Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Benefits of Online Writing

I've been thinking about online habits of students and as such reflecting on my own, and I had the rather obvious realization that being online, entering the world of blogs and Web 2.0 has once again made me a writer.  Yes, I would write the occasional paper or reflection for school, but I'm actually writing again, thanks to this blog and other online places, in the same way we want to teach and have our students writing.  They write every day, list things they want to write about, and keep practicing.  In the past, outside of the classroom, writing was often something I would do in utter privacy, in the locked pages of a journal or saved in some deep dark folder on my hard drive.  

Something about the casual nature of blogging allows me to just write, less concerned about what people are thinking.  Blogging can be almost like a stream of consciousness, perhaps on one specific field (like educational technology) or on your whole life.  It gives us a sort of freedom that is lost in an endless stream of assigned topics and required papers.  And maybe too, something about the anonymity of the Internet, even when people I know are reading it as well, is freeing.  

But the best thing about blogging, I think, is that it is not just a platform for writing, but one for discussion, with the comment sections often becoming the most interesting aspect of the entire thread.  Personally, I put more thought into written word than in conversation, the slower pace allowing me to check a citation or fact, or even at times going into several layers of research before composing an answer.  Never before in our history has there been a platform for discussion like that (pre-Internet) - handwritten letters are slow, in-person and telephone conversations are quick, leaving less time for reflection and thought.  Even emails are generally between two or a small group of people and generally have a different purpose.

It's nice to write again.  Maybe I'll get to that book someday. ;)


  1. I've totally lost track of time reading your blog, this is wonderful. I'm going to get out of the way and let your online community do most of the commenting here! Now back to looking at all of your classmates blogs...

  2. One meets so many interesting people on these blogs! I wish I were young enough to be one of your classmates, but I'll do my best to keep up with your energetic world ;) Now, does this ;) take a period after it? I'm trying to learn the iLingo. I've been so iShamed of my inability to warm up to the iPhone. But seriously, Hilary, this is a great blog. Salve, for now.

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  4. Wow, you're getting an audience... nice. So many people toy with the idea of blogging, write 2 posts, then abandon it; they don't understand the brief format and need for frequency over profundity. You've exactly captured what it's about, though: kudos.

  5. Thanks all!

    I don't have an iPhone either Blue Guy - an old-style flip phone. It serves its purpose.

    With little to no cell service up here, and the extortionate current cost of the iPhone, I'll hold off on it. I still prefer the old fashioned keyboard, anyway.

    And Hugh - ever heard of slow blogging?

  6. Hey Hillary,

    I'm sure you've gotten the link, but I just wanted to make sure you saw Kathleen Blake Yancey's new report from NCTE titled "Writing in the 21st Century." I love how she talks about lifelong writing. Enjoy!