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Happy 5th Birthday, Blue Skunk!

Had I know I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. - Yogi Berra

The first Blue Skunk blog post, "Getting Blogging Help" appeared on August 8, 2005. Since then:

There have been

  • 1364 posts
  • 6794 comments (not counting a bajillion spams)
  • Unique site visitors range between 20-50K a month
  • The site is the number one hit in Google for "Blue Skunk." (There is a strain of marijuana called Blue Skunk that seems to be gaining in the ranking, however.)
  • The Blue Skunk logo gets changed twice a month thanks to the drawings by my son Brady. I am hoping to talk him into doing some new ones.
  • The younger crowd at conferences identify me as "the Blue Skunk guy" not the author of book or articles
  • I have retained by joy in writing in this format

I do all the wrong things with this blog. It has no clear focus - some days it's about libraries, some days about technology, other days about just stuff. It often becomes too personal, too political or too offensive. I've messed up, written critically about folks who read about themselves and were hurt my what I said. I'd like to think I would exercise more discipline in the blog were to I begin again. But I doubt it.

Since I often get asked this and it's hard to find on the site, I will again answer the question: Why the Blue Skunk Blog?:

Dear Readers,

I created this blog reluctantly. Blogging seems so trendy and as anyone who has seen my clothes and haircut knows, I am not a trendy person.

My current, established website seems to be useful to others. I post my "real" articles, columns and workshop materials there often. It has an effective search engine. People can find out how to contact me there. It's my professional face.

So the question remains, why in the devil do I need a blog? I’m somewhat reluctant to share my personal life since it has only two speeds - boring and embarrassing. Intellectually, it’s about all I can do to come up with enough cogent thoughts for published columns and articles. (I still don't understand the economic model of bloggers. Not that writing for professional publication pays much either, but at least it’s beer money.)

What I did not have is a convenient way for people to respond to my writing or presentations. This blog might afford such a means. It has also served as a sounding board for ideas I am currently thinking/writing about. You may have seen some Blue Skunk entries as parts of a published article or book.

As it's turned out, I've continued to write simply because it has been so dang much fun. I amuse myself on a fairly regular basis, and if when doing so, I amuse you as well, so much the better. I love the comments - both contrary and supportive. And I enjoy the simple freedom of having no editor other than one's conscience.

Be aware, of course, that the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone and do not reflect those of my school district, my children, nor totally rational human beings.

Please continue to read and add your your thoughts to the Blue Skunk. But as always, keep them clean - my mother reads this. You never know - your mother might be reading it too.

All the very best,


Oh, Blue Skunk? As I understand it, early explorers attempted to give this part of Minnesota the Lakota name for “blue earth” - mah-kah-toe. Somehow this got changed to man-kay-toe, the Lakota word for “blue skunk.”

I like the image and the lesson about how easily things get lost in translation.


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Reader Comments (19)

I love the comments - both contrary and supportive.


Here's a contrary one--you need to fix the drawing--it only has 3 candles on it...

(Congratulations and Happy Birthday! I love your words!

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Doyle

Fascinating word etymology and symbolism for blue skunk. You are as creative and cogent as usual. Happy milestone!

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Cornies

Hey Doug,
Even if you don't have much discipline, you are at the least, an entertaining and endearing author and at best, instructional and informative. I remember when blogging first started to take off. I didn't really "get it" and I called my mentor, Judy Bull to see what she could make of this new fangled device. Neither one of us had much hope for it, after all there was no way to search it and no subject headings! I'm glad you stuck it out :)

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTori Jensen

..."too personal, too political, or too offensive," just wouldn't be you if it weren't! Congratulations on your 5 years! Enjoy your blog immensely as well as your thoughts and provocations.

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Niebuhr

I can happily report that Ive been a fan and reader for the whole five years!! WOW. I began a reader (bloglines) right after NECC 05-Philly, and never looked back. My own blogging experience began after the next NECC (06 in San Diego). Proud to realize I'm probably a charter member of your readership.

