Ryan Armstrong
Change management. Learning. Maps.

Blogging as curation and the end of blogger's block

20 June 2019

It’s been years since I’ve blogged regularly. My last blog was called Spain, Of Course! written about (surprise!) Spain from the perspective of a newly landed Oklahoman in Madrid. It was easy to write back then, maybe because everything was new and fascinating to me and I didn’t yet have the constant feeling that probably someone else had already made the same observations but worded them better.

Since that blog, effectively ended in 2010, I have journaled extensively, but my blogging has ceased for all practical purposes. By all accounts, I am suffering from Blogger’s Block: the inability to blog.

What happened? Maybe the experience of academic publishing has since taken some of the wind out of my sails. Maybe I didn’t want to contribute to information overload, as if blogging would cause someone to anxiously check my website for updates and end up jobless and homeless.

Regardless, the Blog page remains on my website. Now, inspired by Mark Carrigan’s Social Media for Academics and this related post, I set out to begin anew, to find my post-Ph.D. voice, and to say things publicly, for my future self if for no one else.

Two ideas from Carrigan’s book stood out to me for getting things going: Blogging as curation and blogging as constituting ideas. I’ll deal with Blogging as Curation because I had never heard of it. A quick google revealed the significance of my ignorance. Turns out blogging as curation is a great way to engage with people. OMG duh Ryan why did you not know this, were my exact thoughts upon reading it.

Blogging as curation:

What is it?

From Social Media for Academics:

“From the early days of blogging, the tendency of bloggers to filter the vastness of the web by selecting and presenting items they’ve found interesting has been a crucial driver of their popularity” 1

Curating is just that. You enter into the vastness of the web, you find something that interests you, and you share it, possibly with some commentary.

Why is it useful?

These are the reasons that struck me from reading Social Media for Academics. Carrigan has a much more complete consideration in his book and you should probably read it. With that said, below is my attempt at curation. These are the elements of curation that struck me as especially relevant:

  1. As organized information for other people
  2. Curation goes beyond aggregation, in that the curator organizes the information for a reader. So someone could benefit from your insight on the resource you curate, and from the way you organize it, or from the way your comments inspire people to read it.
  3. As information management for you
  4. See also 7 ways to use a blog as a research journal. I've had a research journal since beginning my Ph.D., which was actually my general journal, but with more 'academic' things in it. The value of having a snapshot of thoughts to refer back to is hard to overstate, but from a research productivity standpoint, it is a great way for creating an audit trail and establishing trustworthiness.
  5. As networking
  6. My friend and former classmate Cristian is a MASTER curator. He constantly posts articles with a line or two of his observations. Sometimes all they get is a like or two, but often they inspire a substantial amount of conversation from his network. I love it because it allows me to maintain contact with him even though we work on different continents.
  7. As a productivity booster
  8. This is the selfish take, maybe, but forcing myself to get something out there that somebody else might possibly maybe someday read can serve as an attention focusing tool, so long as I don't end up writing about something I didn't intend to (posts about blogging about curation could be included in that category, I suppose).

Will it be the end of my blogger’s block? Maybe.

Footnotes:

  1. Carrigan, Mark. 2016. Social Media for Academics. Sage, London, pp. 88 ↩︎