|flickr - Talba in Iceland (creative commons licensed)|
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harborless immensities. --Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 32, "Cetology"
In assigning my students to blog, rather than to write traditional research papers, I have launched them into an ocean of possibility with more hope than certainty. Will these untried vessels of communication be adequate for the "harborless immensities" that await them in the cyber-sea? And now, one third of the way into our time together, we have lost sight of shore and I am taking stock. Are our blogs a leaky fleet, or are they making sail toward real destinations?
I see a few bloggers starting to take off, raising their sails into the wind. How does this happen?
They Tap into a Personal Passion
|Matt Harrison's blog is tightly focused on his interest in comics|
They Tap into a Career Direction
|Nyssa Silvester's blog is focused on the effects|
of eBooks on the publishing industry
Meanwhile, Nyssa Silvester's blog suddenly "woke up" when she found an angle that fits her destined career in editing. Starting with this post (on eBooks and the publishing industry), Nyssa's blog suddenly got a focus that kept her blogging along even when she got sick. She has not yet created a critical mass of posts, but I have faith that she will get there because she so clearly found a way to connect her blogging with her chosen career. Go for it, Nyssa.
They actively reach out to others.
|Amy Whitaker not only found, but contacted|
people doing cool things with the book she is researching
Amy Whitaker's blog just spiked in its legitimacy because she not only did some interesting research about the book she is researching, Where the Red Fern Grows, but she contacted two different people involved in a recent effort to organize illustrators to create art for classic works of literature. This is fulfilling my strong recommendation (under the digital literacy principle, "connect") to do social discovery. (Social discovery is very, very powerful tool for turning casual bloggers into serious researchers who are in the game. I hope all my students will read over the many examples of this I have posted). Amy is still very much in the beginning stages of her blog, but she's got direction she didn't have before -- even if the people to whom she wrote never respond. There is just something powerful about reaching out to engage others on a topic of common interest. Try it!
I'll feature other students' work as I sense them also starting to "set sail." In the meantime:
- Are you using your blog to tap into a personal passion?
- Can a career ambition get you focused and active online?
- Have you tried the miracle motivator of reaching out to others?