wrote yesterday was in response to a question that occurred to me while reading cats-pyjamas blog RSS feed on my phone sometime yesterday. I had only moments to skim, but since I'd just written a quick roundup list of Top 5 Curation Tools I noticed people using, the next day I wondered what would happen if I considered iPad curation tools. After all, I do a lot of my reading on both Android and iPad...what tools are available on those platforms to make curation easier?

Of course, all this navel-gazing about the blog and visitors isn't that big a deal anymore. It's nice to have people reading and finding one's work useful, but after a few years, it's not why I blog. I recently answered a question about blogging, worded something like this (edited to protect the identity of the person):
I am most interested in personal experiences with blogging online. By nature I would call myself a social introvert, however I can be extremely personable (seems like an oxymoron, I know). My main goal is to provide information and resources with respect to . . .I am however a bit apprehensive and extremely cautious of the information I release to the public.  Blogging is a new area for me in terms of providing my expert opinion, other than referred journal publication, so I am a bit timid in pinning my first blog and hitting the publish button.  Any insight on how you think I might proceed would help. 
My response went something like this:
Isn't it funny how social introverts may find expression in social media that is less threatening? I often have reflected that I am much more vocal, active, engaging when writing in my blog than I am in person. In fact, blogging has helped me better align my "inner voice" with my outer one, reconciling the two so that I am one person. I've noticed that when I stop blogging, I tend to build up on one side or the other--inner or outer--and get out of alignment. I blog to find out what I think and feel about something. The journey is well worth the few moments spent. 
The problem of aligning our inner and outer selves is one that others have mentioned. Organizations often have one vision of themselves among staff, "when it's just us," but quite a different projected persona when interacting with the public. This is problematic when blogging. The mis-alignment results in a false, organizational voice that is perceived as bunk. 
You are at the intersection of your field, public academic efforts, who you are as a person and a person interacting with perceptions about ethnicity, culture, education. That area gives you a rich field for pursuing what you are passionate about. Ultimately, a blog is a narrative  of who you are, what you are passionate about, and your efforts. You always have control of who that person you want to be perceived as should appear like...I only encourage you to ensure that whomever you are in public, you also are in private. If you believe your ethnic group membership offers a unique insight into your field, then 1) Declare your biases (as you would in research) and 2) Offer your informed opinion, citing your sources as links. 
The initial obstacle for new bloggers is finding their voice...they often haven't bothered developing it. And, they are afraid of making their writing edgy. What makes bloggers' writing edgy isn't being offensive, or being a risk-taker or unafraid, but rather, sharing what you are learning, feeling as it is happening to you, and being open about that...and, to use a word that was in wide use in blogger circles before politicians redefined it to mean "murky mess," transparent in your thinking. 
Another reflection is how much time you spend. When we write for publication (in the old-fashioned sense of research papers), we want everything to be perfect. In blogging, the goal isn't perfection but the perfect expression of transparent vulnerability. As you write, you may find yourself discovering that a particular program isn't all that you hoped it would be. Resist the temptation to soft-pedal your concerns, and instead, find a way to share them AND maintain the relationship. Be tentative in your expression, as you are a learner feeling her way through a forest of dry twigs. When they snap, allow the thunderclap to be heard, not only by you, but by your readers. 
Authenticity, transparency, your humanity...those will engage no matter what you write about.
Although the themes of authenticity, transparency in blogging are ones I've touched on before, the highlighted section reflects the impact of Crucial Conversations/Confrontations ideas on my outlook. 
As I suspected, I'm less mentally weary at the end of this blog entry. It's a lesson I forgot--blogging helps rejuvenate the brain.

I pray I don't forget it again.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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