Don’t Blog – Pick up the Phone!

telephone.jpgI think that blogging has the potential of falling into the same sticky territory as email does with misinterpretation. Often, when one is passionate (frustrated, angry, disappointed, excited…) about a topic, it is advisable to pick up the telephone and talk to the person rather than email them. As we all know, tone is often not readily apparent and subject to interpretation. Body language is non-existant. And, the opportunity to question/clarify one’s position is seriously delayed.

What made me think about this was all of the hot discussion going on surrounding the Vision of Students video by Mike Wesch. Gary Stager offered his take, others rebutted or supported it, and, as the discussion continues (which is great), Mike Wesch finally has the opportunity to respond and clarify things. It just seems to me that the medium of blogging has stirred up a whole lot of dust for nothing here. Had Mike and Gary just picked up the phone and had a good old synchronous discussion, things may have not transpired as they did. And, I don’t really see any new ideas come out of the discussion, as was part of Gary’s criticism of the video, too.

I think sometimes in the medium of blogging, we are trying too hard to defend or justify our positions simply because of the limitations of the medium. And, at times it feels (to me) like the professional bloggers are circling like vultures, ready to show their stuff.

Anyway, I am just venting a little here. Disclaimer: I am NOT against blogging nor stimulating discussions that blog entries may generate. [I put this in here in case you blogging vultures are hungry :-)] I do love the following statement from Mike’s clarification:

“But while teaching has not changed, learning has. Students are learning to read, navigate, and create within a digital information environment that we scarcely address in the classroom. The great myth is that these “digital natives” know more about this new information environment than we do. But here’s the reality: they may be experts in entertaining themselves online, but they know almost nothing about educating themselves online.”

He goes on to write that they may be digitally saavy, but are still naiive learners and that learning has become perhaps more complex in this highly interactive and connected digital age. I would agree. As Mike writes, our challenge has always been to make learning relevant, to inspire our students, to help them question and wrestle with information, to evaluate, to produce, to become active contributors rather than passive, half-present and highly distracted bodies filling seats. I don’t think the good ‘ol stand-and-deliver lecture can achieve this as well any more… even with PowerPoint! Disclaimer: I am not saying that lectures are worthless or are never the best choice of pedagogy. Our world is highly connected and wired (or wireless). Students are looking for a new degree of relevancy and purpose – new opportunities to express, create, produce, contribute… Let us just not put these desires ahead of being learners who seek truth, who think critically and hard, who evaluate at high levels, who produce more than just eye candy, and who make meaning that is not so relativistic or shallow that it is silly.

All this discussion is good, I know. But in the end, I blog for myself. It others are stimulated by my thoughs, I guess that is a great by-product. If others think that I am silly or wrong, that’s fine, too. I wouldn’t expect otherwise. But the minute that I begin blogging to impress the blogosphere, I’m done. And, I should still use the telephone where appropriate. Disclaimer: Don’t take all of this too seriously.

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10 Comments on “Don’t Blog – Pick up the Phone!”


  1. I think it’s important to note that Mike Wesch had the opportunity to join the discussion all along. I would like to think that he would understand that producing and posting a video out there would receive a reaction of some sort. Otherwise, he shouldn’t put it out there.

    On your point about blogging… I am confused about whether you are saying that Gary Stager was blogging to impress the blogosphere in regards to this video. In conversations with Gary, I have learned that he feels the very same as you, if gets to that point, he’s out. I’m wondering in what capacity we, as connected individuals, might accomplish through raising awareness and educating those around us through our blogs (or other websites).

  2. Steve Ransom Says:

    Brian, I guess I was getting at the idea that when things get a little too personal or heated in the blogosphere, I find that some folks are working too hard at writing for an audience instead of for their own interest in a discussion. Too many blogs, as others have noted, have lost their capacity for true discussion – especially those ‘high profile’ blogs. They may have a large following/readership and a number of comments to every post, but there is no true discussion going on. What I meant by Gary Stager’s comments on this topic is that they were harsh (and I am in agreement with his perspective on this), but a conversation between the two parties concerned never did ensue. In response, Mike Wesch posted a clarification, which was great. But, in the end, I feel that had he and Gary actually entered in to a dialog instead of simply firing bullets, the conversation would have looked much different. No – there would have actually been a conversation that would have been quite interesting to follow. For now, we must be satisfied with “Fair Enough”.

  3. Tracy Rosen Says:

    here, here (hear, hear?) – in any case, I agree. I can count a handful of really good conversations that i have read or participated in through blog posts lately. In general, I notice comments to be about the original topic but not in response to it – look what I know, look what I can do as opposed to what can I learn from you? How can we think together?

