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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Time Spent on Blogging

A frequent question I get at the end of any presentation on eLearning 2.0 is how much time I spend on blog reading and writing and how anyone can work that into their already too busy life. I also got a form of this among the questions from the grad student (I'm slowly working through these.)

Some quick thoughts -

Scanning Activity Replaced

I likely spend an average of 30-45 minutes per day reading/writing that is part of what I call "scanning" which is staying up to speed on what's going on. Realize this is high, but much of my professional work is staying up to speed.

Blog reading and writing as part of scanning has been a replacement of other activities that I used to do - reading magazines and books. Originally, I didn't plan to replace these activities as I considered the information from blogs to be quite different. However, I've found that I'm not nearly as willing to read through a magazine, book or newspaper in depth because they don't seem nearly as meaningful or targeted as blog posts. Most of my free subscriptions have lapsed.

My guess is that most people can relate this to the experience of sitting in a large conference session with a not so great speaker thinking - "I could have got more value by searching the topic on Google and reading about it than sitting here for an hour." The same feeling starts to happen when you read blogs and then go and read magazines. A magazine generally has very superficial content, slightly off target for your needs, and is really pretty dang poor compared to blog posts. Of course, a lot of blog posts you skip very quickly. Scanning really becomes scanning. But after you've done really fast scans on blogs to find the interesting nuggets, you quickly find yourself flipping through the magazine and maybe finding one article that's worth reading at any level of depth - maybe.

Except for last month's T+D article on Blogging for Learning and Networking of course. ;)

Natural Part of Knowledge Work

I've found that I've also adopted a practice of blogging as a natural part of my knowledge work. When I'm doing some research on a topic as part of a project, as I think through the problem, find solutions, etc., it is quite natural to blog these things. This is separate from scanning as described above. And again, it's a replacement for other forms of note-taking. I still take lots of electronic notes, but as I formulate more specific ideas, I definitely use the blog as a sounding board.

In terms of time, I'm pretty sure that this has been a replacement that doesn't cost me time and sometimes saves me a lot of time via great feedback. In other words, I likely would have spent this time anyhow on that task, it's just that I keep this information stored in a new way.

A recent post talks about exactly this issue and suggests blogging your brainstorms, your R&D, your initial discoveries.

I'd add to that post - blog your questions.

Suggestion for Starting Out

I normally suggest that people start small and try to commit an hour a week to scanning - reading and writing about things in parts of the field that interest them. That's more of a way to get used to the blog itself.

Likely the more powerful effect comes when you are assigned a research task and you use the blog as part of that task.

Other posts to check out:


Unknown said...

Thanks, Tony! I particularly like your suggestion about blogging questions. One thing I'm noticing about replacing professional journals with blogs, etc., it that it places a much greater burden on the reader to evaluate the credibility of the source. When you read something that has been published, I think we tend to assume that a certain level of review has taken place. Obviously that's not the case with blog posts, wikis, etc. I wonder how many people think about that?

Tony Karrer said...

Good point that the burden has increased on evaluating the content credibility. I would claim that it was always there - even with peer-reviewed publications. However, with most publications and most peer-reviewed articles there can be a greater sense of some level of credibility. With a blog, you have a much harder time evaluating that. Especially when you randomly find one through search.

David Bailey said...

Hi Tony, really enjoyed this post. I am new to blogging (6 yrs late I know) and its certainly taking up more of my time than I expected. It gets easier though right?

Tony Karrer said...

David - it does get easier as you go as you build systems, but if you do it right, it still takes time. You put yourself in a continuous learning / conversation mode. But, the value is high.