An unexpected milestone crept up on me this morning: i hit 100,000 views on the blog. Depending how you look at it, that’s a surprisingly high, or surprisingly low number. When i started writing this blog, around three and a half years ago, the traffic was precisely nothing. It took a good few weeks before anyone visited and when the first person subscribed. I was terrified. Suddenly i had an audience (although it was still around three months before Google noticed i existed and sent their first referral).
Today is the eight hundred and twelfth post. Don’t hold your breath: it may not be the best.
I haven’t done an exact count, but i’m somewhere close to half a million words in. Some of those words i’ve used more than once.
I write about learning, but with a somewhat relaxed frame: regular visitor (of whom there seem to be a few) will see the themes, all clustered around what we’ve come to call The Social Age. I love exploring technology (with sub themes more recently of ‘social collaborative technology‘) as well as the communities that it facilitates (we’ve explored many themes in these areas, around how communities form and the purposes they serve). I’ve write widely around Social Learning and Leadership, Learning Methodology, Culture and Change, although my grammar is still fluid enough to allow me to capitalise them all without breaking a sweat.
Selfish as it may seem, i write for myself: the minute i try to cater for a particular audience, i freeze. I respond to every comment or question immediately: if people are kind enough to engage, why wouldn’t i? It helps me no end. In all the time i’ve written, i’ve weirdly only had one hostile comment. People are generally incredibly kind in these communities. Kind with their time and their feedback.
Occasionally i indulge in pet areas: you may have seen that i chose to celebrate my 750th post by writing about equality. Why? Because it’s too important to ignore, but on the whole things generally come back to learning and the culture we inhabit.
I travel extensively, which has permeated my writing: books from Amsterdam, Singapore and New York are already out there with my most recent writing on San Francisco in progress. Why? Because it’s part of my exploratory process, part of how i make sense of things i guess. As a stranger living in Amsterdam, it made sense to write about culture: how it forms, how it responds to change. In Singapore, a long way from home, i wrote about ‘learning, knowledge and meaning‘ as i reflected on how we make sense of the world around us.
The blog is my first reflective space: the term that has come to mean it’s where i do my thinking, out loud (it’s connected me to people like John Stepper, whose thinking about #WorkingOutLoud has influenced me). The blog is rapidly reflective, books more deeply so (when i’m working on a book, i tend to take myself away somewhere to immerse myself in if for a few weeks. With the blog, i write on the train or in cafes).
The ideas that emerge are iterative: if you look at the Social Leadership work, there are probably fifteen or twenty articles i’ve written as my understanding built, then a dozen or so specific pieces exploring each dimension.
One of the biggest changes to my approach was to start drawing, only around 18 months ago, but it transformed both my writing, thinking and effectiveness. I have no doubt that i can communicate far more effectively with both pen and paint than i can with words alone.
The community has also come to influence me greatly: whilst i can never predict what will generate great interest and what will go quietly unnoticed, the feedback i receive is immense (although also the growing pressure i feel to write something of value). I feel less able to just kick something out these days, although i deliberately do just that now and then to prove that i can, writing something that’s important to me whether or not i think it will stick.
Periodically you’ll see a recurring series of articles on ‘Words about Learning‘, which are two paragraph ditties around something that caught my eye. Often i use these when i’m on holiday or wanting to write something fast, but i suspect there are some small truths hidden within them.
I’ve learnt to tell stories: we are at our most effective as communicators when we share a little bit of ourselves.
I never write in advance: when i started, i thought i’d write and save twenty posts to stick up when i was too busy. By day two that went out of the window. I write, i post and that’s that. I try to do it first thing, before i do anything else, although that occasionally goes out of the window.
The iterative nature of writing and keeping on top of my fear of saying something boring keeps me agile: it prompts me to question, to explore, to revisit and revise my own thinking and, when needed, to adapt it.
Our ability to change, to reflect and grow is a core skill of the Social Age.