    Steve, how do you think this can be changed? Or does it need to? Do we need norms as edubloggers?

    My belief about blogs is that I post about something I care about, that I need to work through in some cases, with the hopes that others will join in and help me think about it. That is my belief, but not necessarily everyone’s I guess.

    What I do know is that I enjoy and have learned from conversations with other bloggers (you being up there on that list for sure) and have been frustrated in others. Just like in some f2f conversations! The difference here is that when it happens with text, the text stays around as a reminder. It frustrates me to no end when I check in on the blogs I read and see conversations in mid thread that don’t seem to get resolved. I know I have been guilty of doing that in the past as well. I become swept up in some sort of business and the next thing I know I notice a comment from a week or more before on one of my posts. I also feel frustrated when I see a comment list that looks like the one you described above…

    And so I tend to gravitate towards those blogs where I find conversation that is interesting to follow.

  4. Steve Ransom Says:

    Well, we are all guilty of guerilla warfare/hit-and-run commenting at some point, I’m sure. But your experience resonates with me as well. I wonder if once a blogger receives high readership (some might actually call this ‘success’. I think that is the beginning of the end.) if the blog ceases to be a conversation between the author and the audience. More and more it just becomes an often disjunct list of comments or at best, a conversation between those leaving comments – which can be very good. I am certain that there are many bloggers just trying to figure out what to do with the blog that they have started. Or, their blog represents efforts to keep up with technology rather than out of personal conviction. I started this blog if you go back and read my initial entry with a great deal of uncertainty. We all have to begin somewhere. However, it has grown into something I really do enjoy and benefit from – even if I have no readership. However, conversations like this one are the icing on the cake, for sure. Thanks for helping me think things through! I always gain something from your comments.

  5. Chris Yarger Says:

    Throwing a bone to the vultures.

    But the purpose of blogging has always been different than that of the telephone. They aren’t really comparable. Telephones in the beginning were used to set up meetings, as is shown on reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, Andy would pick up the phone and (after some small talk with the operator) confirm a meeting place with a friend for later in the day. Telephone conversations are more like e-mails than webblogs. quick little heads up notes, personal conversations, and talking to friends whom you don’t normally see; that’s what they’re good for.

    Webblogs, I feel, are more like Ancient Greek forums. It’s a place where the great thinkers (and sometimes the not so great) meet to discuss ideas about the world they live in and all the happenings of the time. Webblogs are a place, like the forums, where emotion is left out and logic prevails; a Socratic life of sorts. We can see based on your points of view where your emotions and feelings lay on subjects, unless of course you are just plaing devil’s advocate, but then if you do that, it’s probably not your webblog anyway.

    I know you understand this based on the first couple paragraphs, but maybe it’s just as simple as the vultures not knowing.

  6. Steve Ransom Says:

    Hammer… nail…hit… on head.

    Or, perhaps it is sometimes letting emotions run ahead of productive discourse. This is a big mistake via email and when this is the case, I am suggesting to leave the comments off of the blog and pick up the telephone. Although one can leave a comment and then hang up the phone (not entirely uncommon), it is less likely when the speed of response makes conversation more efficient and perhaps productive in such circumstances.

    Great comment, Chris. Thanks.

  7. Tracy Rosen Says:

    “Webblogs are a place, like the forums, where emotion is left out and logic prevails;”

    Not entirely comfortable with this. My blog is called leading from the heart, what I do is from the heart and I am passionate about what I write and comment on.

    I think that any media focusing on either logic OR emotion – either head OR heart – is 1/2 of a good thing at best.

    Perhaps I misunderstand and what you mean is that ANY time we allow our egos to take control of our emotional response we will end up with disconnected ramblings? And that some people are allowing this to happen as they post and comment on their blogs?

  8. Steve Ransom Says:

    Yes, that is what I was getting at. I would agree that emotion is an important part in how you describe it. Passion, conviction, intuition, disappointment, … all good things in human discourse. It is just, as you put it so well, when our egos get in the way of productive discourse that things degrade… in the blogosphere or anywhere else. Thanks for the clarification on that.

  9. Idetrorce Says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  10. Stephen Ransom Says:

    Idetrorce, why not? This is a discussion forum. Comments such as yours don’t contribute much to the discussion. I would be interested in finding out the specifics of your disagreement.
    For everyone else’s information, this commentator appears to be a spam bot. You can read more about him/her here


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