A Little b Blogger

Jeff Nugent, now Director of Learning and Applied Innovation at Colgate University, used to talk to Bud Deihl and I over coffee about synchronicity, noting that themes…particularly on the web…seemed to surface at the same time.  The one for me this week was “little b blogging.”  Cogdog started it off for me, noting that “…after 15 years of cogdogblogging there’s nothing like the smell of a blog post about blogging in the morning.”  Word!

This quote was in his post “The Little “b” and the Big “C”.  He was prompted by Jim Groom’s “blogging,” who in turn was prompted by Tom Critchlow’s “Small b blogging.”  So let’s start with Critchlow’s post. Tom gave a couple of examples of posts he had done in the past that led to podcasts or newsletter invites.  Tom noted:

“…What’s going on here? I call it small b blogging. It’s a virtuous cycle of making interesting connections while also being a way to clarify and strengthen my own ideas. I’m not reaching a big audience by any measure but the direct impact and benefit is material.”

He went on to describe how, as the web has evolved and grown, every community has fragmented into lots of mini-communities that overlap “in weird and wonderful ways.”  The consequence is that “…the natural consequence of these fragmented audiences is that getting some traction with one or more of these smaller entry points is easier than it ever was…So, getting a post read by “everyone” is harder than ever but reaching hundreds or low thousands of audience has never been easier.” Tom suggested that if we try to write for everyone, we actually write for no one.

Jim Groom expanded on this point.  He noted that “…we have become enthralled by sheer numbers and scale and volume has become the only thing truly valued by networks like YouTube (“How many subscribers? How many views?”), Twitter (“How many followers?”), and Facebook/Instagram (“How many likes?”). It’s a race to the bottom.” His best line:

“…Blogging provides a space to develop an online voice, connect with a particular network, and build a sense of identity online in conjunction with others working through a similar process.”

Cogdog reminds us in his post that while blogging helps one develop their online voice, it also is a way to clarify and strengthen one’s own ideas.  This has always been central to why I blog.  I do not have the readership of the Alan Levine’s or Jim Groom’s…but the reader that is most important is “me.”  I have always loved this 90 second clip from a panel Seth Godin and Tom Peters did on why one should blog (and it is required reading in some of my classes…):

Of course, I was reminded of this clip not only by the little b blogging posts, but a tweet from Tom Peters yesterday

Peters in The Excellence Dividend noted that he started blogging in 2004 (and tweeting 8 years later) and suggested that embracing social media with open arms is a requirement of business today…and by embracing, he means “everyone.”

While Cogdog referred to little b blogging, he reminded us of the flip side of that coin – Big C Commenting!  Appropriately, in a comment on Jim’s post, Alan noted “…I can say without any doubt that the process [of] blogging helps my thinking. Again and again. It’s for me, and maybe a small circle of folks like Aaron and Jim who not only read but comment.”  In his blog post, he noted that commenting is particularly critical for new bloggers.  I like some of his suggestions, such as manageable small groups for student commenting, and his definition of a critical comment:

“…When you comment, show that you are listening. Respond to specific parts of what the author wrote. As a form of acknowledgement, when someone replies specifically to a point, it means they are listening. Do not be the commenter who just uses it as a means to talk about their own stuff.”

A few years back, Enoch Hale and I started a 30-day blogging and commenting challenge to each other as a way to help Enoch jump start this blogging.  Those were probably some of the best posts I have written…but it was the blogging just for the couple of us that made it fun.

So, thank you, Cogdog (and Jim and Tom) for the reminder of the importance of little b blogging!

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