Saturday, 20 February 2010

What I've learnt from a winter season in Blogsville

I have found travelling in Blogsville a very entertaining, interesting, thought provoking, self-awareness raising and enlightening experience. This is not just because of what I have read on other people’s blogs or formulated for my own; it’s also the learning I’ve gained by reflecting on writing my posts, the comments they receive and from commenting on other people’s blogs.

An outline of my key learning….!

1) Writing style
I appear to be able to write in a reasonably clear way, using simple language to convey my meaning. Not bad for someone that could not read at ten and carried a fear toward the written word for years!! I also realise I am the queen (or prevalent implementer) of bracketed tangents and elaborations!!!

2) Blogging community
It’s surprising how you feel connected to your main commenters! It’s a little blogging community. We are all so different and each blogger also brings their uniquely flavoured comments. For example:
Claire - flippant, irreverent and very funny
Nick - intelligent, thought provoking, shares a little of himself, encouraging and downright bloody witty/hilarious
Codgi- thoughtful and reflective
Clipster – I always feel like you come in as a chaotic bundle of randomness and deliver funny, sometimes flippant and warm comments that often make me laugh - with not at – you laughing at me!!! Love it!
Heronster – warm, makes his stance very clear, thoughtful
Mark – intelligent and encouraging
Eric – thought provoking, direct, not shy of challenging and often leftfield
Nikki – we share similar interests so I think we’re often on the same wavelength – your comments show that!
FF – warm, friendly and sparky
Jonathan – thought provoking, shares something of himself and cleverly mocking!
KD – what a lovely fellar – warmth and humbleness!

3) Different types of posts
Most of my followers appear to like little funny stories best. I would have become bored quickly if that was all I had written. Thus my quite diverse posts.

4) Intention and reception altering in electronic transit
The electronic word with no visuals (90% of communication is non-verbal and all that) with no facial expressions, body language or tone to help convey its meaning is easily mis-received. Add in the British tendency towards irony (we do it so much I think we hardly notice) comments can be received as the exact opposite of their intention. I think I have learnt to be more careful but I think we all slip up in places. Further communication usually sorts it out.

5) Stimulation
I enjoy writing comments on other people’s blogs as much as writing my own. I think the stimulus to be had out there provokes opinions you didn’t know you had and sparks off memories you didn’t realise were still rattling around in your grey matter.

6) Writer's eye (or inner eye)
Writing a blog seems to give you a mindset that is continuously on the look-out for interesting incidents, interesting ideas or for logging unusual memories as they occur to you. It has certainly meant I have been thinking about 'stuff' more! I am not sure this is always a good thing. My head rattles around a lot anyway.

7) Challenge
I have enjoyed writing speculatively about ideas and concepts in posts and comments. Sometimes what I have written is evidence based (a lot of work stuff – like SRE is a positive thing) and sometimes it is opinion and/or speculation. When I write opinion, I have tried to start sentences with I think….I believe…etc..rather than writing it as proven fact.

Everyone has different opinions and this is how it should and will always be. But in debates:
• I think some people (I am still learning here) seem to be better at making challenge palatable than others (and therefore their message more likely to be received). It’s a bit like the difference between criticism and suggestion. When people challenge your opinion, some attack your opinion (as if you are wrong for holding that opinion); others put forward their viewpoint as suggestion (with a ‘how I see it, or ‘I think’). Once a person feels under attack, they are more likely to attack back than receive any potential learning. (see earlier post on conflict!!!) Some people don't care if they offend, others do.
• Sometimes people have evidence based fact to challenge an opinion – so there’s always learning to be had –you can’t debate fact. But sometimes opinion is presented as if it is fact. (still thinking and learning about this)
• Wanting to be ‘right’ and fear (?) of being wrong gets in the way of learning. (Childhood conditioning?)
• Some people are more happy to agree to disagree than others.
• Back to the Myers Briggs thinkers and the feelers again! I think these two guys can struggle with each other. I wonder if feelers are happier with evaluative judgements (opinions) and thinkers just want facts to apply logic to. I also suspect feelers find it easier to communicate with feelers and thinkers with thinkers! Thinkers’ search for reasoned logic can appear brutal to feelers and feelers’ idealism can irritate thinkers – for example. (see earlier bang-on-about-it post on Myers Briggs).

8) Public-ness
Writing a blog is a very public thing to do and like artists, musicians and anyone that pushes forward something they have created into a public arena can lay them open to judgement. By this I mean negative opinion judgement not logical evaluative judgement!!!!! (see post on judgement!). When I wrote about my father’s death, I was genuinely touched by the warmth in people’s comments - both people I knew and strangers. In my experience the Blogosphere is mostly a really supportive place. Most people comment with respect, humour and often, warmth. But very occasionally someone would write something slightly aggressive (the best example of this was the woman who told me by email recently that she thought my post had been an insult to her intelligence – which to me would be like watching a TV programme and saying, this programme is calling me stupid) and that can only ever be an unpleasant experience in my humble opinion. And this brings me to:

9) Why I wrote a blog
I am still not sure what it is that attracted me to writing a blog. Some speculation:
• An opportunity to get feedback on one’s ideas and experiences
• A forum that makes you construct ‘essays’ in a way that others might want to read. Thus making you focus on how to communicate your ideas.
• The ultimate extraversion into a potentially huge and unknown entity
• Producing something one day my kids might read because I would not just write these thoughts down on paper to record them.
• To see the dark evenings of winter through.
• To keep me off the streets, because if - I was not occupied in this way- I would be out mugging (see post on catchphrases)


