Monday, May 9, 2011

Reflections on "Why do I blog?"

Fresh from a very invigorating SGIM (Society of General Internal Medicine) meeting, waiting at the Phoenix airport for my flight back gave me some time to reflect.

One of the workshops some colleagues and I have conducted for the past 2 sessions is on "Web 2.0 in Medical Education".  We try to do some needs assessment prior to the workshop and there has generally been more interest in learning about Wikis (as opposed to blogs).  This year this trend continued but I was struck by how many people approached me for help in setting up their first blog.  These are very bright, thoughtful, creative physicians and educators and thought leaders who have been prolific writers in the print literature.  But somehow have been hesitant to take the plunge into the blogosphere.

As I helped them create their Google accounts and create their first blog I could sense their excitement and got me wondering what their reason was for blogging.

After I had helped then get started, that evening lying on my hotel bed I wondered, "Why do I blog?"  I know I got started as a matter of curiosity, to understand what a blog is and to explore how it could be useful in education.  I have now been blogging for many years.  It has somehow become a self-sustaining activity.  So what keeps me going?

  1. Reflection:  I find that as I force myself to write, I get more clarity in my thoughts.  I often realize a new meaning for a subject or topic that I had understood more superficially.  Often when I go back and read an old post, I am surprised to see how clearly I had understood something even for a brief window of time.  
  2. It is a great way to share my thoughts.  More and more frequently, when asked a question about technology or just during a discussion, I find myself saying, "I blogged on that" and then getting asked to share a hyperlink to the blog post.
  3. It serves as a portfolio for an area of expertise that does not have degrees or diplomas. It says in a unique manner that I am constantly trying to learn and apply what I learn.
  4. While somewhat scary, it has been very instructive to open myself up to anonymous comments by posting on the web.  People are not generally "mean" and when I have been "attacked" it is because I had unknowingly offended someone or some group.  Reading the comments has helped me to understand another view point and learn more.  While these are not fun interactions, looking back I can honestly say, they were very educational.  
  5. I don't think I blog because it helps me write.  I don't know if I am writing any better now then when I started.  I don't think I blog because I have a thousand followers who need a daily dose of my writing.  It is definitely not a revenue source.  
  6. I think one key reason why I blog is because it has become a habit.  When I get a new idea or read something that interests me and I explore it further and discover a new personal meaning about that something, I automatically turn to my blog to write it down before I lose that meaning or idea.  
  7. Most of all, I enjoy blogging, it is fun and it is not a chore.  I do it for myself as writing it and reading it helps me learn something about my thoughts, it gives me an insight into myself, it is like meditating.