Reclaiming reflective space

[Summary: Reflecting on reflecting.]

I’ve been blogging far less that I’d like to here over recent months. I’ve been thinking about why that is:

Firstly, the focus of my interests and work since I started writing here regularly have been on quite a journey. I started out with a focus writing on participation and youth engagement; I’ve written a lot on digital media and youth engagement; on fair trade and social issue campaigning; on social reporting and digital dimensions of local democracy; and over the last 18-months on open government data. Right now I’m spending most of my working time exploring open data and linked data in the world of international development, although I’m still involved in projects on all the other themes above. For me, there are connections between all these different issues – reasons I’m spending time exploring them – yet, to most people, I’m sure they don’t really make up a coherent set. So I’ve been self-editing before starting to write posts – worrying that they won’t be of relevance to people still signed up to get e-mail alerts whenever I post anything here.

Secondly, things have been busy. Really busy. Time spent writing reflective blog posts can feel like a luxury. It used to be something I could see as part of a mornings work, but a lot of the project I’ve been working on recently have been based on a set number of days, rather than on tasks, which changes the decision about spending an hour in the morning or afternoon on reflective writing.

Thirdly, I have been writing, just elsewhere and project-specific. I’ve been blogging for the Making a Difference with Data Blog, and on my Open Data Impacts blog. I’ve been trying to contribute to the Youth Work Online shared blog regularly, and I’ve been working on a number of papers that may become blog posts at some point in the future. But for some reason I’ve not been blogging here.

Fourth, I’ve been tweeting. Twitter provides a great space to capture and share insights and ideas day-to-day – and I’ve certainly been benefiting from the ideas, links and resources others share. But it does lack the sort of reflective canvas that blogging can provide, and tweets exist in a stream of context – whereas a blog post can capture and archive more complete thoughts, albeit often provisional ones.

Fifth, I’m aware that when I post something here, Feedburner kicks in and e-mails it to around 100 people who subscribe to this blog by e-mail, and a number of other people get alerts about posts via Twitter or through RSS readers. That can make posting something a little daunting, both for reflective posts like this and for quick announcements of things – as it’s never my intention to clog up your inboxes (particularly as I know my posts get a bit verbose and ponderous on times…).

Sixth, I’ve been frustrated with the design of this blog. I’ve tried a number of routes to a better design – but not found anything that works for me. I’ve been a bit ashamed of how the blog itself looks.

Ok. I think I understand a bit more of why I’ve not been blogging here so much. I’m hoping that taking the time to write down those reasons, and reflecting on them, will help me to reclaim blogging as essential reflective practice.

Rather than having too much on to find time to blog, there’s too much going on not to. In the past I’ve found blogging to be an essential part of making sense of what I’m working on – and I’m in need of that sense-making on a few projects right now. Rather than worrying that the different topics I’m exploring make for a disjointed feed of posts, personal blogging provides a space to reflect on those different threads, to explore them as distinct interests, and to explore where they come together. For all the things that don’t fit into any of the other spaces I’m writing in, or that I want to archive as part of my thinking, this blog can provide a space to put things. Readers always have the option to unsubscribe. The design: well, I’ll just have to put up with it.

So:

  • I’m going to try and return to keeping this blog as a space for reflective practice. There will still be announcements of things, and content that I want to share somewhere, but I make no promises as to the relevance of things posted here to topics that have gone before.
  • If you subscribe by RSS or e-mail, I won’t be offended if you don’t want to anymore. I know there are a lot of people interested in participation and youth-work on the e-mail subscribers list who might find reflections on the intricacies of linked data somewhat outside their area of interest, and vice-versa.
  • I’d off to spend some time reflective writing on topics other than reflection…

3 thoughts on “Reclaiming reflective space

  1. maire evans

    Nice post – and one that does very much reclaim your reflective space. It’s difficult to know how to make the subject matter of blog posts discrete when you are doing so much. I have the same problem, but then I reckon Leonardo Da Vinci might have as well, with his various areas of interest and expertise – so just go for it.:-)

  2. Hilary

    Hi Tim

    Great post and really refelctive. I’ve always been amazed at how you’ve been able to keep doing so much work AND keep your blog going, especially as I’ve not managed to do that. It’s great to see that you’re going to set some time aside again.

    I really wouldn’t worry about readers, they will make their choices anyway. For example, as someone who isn’t operating around Open Data I usually browse through your blog and pick up areas of interest (of which there’s usually many) and overlook those that aren’t. The great bit about Social Media is that your ‘audience’ get to make choices!

    re your design, have to admit I liked the old one better but then, it’s what works for you and what you like really

    So – here’s to more reading as and when. I know that your enthusiasm and passions will continue to shine through in your blog.

    All the best
    Hilary

  3. Nick Morgan

    “Rather than having too much on to find time to blog, there‚Äôs too much going on *not to*.”

    That’s a really good philosophy, and one that I should try to follow. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>