Time in blogging: catching a moment to write
There is at least one nice effect of not being able to blog a conference: over time bits and pieces start to merge revealing underlying themes and turning reporting into reflecting.
This time it's about time. Somehow different things get together: BlogWalk discussion on a need for time to blog before getting new ideas, AOIR session on time and responsiveness, Jill's talk about time as one dimension of distributed narratives, time of not being able to blog, time to process blog post piling up in my news aggregator...
I guess I'll do a couple of posts. This one is about time in writing a weblog (see also Time in blogging: writers time and readers time).
Alex Halavais on not blogging (and go there to read the rest and to see new t-shirt of Professor Walker :)
During one of the sessions on the last day of the conference, Nancy Baym, president of AIR, suggested that someone was going to set up a web page with postings related to the conference. This followed her request at one of the keynotes that people write up their notes and post them to the AIR-L list. I noted that Lilia had already set up a Topic Exchange channel to collect bloggers' thoughts. At the end of the conference, I ran into Nancy again at Falmer Station. She noted that most of the posts so far were just complaining about the lack of access. "Don't worry," I said, "when people get back to somewhere with access they'll post." As I watched her cross over to the other platform, I thought: what a stupid thing to say.
When people get back to wherever they are going, chances are good that their minds will have switched gears and they will have more current things to post about. I am sitting on notes not only about AIR (which I will post since they are required reading for a class I'm teaching), but on notes from a conference on Informatics a week earlier. Blogging, as a practice, tends for many people to be off the cuff, and the values of timeliness that apply to journalists everywhere apply even moreso to bloggers; we operate on a 30 minute news cycle. I think it's fair to assume that under those conditions, most people won't post-post the conference.
Thinking about my own experiences I guess Alex is right: time is crucial. Being able to blog real-time (even almost real-time: no wifi, but connection during breaks) changes my motivation to write, adding a flavour of instant gratification of "serving the world" with current news that makes me writing a bit more, a bit better and investing in finishing posts.
It's different when I can't post. I still make notes, but do not spend time making them into something more or less finished, they pile up, I hope to work them out later, but it doesn't happen often. I guess there are two reasons:
- When "instant gratification" is not there it's about discipline it takes to finish notes (of course if there are no other "drivers" as Alex' example of his blog posts as required reading for a class).
- It's also about making an effort of delaying new things that come and wait for your attention. Like now, I feel like finishing and posting my notes from AOIR, but there are other things to do, so I'll be lucky if I manage to write an overview of most important things (fingers crossed: if it doesn't happen within next few days the time is lost).
There is another aspect of being able to blog. For me blogging is as much about releasing ideas from my brain as about reporting interesting news to others. I blog bits and pieces of ideas to get rid of them on the path to what I want/need/have to do in the moment.
For example, now I really want to work on a paper on personal KM, but I have all these ideas about time, weblog research and corporate blogging on the way. I don't want to lose them and I can't switch to something else when they are still on my mental radar (so much that I woke up with ideas for blog posts :), so I'm blogging instead of working on the paper. In this case blogging is pretty much similar to filing things into 43 folders (see also: Getting Things Done) so they get out of your way :)
This post also appears on channels BlogWalk and AOIR