One thing that helped me move in this direction was my experience with teaching online. Learning how to deliver material to students in new and non-traditional formats was an experience I also did not expect to enjoy. But I found it stimulating to find new ways to communicate information. The advantage of the blog has been that it provides me a way to post on a variety of topics that are either currently in the news or have been rattling around in my head for a time. So, in the end, my wife was right once again. Blogging is the kind of activity I enjoy.
One year later I have had 125,000 visits to this blog. So I thought I would take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of my regular readers and to list some of the things that I have learned over the last year.
- Blogging requires commitment and work. It is not the kind of thing that one does haphazardly, unless you don't want any readers that is. You need to post regularly. At the same time, I have often resisted the urge to post just for the sake of posting. If I have a day that is too busy for me or I simply have nothing to say, than I resist the urge to post.
- It is a good exercise for writing. Since most of my posts are around 500 words, blogging allows me to exercise the "writing muscle." My schedule does not always allow me to work on whatever project I am working on. But blogging allows me the chance to write a little everyday and exercise that muscle. It helps make you a better writer.
- Blogging helps me to digest what I am reading and studying. At times I comment on things in the news, review a book or say something about a topic. Taking the time to write helps me to process the information.
- A blog can take on a life of its own. I have been surprised to see links to my posts in places across the internet.
- Some topics are hot and will bring more visitors. For instance, I posted a few times on the rapture and my thoughts on it. Almost 25,000 of my hits came from people reading those posts. If I was being paid for hits I now know how to become a very rich man.
- I am sometimes surprised at which posts attract the most attention. Sometimes I will work hard on a post and the interest will be minimal. But then I type off the top of my head about a topic I am passionate about and the hit count goes up. Go figure.
- Blogging provides me an opportunity for scholarly interaction. I miss the seminars from the days of studying for my PhD. When I post a blog I sometimes receive incisive comments from others and the chance to interact. I have also witnessed this happen between others. I once posted on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and witnessed a vibrant debate between two of my readers.
- I think the future of scholarly publication is changing and blogging is one way in which information can be spread to others. While I think the peer review process is important and necessary, it can also be slow and cumbersome. Journal articles can sometimes languish for a couple of years until they see ink and paper. By that time the information may be old and/or the author is no longer interested in the topic. Blogging helps an author to share his or her work, get feedback and let people know what they are working on.
- Blogging helps me to keep in contact with my former students. It provides them a place to go where they can keep up on new trends and thoughts. It is also a place where they can read analysis of that information by qualified people.
- Finally, it is just plain fun.