Sunday, April 17, 2011

Calling All CRW Readers! An Invitation for Feedback

I don't know if I'm writing on topics that people aren't interested in, if my current state of end-of-semester doldrums are impacting my writing, or if I'm just not as dedicated as I was to tweeting my posts, but my numbers are way down. This, along with everything else, has got me down. I have at least six posts that I have been meaning to or wanting to write for the past month, but they aren't coming together for me. 

Topics include:
- What role professors/instructors play in this information age;
- Who should go to college (although Tenured Radical seems to have covered the topic quite nicely);
- My pre-academic jobs (and what they taught me);
- Response to the consistent accusation that professors are disconnected from the "real world";
- Why you should be nice to your administrative assistant(s);
- How to talk like a pirate and make a living (trust me on this one).

But I am stuck. It's hard to be motivated when people don't seem to be responding to my posts. I'm thinking that, for the summer, I'll be cutting back on the posting, in part because, hey, it's summer, but also because I need to focus on my research. Maybe this summer, the blog will be more about my research than my teaching (makes sense, as I won't be teaching, no?). I don't know. Maybe I'll write about what my dreams are; seriously, you didn't think I wanted to be an instructor the rest of my life, did you? 

So I'm going to throw it open to you, dear, loyal readers, tell me what you'd like to read about. Why is it you come here? What can I do better or do more of? I know it can be a little bi-polar around here, with both talking about teaching, but also talking about larger issues of higher education. Is that a strength, or a weakness?  

Either post it in the comments below, or tweet me (@readywriting, if you didn't already know). I'm serious about this; I wouldn't be a good teacher if I didn't listen to my students, and thus I wouldn't be a good blogger if I didn't listen to my readers. Please, don't make this like the classroom of blank stares and awkward silence. I know y'all are better than that. :-) 


  1. Consider how many of your appreciative readers have overflowing feed readers and also blog (sometimes to excess). I can't be the only one... accept my apologies on their behalf as well.

    My choices on your list, all good but some already blogged to excess, others invite oversimplifying the complex. In either case, do only if approach is truly fresh and innovative.

    - My pre-academic jobs (and what they taught me);
    - How to talk like a pirate and make a living (trust me on this one)

    The last is too late for me, no longer of great personal importance (retired minimalist on SS, independent as a hog on ice)

  2. I know that feeling and I'm afraid that I don't have an 'answer'; I'm not even sure whether there is an answer per se. My blogging experience so far is that blogging often works in mysterious ways as to how the post is spread, how many people read it, how many actually comment on it and what the long-term impact is (Google search results for example). As with teaching, I would try to be less 'customer oriented' and trust my instinct and skills; If YOU think this is an interesting topic, probably 2-2000 people will agree. I also feel that there many sometimes contradicting aims at work: You want an increase in traffic? You want feedback from like-minded people on specific issues? You want to be more polemic and ranting? Most importantly, be yourself. I have resisted the temptation to comment on a few 'usual suspect' topics in my area and rather share some more personal reflections and slightly off-beat book reviews. Sometimes I receive great, encouraging comments, sometimes nothing happens with a relatively long, thought-through post. But this is my blog, my ideas and I want to share some original contents rather than get into the 'news' business. I often tell myself that I'm not competing with the community and that people will find their way to my posts in the end. Bottom line? Continue writing...blogging sometimes reminds me of the tagline of an MI5 ad I once saw in the Economist: 'See all your good work go unnoticed''s also true for some of the teaching we do...

  3. How are your university of venus numbers doing? Maybe your numbers are migrating.

    I suggest that you do some research on the teaching blogs that you follow. Don't compare them with yours, compare them with each other. When they address a similar topic, whose is "better"? Poor? Ho hum? And why?

    Then ask a bigger question: what about this blog makes me keep coming back to it? What do I learn? What do I enjoy? What am I looking for and how often do I find it?

    "But that's subjective." Yep. Every reader is making a subjective judgment. Trust YOUR judgments.

    Do these bloggers often reference an article or an event - something specific that connects their thoughts to the outside world - something that a reader might have seen? Bloggers say that links draw readers who came via those links.

    Do these bloggers offer a specific kind of expertise (TechKnitting on knitting how-tos) that readers learn to rely on?

    Do these bloggers ever break out of their mold? has her Yorkie blogging every Tuesday. blogs about squid and sea creatures every Friday. These minor events keep people coming back.

    When you've done your research, turn a researcher's eye on your own blog.

    If you research why you stick with the blogs you read, you may get some insights about your own.

    Good luck!

  4. I don't post much here because I respond to you on twitter. Maybe others are doing that too? I also respond on TCE. I don't like to clutter the comments with my thoughts.

    Note, you have a lot more comments per individual post than TCE. But TCE is doing what I wanted it to do.

    And, yes, the focus changes as what I do changes. Expect a lot of change this summer/next year.

  5. I only found you a couple of weeks ago - and I really love reading your blog but this is the first time I've commented. Please don't feel disheartened if we've all gone quiet.


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