I recently had coffee with a new friend and fellow evaluator, Meagan Sutton. We were introduced by a mutual friend who knew that Meagan was interested in chatting with evaluators who write blogs and that I am an evaluator who writes a blog! We had a great chat and it got me thinking about why I have this blog and how I might grow what I do with it.
I originally started this blog as a place to keep notes of work-related stuff I was reading. I have a pretty terrible memory and I find my personal blog a great way to remember stuff that I did – it’s easy to search through and accessible anywhere with an Internet connection – so I figured rather than having notes in various notebooks and jotted down in the margins of printed copies of journal articles, I could use this blog as my brain dump for various things I learn 1I briefly co-opted this blog for blog postings I was required to do during an Internet marketing class that I took in my MBA, but then switched it back to stuff related to my work.. So whenever I went to a conference, attended a webinar, or read a book or article where I wanted to record what I was learning, I dumped it on this blog. I am an external processor, so it helps me to remember and understand things when I write them down. For webinars I tend to take notes directly into my blog and publish that, but for conferences, I usually write notes on paper during the conference – partially because that helps keep me awake and attentive during conference sessions and partially because I don’t like lugging my laptop around during a conference – but also because I find it helpful to look at all the notes I’ve taken and sort or synthesize them together for the whole conference and if type my notes during the conference, I find it harder to remove the superfluous stuff, whereas if I’m deciding what it’s worth typing out from a bunch of handwritten notes, I find it easier to be more succinct as I’ll select just the main points to blog about. The downside is that it often takes me quite a while to do that, and I can end up posting my conference summary blog posting many months later 2Though I made it a priority to do it more quickly from the last conference I attended and actually got it posted just two weeks after the conference instead of months and months later.
Meagan asked me how I promote this blog and honestly, I don’t. Since I saw the blog as mostly just an externalization of my memory, I didn’t think anyone else would ever want to read it. I have had a few people contact me after reading something on my blog that they found through Google – and actually have had some interesting conversations result – but it’s pretty rare.
Occasionally, I add some reflection into these blog postings – like thoughts about how what I was reading or learning at a conference might relate to work that I do, but that’s been pretty minimal.
At the same time, I’ve been working on improving my reflective practice, mostly through reflective writing that I’m doing privately rather than in a public forum like this. Part of that is because the reflections I’ve been writing are part of the data I am using in the evaluation I’m working on, so I need it documented where the rest of the data (including my team’s reflections) are. And part of it is because some of what I write about is confidential or politically sensitive, so is not for sharing publicly.
And this is where blogging as an evaluator can get sticky. Sometimes there are things you want to reflect on and process, and maybe even start a conversation with fellow evaluators about, but that you aren’t able to make anonymous for discussion in a public forum. Or you have conflicts with clients that you want to reflect on, but can’t do that publicly either. How does one navigate this? I honestly don’t know the answer, but as I think about expanding this blog to become more reflective, it’s something I’ll need to think more about.
I guess the flip side of this is: why do I want to put my reflections out into the world? I guess because I see it as an opportunity to engage with others. As I mentioned above, without even sharing my blog postings beyond just posting them here, I’ve had some interesting interactions with other evaluators who stumbled on my blog – imagine what could happen if I tweeted out these blog postings (like I do my personal blog postings with my personal Twitter account) and actually wrote some reflective stuff – things I’m thinking about/struggling with/wanting to know more about? Perhaps I could connect with others facing similar issues and get different perspectives on the things I’m thinking about.
- Coffee – posted on Flickr by Jen with a Creative Commons license
- Blog – posted on Flickr by Xiaobin Liu with a Creative Commons license
- Twisty Water Looking Thing – posted on Flickr by Mario with a Creative Commons license
- Megaphone – from Pixabay by OpenClipart-Vectors with a free for commercial use license
|↑1||I briefly co-opted this blog for blog postings I was required to do during an Internet marketing class that I took in my MBA, but then switched it back to stuff related to my work.|
|↑2||Though I made it a priority to do it more quickly from the last conference I attended and actually got it posted just two weeks after the conference instead of months and months later.|