If I go clothes shopping by myself, I’m hopeless! I walk into shops and have a look around and see nothing I like, and try and hide from the shop assistants who come to ask if they can help. After a while I stop even going into the shops, just ‘knowing’ they won’t have anything for me.

In contrast, if I go clothes shopping with my daughter, we talk first about what it is I am wanting, and she picks out lots of things for me, encourages me to try things on, and suggests things that I wouldn’t have thought of (and are usually pretty good). We have a good time, we interact with shop assistants to everyone’s mutual benefit, and I end up buying something that I’m pretty happy with.

And now, I’m ‘shopping around’ for suitable blogs. I find that I’m starting to do the same thing – a quick flick, and no, this isn’t right for me. Some blogs are so overwhelming, there’s so much going on; and some blogs are very underwhelming because they don’t seem to change from month to month. It’s probably a good idea to have a focus such as the 23 Things for Research, so I’m forced to stop and evaluate properly, and I have friends to ‘go shopping’ with.

To start with, I suppose I should define for myself what I am looking for with blogs. I have decided that I’m not really interested in personal discussions – I have my face-to-face friends for that. I’m interested in education, but I am not a classroom teacher so I don’t need or want tips for how to teach. I’m writing a thesis, but I’m not really in need of a lot of motivation and tips for that. What I want is theoretical discussion, on the nature of education, its philosophy, its history, its research community…

One blog that I have been following is Maureen Perkins’ ECE blog: http://ktotp.blogspot.co.nz/ and that’s because she is a friend. However, she doesn’t update it much and there’s not much of a community discussion going on around it.

Another friend, Lionel Sharman, has written a book on the intersection between science and religion called Matter and What Matters, and has an accompanying website with it to publicise it and get a discussion going. He has a forum on the site: http://whatmatters.net.nz/forum.php where he has posted starter questions. No-one has yet entered the discussion though. Perhaps he would be better off with a “blog” – but what really is the difference?

One well-established blog that I have been following for a while is Core Education: http://blog.core-ed.org/. This is a multi-author blog and they have thoughtful posts, but not a lot of people comment on it. It seems to be one-way info sharing, and the comments I’ve seen appear to be non-critical and not entering into the discussion of the ideas as such. I’m equally guilty of being an onlooker here.

The last one I want to share is Transnational Femininities at http://teenfictionsproject.wordpress.com/. I found this by looking at the profile of Dr Stephanie Spencer from Winchester University, whom I met at a conference and got on well with, and was interested in her work. It only just occurred to me that she might have a blog, and yes! This blog, written in conjunction with her colleague, is specifically for the dissemination of their research on girls teen fiction in the 1950s, with the wider questions of gender and education being addressed. This is probably closest to my ideal subject matter, but I don’t see a lot of comments.

I’m still looking for my ideal blogging ‘shopping mall’, but I’m starting to realise things (which I have been told by others, but I’m coming to myself as well):
– It is the network that matters, rather than individual blogs or sites.
– Interacting with other blogs is a good idea to find out interests (mine as much as theirs) and developing a network.
– If I want people to interact with me, I need to let them know how to find me. It’s about time I revisited my Auckland Uni profile and put my blog link on it, and my Twitter handle…
– It takes time. Some of the popular blogs have obviously been going for years, but I don’t suppose they had thousands of hits in their first month of blogging.

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