I've been to two picnics in the past week where I heard myself describe the enjoyments and benefits of blogging to others. I watched people try to deal with something so different from email in their experience. Yesterday, Tony Karrer got me thinking again about the value of blogging with his: Writing, Learning, Knowing - Help Needed. The comments added to Tony's post are full of insights into the value we are realizing from this read/write process.
As I thought more about "selling blogging" to others, I realized it's an easy sell to people who share its purposes. It's like handing people the keys to the car they've already bought so they can drive where they want to go. People who don't buy the underlying purposes of blogging are a tough sell. We're handing them keys before they have a car.
What are the purposes of blogging? Here's a start. If this was a separate web page, I could make it longer and more detailed. If it was a wiki page, WE could assemble a comprehensive list together.
- Formulating better questions to be asking, exploring, researching
- Integrating opposing viewpoints, unfamiliar frames of reference
- Making sense of turbulent changes, mixed messages, confusing signs
- Identifying "the real problem", underlying issues, hidden purposes
- Recognizing emerging trends, patterns, change models
- Giving to a community of shared interests, concerns, problems
- Strengthening one's "voice & viewpoint" by getting read, quoted, comments
- Gaining confidence as a valued member, worthy contributor
- Becoming more creative, innovative, unique
These purposes don't grow in hostile environments. In situations rife with office politics, conformity pressures or shortages (of time, attention, funds) blogging will serve no apparent purpose. Blogging may appear as a contrivance that only pretends to be useful or connected to desired outcomes. It may look like an indulgence that would be nice to do with more free time. Blogging may even show up as a threat to stability, staying on mission or survival.
When blogging appears to defeat the work of an enterprise, something is missing:
- The epistemic ground may not support risk taking, speaking up, honesty or deviating from group norms that are inherent in blogging
- The value networks may overemphasize tangibles at the expense of intangibles that: build in personal capabilities, empower individuals and reward intrinsic learning
- The learning may only be formal with an absence of mentors, communities of practice, after action reviews, PLE's, etc.
- The process of innovating may be confined to unconscious replication, thinking inside the box, incremental improvements, trying harder, etc.
Thus a sales pitch about the benefits of blogging will fall on deaf ears if the audience is working on hostile ground. Change the context by filling in what's missing, and blogging will sell itself. When blogging does not make sense, talking about blogging is futile. Talking about "fulfilling your purposes" makes sense.