Five years ago, I decided to write one blog post every day. 365 posts later, I knew myself and my world infinitely better. The project led to a great many changes in my life: a new job and a new startup being the biggest. There is so much you can learn by simply making reflective practice a part of your daily life. The one thing that didn’t happen, though, is that I didn’t connect to very many new voices. There were folks who commented on my blog posts, but most of them had been commenting here for years. There were no brand new connections or communities created.
In the last days of 2014, as I was considering doing this again, I realized that this was the biggest shortcoming of my 2010 blogging regimen. I DIDN’T create a community of writers. Essentially, I was blogging selfishly, caring more about my growth than the conversation that could be created if I would have involved others in the process.
I’m going to do better this time.
That is why I am launching #C4C15: Comments for Community in 2015.
Rather than writing a new post every day, though, I will write a comment. Rather than blogging alone, I will blog with each of you. Rather than just talking to the ether, I will create a conversation. I will build something new throughout 2015, a community of writers and learners.
Come with me.
Every single day of 2015 and writing a comment on another blog post, Google+ post, Facebook post, or Twitter conversation (this will have to be at least three exchanges, as I don’t think 140 characters is enough to build community). After writing this comment, I will link to the original post here so that everyone can read along and comment with me. The idea is to use this blog as a kind of travelogue of my voyages around the web.
So that I can keep the process as transparent as possible, here is the full extent of what I am planning to do:
- I will use Nuzzel to find the posts that have the most re-tweets every day. I will use Feedly to curate my favorite blogs. I will use Flipboard, Zite, and Google+ to find articles that are off the beaten path.
- I will use this IFTTT recipe to send all of my favorites to a Google Doc that will have the list of all of the posts I want to comment on.
- I will use the comment feature on the post.
- I will highlight the comment after it is posted and the use the “Press This” bookmarklet to capture it back to this blog.
- I will tag the post with #C4C15 hashtag.
It is my sincere hope that many of you take up this call to make 2015 a Year of Commenting for Community. Please share your adventures on your own blog while using our hashtag. Thank you for being a part of this community. It is going to be a great year of learning.
I love this commitment to creating community and providing thoughtful feedback to those who take the time to share openly. I see you’ll be using Flipboard, Zite, and G+ to find “articles that are off the beaten path”, but I am curious how you’ll do the same for Tweets, blog posts, and other shares that may be a bit “quieter” in nature and won’t show up on Nuzzel or your favorite blogs that you already follow. How/Will you be looking for the educator who is new to blogging and doesn’t have many followers, or the person who shares humbly and isn’t necessarily seen by lots of viewers or using the most popular hashtags, maybe because they don’t know about hashtags yet? I ask for 2 reasons. First, I am always looking for ways to support those who might try their hand at Twitter, blogging, tumblr, or other SM so they can find their voice and their people within a caring community, but it can be tricky to seek out the people who may not be super connected yet. Secondly, I remember just how encouraging it is to receive comments and be pulled into engaging conversation, and how transformative it can be when those people are highly connected educators who you look up to. I know anyone you follow or find in your endeavors this year will be grateful for their conversations with you, but I am hopeful that some of those people will be the teacher who has had an aversion to blogging but tries anyway, or the educator who doesn’t yet know how to find *their* PLN so the new Twitter account they signed up for becomes an integral part of how they learn, share, reflect, and connect. Your ability to immediately level the playing field and remove titles, # of followers, and other statistics so that conversations are truly just about the people and their ideas is pretty powerful, and I suppose I want to see others positively impacted by that in the same way that I have been.
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This is a big worry I have about this prospect. Other than setting up a few Google Alerts to find diamonds in the rough I am also trying to find the long tail of the web in other ways.
Essentially, I am trying to go into every rabbit hole I can find. For example, digging through “blogrolls” and other people’s bookmarks. I am doing lots of filetype:pdf searches (or other non-web-based) files so that I get all of the links burried in dead files on servers around the world. I am also systematically clicking on “links within links” rather than just settling for the initial thing that people share. This ensures that I don’t settle for the insulated community I am trying to avoid. I hope that all makes sense.
Hi Ben! Absolutely love this idea and it’s inline with what we’re trying to create as part of our online community of practice. Would you be keen to talk about adding it to the Reflective Teachef @ TeachThought community? We’re always looking for passionate leaders in ed to join us.
