On March 16, 2008, I clicked “Publish” for the first time and declared myself “(No Longer) Alone in a Library”. Though my posts make no reference to it, a year ago, I was just out of the hospital, sad and scared, and needed not to be alone. The first comments, kind and encouraging, appeared within two weeks; I am forever grateful.
One year, 100 posts, 152 comments, and approximately 5,695 visits later, I find it convenient to pause and reflect. The graph below captures some of the story behind these posts, comments and visits. I posted most actively when I participated in the comment challenge that took place in May of last year. I made an effort to connect to other participants in the challenge through commenting and my fellow participants repaid me handsomely with their comments. The frequency of my posts fell off dramatically after the challenge, but began to rise again in September, as I attempted to document my participation in two courses that I was auditing. I believe that my participation in these courses triggered the second comment spike seen on the graph. Near the end of November, I nearly disappeared from blogging, reemerging only last month.
There are stories that the graph can’t tell. Through blogging, particularly the comment challenge, I “met” some interesting and intelligent people that I’m sure I never would have met otherwise. Most notable among these are two of my most frequent commenters, Sarah and Ines. Who would have thought I’d correspond with an English midwife living “down under” or a multilingual teacher of Portuguese in Lisbon? Both of these women provide me with additional lenses to examine my work.
Since starting this blog, I’ve moved across two mountain ranges, countless rivers and approximately 2,000 miles. Still, I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends, colleagues and classmates through this blog and other technologies. Two valued friends/colleagues/classmates (they both fit in all three categories) are Andrea and SaraJoy. I don’t get to talk with them nearly as often as I’d like, but I appreciate that they take time to read and comment on my ideas.
Recently, (No Longer) Alone in a Library has brought me an unexpected opportunity. Because I took the time to post a reflection on the 2008 American Evaluation Association Conference in Denver, I have been invited to participate with other AEA members in an discussion about emerging technologies, particularly blogging. Several opportunities have been dropped in my lap in the past year and I believe that while this is the first that can be directly traced to my blog, I’m certain that what I’ve learned through blogging is a big reason so many opportunities have come my way.
One final observation, before I close for the night . . . I haven’t empirically tested the data, but I feel fairly safe in concluding that the non-spam comments left on my blog are made by people who have established some sort of a connection with me. Some of these connections go back to real-world relationships, some to common organizational ties, and some of the connections are made when something I wrote resonates with something inside the reader. Without the connection, nothing special ever happens.