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

Blue Skunk Blog was one of the first blogs I followed in Google Reader. The others were Joyce Valenza's NeverEndingSearch, David Warlick's 2 Cents Worth, and Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed. Thanks for being one of the pillars of my digital universe!

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdiane

Hi Doug:

I remember meeting you at TIES 2005. I had been following your writing for a few months here, after being introduced to the "blog" thing by John Pederson at a school workshop.

I was really sort of awe-struck to be meeting someone who actually wrote stuff "for the internet"! You laughed when I asked if you were the "Blue Skunk Guy".

I don't comment much at all, but I read everything you post.

Congratulations on 5 years! Thanks for always giving me something to think about.

Amy Hendrickson, Teacher / School Director
East Range Academy - MN Public Charter School #4166
Eveleth, MN

August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy H.

Hi, Doug. Your post made me wonder about the age of my own blog and it seems yours is one day older than mine! Of course I have much less productive than you, only posting my 600th post tonight. But I do share the same lack of focus that makes your blog such a joy to read - bits of personal life and whimsy make their way in as often as solid edtech advice and strategies. I think that's the key to keeping the blogging muse happy. Looking forward to the next five years.
Cheers from down under,

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGraham Wegner

Happy birthday, Blue Skunk. Focus is vastly over-rated, IMHO! You and Will Richardson were the first blogs I ever sent to my reader, four years ago when I first started exploring this "web 2.0 thing." I have learned a lot from you (and continue to do so), forged a new friendship, and deepened my understanding of what it means to be a media specialist. All the best, and here's to another five....or fifteen.

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeri Hurd

Congratulations on your 5th anniversary, Doug!

For me there's certainly nothing wrong with a blog being "too personal" since that's the very essence of what blogging is all about. As for "too political or too offensive", I don't recall you ever crossing those lines. All of that, however, combines to make your writing interesting and entertaining.

As to Blue Skunk having no clear focus, I'm the last person to be critical of that considering how all over map I tend to be. Let's call that one more reason to subscribe. :-)

August 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertimstahmer

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the comment. Like on my real birthday cakes, the candles have long become symbolic rather than actual! Fire department orders.


Hi Cathy,

Well, thanks for following along. The Philly NECC conference was what gave me the impetus to start (David Wienberg on information as conversation!)

All the best,


Thanks, Diane. I certainly would not put myself in league with Joyce, David or Will. Do I have to be more responsible if I am a pillar?


Hi Graham,

I suspect one's writing has to be amusing to oneself or it has no hope of interesting others.

Thanks for comment and keep writing!



August 9, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Happy Birthday Blue Skunk! I'm so glad you're out there - you entertain AND give me interesting things to think about. Keep it up, Doug.

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

A very happy birthday to one of my favorite blogs! I can honestly say that because the Blue Skunk is part of my PLN - it has had direct (and positive) influence in my district. Truly remarkable how your words, realities, and ideas impact so many of us! Congrats!

August 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen Hegna

Happy Birthday (?) - there must be a better word for the start of something on the internet - siteday? Bunch of pixels that you can read day? Helping Skynet become self aware day?

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

Happy "Bit" day?


August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson


I like the "Happy Bit Day" phrase! Whatever, your blog's birth and then growth on the web has inspired so many others (like me) who have not only had our thoughts provoked by your posts, but have also been entertained. After having the pleasure of meeting you at SCASL and spending a lovely evening with new and old friends, I know that your blog captures "you" very well - and your readers wouldn't want it any other way!

So, your little blog must be starting kindergarten this year - where is it going to learn? =)

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFran Bullingon

Hi Fran,

Nice hearing from you. If the Blue Skunk encouraged you to blog, that is high praise indeed.

My best to you and my SCASL friends!


August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I was actually looking for genetic information on a particular marijuana strain, an F1 hybrid called "Blue Skunk." Oh well, congratulations of your blog's birthday. Keep it up.

February 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve R.

Hi Steve,

I only found out long after I started publishing on the Blue Skunk that Blue Skunk was also a type of marijuana. Had I know that, I am not sure it would have kept me from using the name, however. If readers want to believe I am a doper, so be it, I guess. I will still swear that I never inhaled ;-)


February 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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