Getting back into blog reading

One early upshot of my temporary Twitter hiatus was to realise how much I was missing picking up on other people’s blog posts. Twitter had become my single notification channel for new posts from people I know as well as discovering new ones.

Having said that I’ve been aware that I have been reading blogs less and relying on the Twitter stream more and I miss spending longer reading what other people are thinking.

So, yesterday I resolved to get back into reading blogs on a regular basis.

Up until about 3 years ago I had a routine based around Google Reader which helped me to subscribe and follow various RSS fields. Most mornings  I would spend 20-30 mins scanning my feeds and picking out the ones that looked more promising. Mostly it was just consuming but occasionally I’d build a blog post of my own around what I’d read.

Google Reader is no more but there is a handy equivalent aptly called Old Reader, basically a clone of the latter.

The changing blogging landscape

I’d imported my feeds into Old Reader ages ago before I got out of the blog reading habit so my first job was to go through and unsubscribe from blogs that were no longer relevant to me (lots of specialist ones about eportfolios for example) or were obviously inactive.

What surprised me was how many blogs that had once been very active hadn’t been posted to in years. Some had even let their domain subscriptions expire. This in itself shouldn’t be that surprising. I’m doing a very different job to what I was doing at Netskills (when I’d last been in the blog-reading habit) and that will be true of most people.

But you could also read it as a result of the way that our use of the social web has changed over the last few years, away from longer form writing to updates on more closed platforms.

People still blog but there seems to be less of culture around the practice, or rather that I’ve let myself lose track of it. Maybe there’s something about the rise of “thread” posting on Twitter indicates that there’s still an appetite for articulating more extended thinking. I have a problem with “threads” as an alternative to blogging but that’ll have to wait for another post.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but I find that I want to take my time over things more these days and engage more deeply. Rekindling my interest in blogs might be a way of doing that. I’ll try it out for a bit and see if I get back into the habit.

So, help me out here. Which blogs do you read on a regular basis? Who’s writing good stuff about TEL?

Please RT. 😉



#ForestMayhem – what happened next!

Well, there are a LOT of people I need to thank!

If you want the full back story then you can find it here but the summary is this: to make up for the fact that I failed to upload the 500 word story, Forest Mayhem,  that my 10 year old daughter spent hours lovingly creating, I posted it on my blog. I also put out a plea on social media for people to read it, pass it on and maybe comment on what they liked about her writing.

The results were fantastic, thanks to the generosity of people in my immediate network and beyond. She’s absolutely thrilled that so many people so has never heard of cared enough to read and share her story. She spent ages carefully reading the comments some of you left her.

The numbers

I’m not fully up to speed with Google Analytics but, taken with a pinch of salt, these are some of the important numbers about how many people viewed the page. It was posted about 10pm on the 26th Feb.

Screengrab of the metrics for the blog page
Screengrab of the metrics for the blog page

188 pageviews makes this the most viewed page on my blog. My daughter is understandably delighted and I now have a target to beat.

The average time on page of 6 mins 37 seconds is also really good!

Drilling down she can also see that Google has recorded the cities that people viewing the pages were sitting in. They include many close to home but also as far away as Melbourne, Hanoi, Bordeaux and Hemel Hempstead.

The comments

The numbers were great but it’s the comments that people have left for her that are particularly special. You can see them all here.

She spent a long time reading them and we had some great conversations about the structure of stories, classical myths and ways of grabbing and holding a reader’s attention.

Part of my job involves talking to people about their own storytelling so I was particularly interested to hear what it was that people responded to most. For a masterclass in classical storytelling read Dave Kernohan’s response.

My daughter added her own comment to the blog by way of thanks.

Thank you for the nice comments and soon I will write another.
I really enjoyed reading all your comments . At first it felt a bit weird to know my story was on the internet but now its okay. I learned that even though it was good I can still make it better.

What we learned

  • People are kind.
  • The knowledge that people have read and appreciated her story is a powerful motivator for my daughter. She’s already planning sequels!
  • Both my kids now want their own blogs! Easy-peasy as I’m running a WordPress multisite so new websites are just a few clicks away.
  • I should have thought about making it easy for people to comment before posting. The first version of the post went out on Medium as I wanted it to have a separate life from my blog (geeky, niche, not well-read) but Medium requires contributors to have an account. So, onto this blog it went. Much easier for everyone.
  • Putting the story online, assuming that the story wouldn’t have won the 500 Words competition, meant that many more people read her story than would otherwise have done. She’s also had a lot of valuable, formative feedback.
  • This was a one-off! There were so many tweets and pageviews because people felt that my daughter shouldn’t lose out because of my mistake. If she does start her own blog to post her future writing then she’ll have to work hard to build her own audience. This is no bad thing.

Thank you everyone who took the time to RT, read, share or comment on the story.