  1. Molly:
    Your name was what first attracted me to your blog because I think I mentioned that I know another Molly Potter and she's a very nice person.
    I think your blog is always fascinating. You are so prolific (it intimidates me how often you post and always have something to SAY that I want to read) and imaginative and always interesting.
    Okay, I don't think you were fishing for compliments when you wrote this post but it inspired me to fawn over you a little.
    I am excited to be described as a 'chaotic bundle of randomness'. It makes me sound all windswept and interesting, which of course I truly am.
    So glad you decided to spend the long winter nights blogging instead of mugging. There's not many bloggers in the bighouse to my knowledge. Hopefully you will decide to continue through the upcoming seasons.

  2. Public-ness.
    I am the woman who e mailed you.
    It was part of a private exchange of e mails when you asked me to explain my reaction to your blog on immigration.
    I think you have taken the quote out of context.
    More importantly, I don't expect to find private communication used in the public sphere without asking permission.

  3. oooh, how revealing...

    Lovin' yer werk Molly, keep on blogging. x

  4. (I'm back!) Your blog is always fun to read because your world view and personality are so different from mine, but it's also clear you are kind and caring.

    BTW I reckon it's OK to describe something someone said, as long as it's not attributed. Someone called me an idiot the other day, and I don't need their permission to tell you this. To identify the person who said that would however require some sensitivity, context and perhaps permission too. (In fact they were laughing at one of my inane jokes)

  5. I cannot address your comments, except to say thank you:) Your blogs are in the main thought provoking and entertaining. What concerns me and should not. Is exactly how much time do you spend at work ??? (laughs!)

  6. Hi Molly P
    I, along with the rest of the world, would never have known it was the fly in the web you were referring to and, as such, I think you have acted with integrity. There have been things you have ventured an opinion on which I disagree with, but I absolutely love your honesty and support your absolute right to say what you think and feel. I find it easy to highlight the great things about you and put the rest on the shelf as I'm sure you do with me. You are a breath of fresh air.

    I suppose it would have been a lot quicker to say that I agree with Cogitator.

  7. Love your map of blogsville, it should be printed onto tea-towels and sold as blog souvenirs.

    Great post, spot on. My biggest kick from blogging are the comments - they are usually funnier than my posts!!! And I have learned alot from the advice commenters have left. Blogging is simply bewitching.

    I forget (or just don't get it yet) that blogging is a public thing. I think who in their right mind would want to read about me and my stuff anyway ...

    Great that you are enjoying it. :)

  8. Clipster – you are so kind, warm, bubbly and funny. Thank you misses. I still haven’t mugged anyone. Xxxx

    Fly – if you need me to remove that part, I will but I am guessing it’s a somewhat public now.

    Mr T – thank you kind sir!

    Codgi – yes we are somewhat unlike each other aren’t we!!! I expect you could teach me some more rational, measured and organised ways. If I could sit still for long enough. I have always appreciated your rationalness (and kindness) INTJ – ENFP – just got the intuition in common (but it’s the dominant function for both of us). Thank you for the comment about Fly’s comment. I didn’t attribute it deliberately (and like my analogy so used it).

    Heron – ‘in the main’!!! How very dare you!!! I am joking. I feel my posts are so random – like I say, I’d be surprised if anyone could like them all. I’m not so enamoured by some. I don’t watch TV and I write very quickly. It’s not overly time consuming. I wrote 18 books in less than 2 years – blogging is a breeze. I can’t access the blog at work (there’s a block!!! Apparently to prevent viruses) so worry ye not – the tax payer gets a prolific Potter at work.

    Ken – thank you kind person. Yes we are not all meant to agree all the time are we? That would be a boring debate, no challenge, no puzzling over things. We can disagree respectfully and still get on. I like your shelf idea. I do say that (it’s nearly another catchphrase) ‘we’re none of us perfect, we all have faults but we also all have great things about us. It’s up to you what you focus on and how forgiving you can be of the rubbish bits. And if the rubbish bits are too much for you to cope with – give me a wide birth and I’ll hang out with those that can cope with me!!!!! Only that’s a bit longer than anything Bruce Forsythe would have said!!! Thank you again Ken D.

    SM – Thank you. I have taken to saying ‘great post’ more – when I have enjoyed one. It’s always nice to hear. You’re very funny so you inspire witty comments!

  9. I agree with Cogi, and I want a teatowel...

  10. Of course I don't want you to remove makes my point that you cannot distinguish between the public sphere - your posts and comments on your blog in reply - and the private sphere - an exchange of e mails off the blog.

    We'll never agree, shall we?

  11. Tea Towels factory being built as I type. Here to please.

    Fly: I can distinguish (not overly difficult) and I will disagree respectfully, I don't think what I did was actually wrong as I did not attribute it - it was you that did.

  12. I've been taking a short break from the blog recently and its interesting how that has worked out - I feel almost guilty! Though perhaps that is because I've not done as much writing as I had planned.

    As for your blog, whatever your motives I think it is one of the very best out there!

  13. Thank you Maek, that is very kind of you to saw.

    Your blog always sets me off deep in thought - which is great.

  14. Still pondering over diminishing returns a bit actually!


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