A couple of months ago, I was introduced to Dave Nicholls, Chair of the Critical Physiotherapy Network. The Critical Physiotherapy Network is an organisation which has a lot of synergies with ISCHP, and Dave and I met to discuss how our respective organisations managed membership and communication issues. In the course of our conversation, he commented about blog posts, how they are easy and quick to write, why people should do this more often, and why most people don’t. I took him up on this and asked him to write a post about it for our blog, which he promptly did. Thank you Dave, some very good advice for our members. If this inspires you to write for our blog (and it is meant to), then please write something and send it off to one of our blog editors or commissioning editors – their addresses can be found on the Committee page or the Contact page).
Please answer all questions on this paper.
A blog is:
- A personal web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis
- A badly written piece of banal drivel, written by someone craving the affirmation of others
- A revolutionary mode of postmodern peeragogy, democratizing the sharing and distribution of ideas and opinions
- All of the above, and more
It would be nice to think that the correct answer is 1 and 3, but you can’t really avoid badly written blogs if you allow for such a free and easy mode of personal expression. To me, the fact that some blogs are poorly written doesn’t matter. All that really matters is that ideas and opinions are being shared.
It’s not that long ago that publishing an inspirational thought meant writing to the editor of a publication, complying with their style conventions, and waiting for days or weeks to see your issue in print. Social media has changed all that, and tweeting, blogging, and other forms of socially mediated expression have become ubiquitous.
What is surprising though, is how quickly some of the more traditionally conservative sectors of society have taken to the blogosphere. Health professionals used to only write their clinical notes and academic papers, but they have taken to hypertext as if they had been released from bondage.
So why write a blogpost? Well, for me, it’s often simply an exercise in working out an idea or a way to share a thought with others. It’s not a heavy piece of deep thinking or a major contribution to social reform. It’s just a tiny treasure; a paper boat lowered into the lake to be taken by the wind. What’s interesting is that what seems like a simple idea to me, is really challenging for a lot of people.
The idea of writing a blogpost causes many people to come out in a rash. The thought that you might write something wrong or say something offensive often combines with paradoxical feeling that it’s all a bit silly and self-serving. For some people blogging is both terribly serious and totally trivial.
So I thought it might help to offer some suggestions for how you might overcome some of these barriers, and write your own blogposts for this forum:
- Firstly, try to put aside the idea that the blogpost has to be the last word on anything. The best posts are temporary, ethereal and partial. They leave space for others to argue, debate and discuss, or maybe even blog a different opinion themselves.
- Then, give your opinion. Write from a first-person perspective, and only use academic/scholarly language if you have to.
- Try to write for your smartest reader, but use language that is inclusive. So avoid colloquialisms and idiom wherever possible.
- Write about one idea. Save your other ideas for another blogpost tomorrow.
- Add pictures. Use Google or Bing Images and don’t worry about the copyright. No one pays any attention to that these days.
- Say something provocative, like the last bullet point. Don’t just say it to be controversial though, stick to a consistent philosophy.
- Try not to make it too long or too serious.
Blogging can be a lot of fun and a great way to develop your thinking among a community of peers. If you are an academic, it encourages people to engage with your scholarly work, and it can influence public policy and opinion. But most of all, blogging is a great way to say new things in new ways. Do try it.
Dave Nicholls (Chair, Critical Physiotherapy Network)