A Case for Private Blogs

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My colleague Brad and I have had an interesting ongoing debate about whether a "blog" is by definition public or whether a "private blog" makes any sense. I'll let Brad make his case elsewhere, but I think the concept of a private blog is valid and, for me, a different medium from a public blog.

I should say that I maintained a private blog elsewhere for some time. It’s really private too - not an anonymous blog hosted somewhere outside of Penn State. It’s password protected, and it’s dated, has categories and could generate an RSS feed. Although some entries in the private blog have made the public blog, most are still lying in the dark...and that’s OK with me.

Here is a sampling of some entries which are in the private blog.

1. A few are notes on my interests in cognition and learning which are sort of in the fuzzy stage. A public blog entry of any length takes me about 30 minutes to fully “word smith.” Anyone who has heard me speak spontaneously in public knows that I take a while to form a coherent sentence many days. If I only have 10 minutes, it’s better to dash off a quick jumble...but not publish it.

The nice things about these entries is that they do allow me to clarify some of my thoughts...sooner or later. I notice that my early entries on learning are a little vapid, but the further I got along, the more sensible they became. However, I’m not going to expose the stupid ones to the public.

2. Some entries are just random technical notes. Some are too elementary for public blog consumption (e.g. function keys of Flash). Interestingly, some of these are those that I’m not “officially” supposed to know about (nothing illegal - just not standard practice). Any experienced techie has a few of these tricks up his or her sleeve.

3. Other entries are just those I wrote when I was really, really mad or sarcastic. Having accidentally started a few flame wars with an unwise choice of words, I am more cautious about what I say in a public forum. I don’t have the time anymore for a good flame war.

Plus, I have made a conscious choice to be as apolitical as possible in my public life (I argue with close friends and family, but that’s about it). I get annoyed so when someone inserts a random political comment, so I don’t see any reason to add to the noise. Plus, I’m finding that many alternate points of view are valid (except for the really stupid ones).

In the long run, venting is just a way to listen to yourself - so why not make yourself the only audience? Yourself will always agree with you! Actually some vents will make more sense when the anger is worn off and the concept carefully reworded.

4. Some of the private entries are about work issues.

So there you have it - my reasons for the personal blog. I would end by saying that I don’t think the private blog is a place to hide information. I think of it as a staging area for better thinking ahead.

P.S. Definition wise, I think the term does allow for privacy as a parameter...unless you think otherwise.

A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links.
http://www.marketingterms.com/dictionary/blog/

An online Journal.
http://matra.sourceforge.net/misc/glossary.php

Web LOG is a journal kept on the Internet. This journal is often updated daily and contains all information that the person maintaining the BLOG (the blogger) wishes to share with the world. ...
http://www.avatar.co.nz/resources/web-site-design-web-marketing-definitions-b.html

1 Comments

Cole said:

I like this thinking and while I also like the openness of most blogs, what you are describing is something that I think is a critical piece to the learning landscape -- a personal content management system. I have a post brewing in my own "private space" that I will release soon along these lines.

Here is my three sentence perspective on the whole thing ... If I am a student interested in producing a public ePortfolio, the first thing I should do is create a protected blog. In that space I should capture everything -- class notes, thoughts, assignments, media elements I create, and anything else in the digital domain. Once I am engaged in the creation, management, and storage aspect I would then move to a process of selecting and reflecting on the best pieces that I would expose on my public blog (ePortfolio).

The protected space is my personal repository and the public space is a thoughtful repository of learning artifacts. Just my two cents.

Good post!

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