Hello, especially to those of you that have never created a blog before or are experiencing blog anxiety. If you are a practiced expert blogger I take my hat off to you and thank you for your contributions whether you are writing for pleasure, business or academic purposes.
My name is Sharon Seals and I am a Post Graduate student at City, University of London. I am excited to be joining the university and starting my MSc course in Information Science. I attended the Introduction session for my course last week and, after a long and enjoyable Freshers’ week, I finally got to meet my fellow students and the course director Lyn Robinson.
My excitement momentarily turned in to horror as I heard Lyn say the words “I want you to set up a blog account and write a blog in relation to Digital Information Technologies and Architectures”. It is not that I am against the concept, far from it. I appreciate how important it is for Library & Information Professionals (LIPs) to have a voice, especially in today’s competitive environment. LinkedIn and Twitter are bursting with LIPs micro-blogging and providing links to blogs showcasing their skills and demonstrating a willingness to share knowledge. If I were recruiting or had an interest in their services I would certainly find this transparency advantageous.
I reflected for a while on why it seemed like such a daunting task given my thoughts on the subject. I concluded that there are three main reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable in a professional capacity. Once my opinions were made public I was open to the dreaded ‘what will people think’ syndrome. Tweeting a few words or photographs in bite-sized chunks seemed okay but anything more than that was intimidating. This revelation shocked me given that I am in the business of helping organizations gain a competitive advantage by working with information and sharing knowledge. At that moment I decided that it was time to reach beyond my personal fears and think about what I could contribute to the people reading the blog.
My second observation was that I didn’t feel like enough of an expert in any given area to voice an opinion to such a wide audience. When I was growing up there was no Internet or mobile phone culture so in my mind people who ‘publish’ are experts and I simply did not see myself as a curator or a publisher. The world has changed though and as I write this that I can clearly see that my old belief system is outdated. I learn valuable lessons on a daily basis from people on the Internet whether it is from a TED lecturer talking about a topic of interest or a teenager in their bedroom across the globe showing me how to contour my cheeks using bronzer and a make-up brush.
With my new found enthusiasm I decided to use WordPress.com to create a profile. This is where my third concern became apparent. I didn’t know where to start or even what to call my blog. Ironically, some helpful people out there have written useful blogs on the subject! This is one from Blogclarity, which I found particularly helpful http://www.blogclarity.com/the-guide-to-choosing-a-blog-name-you-wont-regret-part-1/.
Melissa Culbertson talks about starting with your blog topics and then branching out using associated words to widen the net. Then, highlight the words that you like and cross out words that you don’t want to use. She goes on to explain that the tone is important and the name should reflect the mood that you are trying to create. Considering your target audience is fundamental and researching blogs that you like is another valuable pointer. Start writing down blog name ideas without restriction, even if they suck, then whittle your ideas down to a short list until you find the right one. Melissa acknowledges that this is not the only way to find a name for your blog; this is just one way you could approach the process.
Once I got over these initial barriers and made a start on the naming process I was half way there. LIPs consistently deal with technology, people and processes. Collectively, that generates a huge amount of knowledge. By sharing with each other we can continue to learn, grow and innovate.
Now that I am up and running I look forward to sharing my reflections with you from the course and learning more about Digital Information & Architectures along the way.
Thank you for taking the time to read “Your first blog needn’t be a slog!’. If you are just starting out too I wish you luck and I hope that you enjoy the process.