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One monkey, one keyboard

We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true. - Robert Wilensky

Vicki Davis over at the Cool Cat Teacher blog tagged me to write about how I go about writing my blog. I am humbled and honored since Vickie is, like, the Educational Blog Goddess. A sincere Wow! Following her well-composed, serious and insightful post on this topic, she will be disappointed in what she reads here, I am afraid. But then I have never yet let mymonkeykey.jpg own ineptitude stand in my way of doing something.

I write about what interests me. Period. I write about what is rattling in my brain at the time. I write about things I may wish to remember someday. I write in praise of other writers, but  not often enough. I write about things of no consequence but that I can say in a clever way.

When I write on professional topics, which is the majority of the time, I do it for the same reasons I write for professional publications.  And that boils down to a little poem by Minnesota author Fredrick Manfred I like to quote, "What About You Boy?":

…Open up and let go.
Even if it’s only blowing. But blast.
And I say this loving my God.
Because we are all he has at last.
So what about it, boy?
Is your work going well?
Are you still lighting lamps
Against darkness and hell?

OK, so that may be a little over the top, lighting lamps against darkness and hell and all, but you get the drift.

There are some absolutely delightful ways blogging is different from writing for print:

1.  I can write to amuse and no other reason. For a genuine smart ass like me, the worst thing in the world is to come up with something I think is terribly clever and not have someone to tell it to. Now I do.

2. I can think out loud. I believe most blog readers don't expect fully polished, fully documented treatises on topics. This blog after 18 months or so has become a source of rough drafts for columns and papers. I can be half-baked here, collect some feedback, and improve.

3. I can write in a more personal voice. It is really nice not having a editorial presence peering over one's shoulder saying things like, "You can't write bullshit," when bullshit is exactly the word that is needed. Some editors I've encountered feel humor has no place in professional writing. I'll bet they're fun at parties, too.

4. I can write on more personal topics. The blog writers I enjoy the most and respect the most are those who both write seriously and readably about their profession, but are not afraid to let their personal lives leak in. I will not forget Miguel Guhlin's moving tributes as his father was dying, Kathy Sierra's t-shirt modeling entries, or  David Warlick's tales of missed flights and workshops that have gone in strange directions. So this blog sometimes is my version of "Say would you to see some pictures of my beautiful children and grandchildren? My lovely wife? My last vacation?" Which I can do because...

5. I can write knowing that the Blue Skunk blog is on nobody's required reading list and costs nobody anything but the time it takes to move to the next feed in the aggregator. No advertising revenue depends on the popularity of this blog. I have never checked the Blue Skunk's "rank" nor do I intend to start.  I simply assume my blog is someplace in the middle of things - more read than some, less read than others. If you are not amused, informed, aggravated, or whatever by this blog, adios, nice knowing ya, and don't let door smack you on the way out. I am only writing for smart people who have taste anyway. The Blue Skunk is the bistro of blogs, not the all-you-can-eat buffet.

I write in my blog when I just plain want to write for fun. As anyone who writes regularly knows, the writing process can be excruciatingly painful or excruciatingly pleasurable. It's always a pleasure to blog.  This was as fine a way to spend a lunch hour as I can imagine. Well almost.

Now that all that is off my chest, I would like to hear about how Joyce Valenza, Chris Harris, Miguel Guhlin, Diane Chen, and Rob Darrow go about writing their blogs!

Sorry, Vicki. But you asked.

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Reader Comments (12)

Awesome! You are a great blogger and I love reading your blog. I enjoy the reallness and honesty and also the positive attitude about change and people that must be present in change-makers.

Thank you for sharing! I passed you along to our librarian here who says she is ready to read blogs. I think you're great and you're high up on my rankings! This is great!
February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Davis

When I first posed this question about how we go about writing out into the edublogosphere, I had no idea that the responses were going to be so interesting and honest. It been enlightening to follow this meme as it makes it's way around. Thanks for sharing, and including a bit of humor as well. Great post!

Brian Grenier
February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Grenier
Doug, I thoroughly enjoy your may not know it but I modelled my first "consulting" web site after your's. I've since done worse, but it was great to start high and go low.

Thanks for sharing...and...

<gasp> I've been tagged AGAIN. I'll go for brevity this next time. Is that legal? Can we get tagged twice? First entry entitled "Blogging Yin and Yang" appears here:


February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin
February 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin
Your voice has compassion, ground, and clarity. In short, you have a gift. That gift would show up whether you were writing about ed tech or horses.
February 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpete reilly
Education blogs come and go in my bloglines feeds, but I've never unsubscribed to yours.

I think this should be your official tagline:

"The bistro of blogs, not the all-you-can-eat buffet"
February 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJude
Keep up the good work - I figured there were real people writing real blogs somewhere, and I am glad I found your blog.
February 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKenn
This is really funny ... but I got tagged in that same post as Vicky. I've never met you, but I have an autographed copy of your book on my shelf. Several years ago I posted to a listserv how much I admired your work. Rick Birmingham mentioned that his dad worked with you. Two weeks later, a signed copy of your book arrived in the mail.

Here's my blog post
February 6, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Kanter
Well, Doug, I should have paid better attention and responded earlier. I posted about "Why I blog" including a graphic at I was having a moment when I couldn't think sequentially so I decided to play with gliffy and throw out all my ideas. There are gaps because I'm still thinking. In fact, I have emailed you an invitation to "collaborate" on the graphic. Anyone who wants can email me and I'll send them collaborative rights to play with us.

I will have to go back and spend some time thinking about how I choose what to blog tomorrow. I'm preparing to spark some mass underground blogging in my district since there is no "official leadership" in this area. Stirring things up is fun!
February 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Chen

Hey Doug I kind of like your style, especially the BS.. My southern roots just won't let me spell that out. Thanks for the help with the ISTE vote.

April 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

Hi Cathy,

I rather like the term Bullshit and I find the older I get, the more useful the term becomes! I do recognize that it's not very polite and I am helping coarsen the culture.

All the best,


April 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson


August 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersnegoviksukahitriy

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