Justine 🙂 @cossie29
Absolutely! Do you have a link that is specifically where I should share it?
Ahh Ben, what a terrific project! I know that I need to read more blogs and to comment more too. I hope I am able to participate!
Following Jessica’s thoughts and your reply, I think that context is important. We ‘say’ that we can converse and collaborate online regardless of where we teach, but that isn’t always what happens. Since most are pressed for time, they may only want to engage with those whose context connects with and/or reflects theirs. This makes sense on one level because we can dive quickly into the issues, but it also encourages the echo chamber effect. Relationships take time to build, especially online where the willingness to go along with a conversation that may not seem personally relevant may stretch our patience.
I have learned that if I share truly what goes on in my classroom, readers are quick to make suggestions about ‘what the problem’ is rather than engage in conversation and discussion. I think, though, if folks take time to think about who is writing the blog, check out the About Me and / or Context pages, then their responses may be different.
By the same token, it takes me a long time to begin to comment on other’s blogs. I want to know enough about them so that my comments are meaningful.
Do you think that context has a role to play in creating this community?
Hi Ben, This is a great idea to build a community that connects conversations — to bring people, ideas, and blogs together through the hashtag. The people that join share their “travelogues.” And each travelogue post through the hashtag is an invitation to extend the conversation with others. Perhaps this will also bring to light the many ideas and suggestions that many people have about education transformation through the use of secondary hashtags about the topics to bring in the “context” of the conversation. As the sharing begins, we’ll see how the neighborhoods grow. Thanks for your leadership. #140WC #ilearnfrom #C4C15
Ben I love this idea! I have only been seriously blogging for about a year, but have since become addicted. I agree with Jessica that it can be difficult to find blogs that may not have a wide readership or many followers. I try to promote anyone I can by retweeting and oftentimes sending their posts to those in my PLN that I think will not only enjoy them, but will also pass them on to others. Have you thought about a Voxer group that could promote blogs? Probably extra work, just a thought. Thanks for taking this on and I look forward to learning with you and many others.
I love your comment idea. Thanks for taking the time to read and provide feedback on my post about 2015 not being all about me. I’m new to blogging and each comment gives me courage and motivation to keep going. Thanks and happy new year!
What a great idea! I get most of the blogs I read from Twitter. I tend to look at #edtech or #blendedlearning as well as language arts-specific tweets. I’m sure as bloggers we have all felt at one time or another that we are throwing our posts into a void where nobody reads them. I’ve pretty much given up on getting comments, but I do concentrate on giving comments when a post interests me. Thanks for visiting my page–your comments were very thoughtful, and I responded to them there.
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Thanks for the comment and for the link back to here. I often do the same — remind myself that I have a certain obligation as a blogger to go forth and comment. I do it most often with the weekly Slice of Life (via Two Writing Teachers) but sometimes, I wander through the blogging stream and read and write. I’ve even been known to “lift lines” from blogs to write a poem …
When this blog became a kind of travelogue
of my voyages,
I built a ship out of words and set my sail
for the uncharted
waters in which so many writers were wading
and soon discovered
maps of every kind, scattered about in the streams,
leading me here
and there and everywhere, to all corners of the Earth
while I read and wrote
from the comfort of my own home, a keyboard
the only anchor of us all.
This is such a cool idea, and I FINALLY got back to you on . Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and I hope to hear back.
I think Comments for Community is a great idea! Thanks for commenting on a blog post of mine!
I love this idea and the way you’ve laid out your plan. I appreciate why you’re doing it and you have inspired me to try as well. Thanks so much for your dedication.
Ben, being a reflective practitioner is a stance I have taken for years and have tried to develop in other educators throughout my career. Being a connected educator and colleague has broadened my reach to impact teaching and learning as I cut across the globe to bring people together as reflective writers through my REFLECT WITH ME galleries of artistic expressions, such as seen in http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/12/finding-fall-gallery-is-here-with.html. Your venture, #C4C15: Comments for Community in 2015, is unique and should bring more people together as a collective body of writers. I am glad that we connected and hope that our paths will criss-cross across social media platforms.
Thank you for your vision and inspiration to share. I’m in.