There’s actually something else I want to say about this “why I blog” thing. Blogging and podcasting have something really useful buried within them. They’re about ‘dialogue’ and dialogue is a (perhaps the) great tool for unlocking creativity.
When I blog or create a podcast, I’m initiating a dialogue on a couple of levels.
I’m conducting a dialogue with myself, usually with the motivation of understanding better what I think, what I’ve been doing, who I am, who all the people around me are. Regardless of whether anyone else reads/hears/sees what I’ve written/said/erm…y’know video’d, the process of deciding what to say, saying it and reflecting on what’s said has a great value in it for me as a personal knowledge management activity (let alone the emotional or spiritual benefit) – I know better what I know. Importantly, but often forgotten, I’m talking to myself in the future – tomorrow, next week, next year, on my deathbed (btw hopefully that’s way after next year) and I give myself the opportunity to commune with myself in the past to think about what I was thinking then to talk about it, and if I’m brave let it go, let it die so that I can give life to what I think today.
More obviously, I’m conducting an asynchronous persistent dialogue with a self-selecting, global group of people (blimey, now I know why I feel tired after a hard day’s bloggin).
Why is asynchronous important? Well, there’s a difference between a conversation I have face to face with someone and this, where I leave a message for others to find. I don’t get immediate feedback (which can alter what I’m saying as I say it) When I do get feedback, it is usually in the same asynchronous form (except when I meet readers/listeners face to face). This gives us both the chance to step back from the subject-matter, from the message, and to think about it before responding…or not.
Persistent – this stuff stays around, we can pick up the dialogue at any time, because all the bits are still there (Murphy willing) and interlinked. They can accumulate interest and value over time just by sitting there.
Self-selecting? You choose to listen to me or to see my words pop up on your screen. I don’t choose you. I try to encourage you to continue to look at my messages by what I write or say or how I say it. I invite you to engage with me, sometimes provocatively, but the decision rests with you. And if you’re like me, the decision is rarely explicit. And there are no criteria for membership of this group, except the willingness to accept my bitstream in some form.
Global? Well duh! Here though there are some barriers to engagement. No internet connection? Makes it difficult. Can’t read English? Difficult. Your government thinks I’m a dangerous radical lunatic? Unlikely but understandable – and it would make it difficult. Nonetheless, I have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with a hugely diverse range of people – this helps my thinking grow and be richer than was ever possible before – people who say I’m wrong, or who point out the cultural assumptions that I’m making nourish me just as much as those who smile and say “Yes! You’re right.”
Then there are the different dimensions to the contact or engagement. You read my post. How do you react? Regardless of whether you explicitly, consciously react or not, you are in some way changed by reading it. Perhaps this is the post that makes you decide to unsubscribe and never go to Perfect Path again. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about English people. Maybe it adds to your prejudices about Welsh people (not realising that I’m not Welsh). Maybe it stops you from taking another bite of that sausage roll. Maybe the words just crawl across your retina and are instantly forgotten, on to the next post. A hugely complex range of reactions – the sum of your experience and mine, touching for a few moments.
What is unusual about this engagement is that you hearing me has no direct and immediate effect on me until you respond. And I have absolutely no control or influence over how you react, I don’t know how you’ll react and neither do you. However, all of these reactions are part of the dialogue – they will influence how you respond, whether you do it by posting a comment or mentioning, when we meet, in twenty years time, that you found it very difficult to understand what I was going on about on 30th June 2005.
The fundamental point here is that dialogue is a creative act and that the act of creation is near-impossible without dialogue. Individuals and organisations need access to their creativity. Whatever business you’re in, you need to be thinking of new ways to do things, different things to do, to be constantly asking: Who are we? Why are we still here? What do we do? Who are we? And if that’s whe we are, what choices are we making today about who we’re going to be tomorrow?
These activities, blogging, podcasting, videoblogging are all ways of asking those questions and getting the answers, whether you’re 1 person or 1,000,000.