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Comments are the Marshmallows

Did you know General Mills, as part of a contest, is giving away 10,000 boxes of Lucky Charms? Marshmallows only! My middle-aged common sense says I need to resist this temptation, but a little space deep in my reptilian brain is screaming, "Gotta have it!"



Some of you may have noticed my posts have become a bit infrequent. Where are my words going? Where am I sharing perspective? Where am I asking profound questions? 

I have been spending more time in the comments section of your blogs. You may be asking, "what's Schuetz's angle here?"

If you believe in the theory and math behind Reed's Law, ( 2N − N − 1 ) then you know that the potential utility of social networks depends on all members contributing to the network. As Dean Shareski says, "It's about the sharing." Those who have mapped their web usage, inspired by David White, know resident behavior in digital places is based on interaction and deeper levels of engagement. Engaging in a conversation with others on Pinterest about gardening techniques is more interactive than copying boards to our walls. Interaction is the ninety-three octane fueling our online communities.

Several years ago, when my body allowed me to practice martial arts, I learned that I was more efficient with counters. Often, I would bait my sparring partner into making a move so I could take advantage of the opening created by their attack. Blog comments, of course, shouldn't be considered pugilistic. Interestingly, I learned I get greater satisfaction from commenting on something someone else has posted. My comments typically focus on three areas; appreciation for the post and how it impacted me, asking questions about the topic to attain clarity or to add my perspective to the piece. Interaction is the key for me.

I moderate the comments on my blog because there seems to be a lot of people out there selling stuff. I completely support free enterprise, just not on my blog. Some bloggers, like Audrey Watters, don't allow comments. Hack Education is as thought-provoking as it is opinionated, but I always come away thinking about something I haven't thought about before. Watters, like some other bloggers, primarily women, have disabled comments as a result of being on the receiving end of degrading, sexist, and threatening remarks. It's a shame because her posts invite reaction and commentary. Deeper insight, Watters, by not enabling comments, is encouraging us to create and cultivate proprietary web spaces, places for our thoughts and stories, a domain of one's own.

Some bloggers who allow comments, don't respond to them. I suppose there are reasons, but I don't really understand putting out the invitation to engage and then ignoring the respondents. Bill Ferriter is one of my favorite teaching and blogging dudes (respectfully). He not only acknowledges and responds to comments, but he also turns key ideas into graphics and follow-up posts. If you are not reading the Tempered Radical, you're missing out. His honesty, transparency, and commitment to learning are qualities I admire. He took my comment about 1:1 devices and turned it into this post about the challenges of classroom innovation. Thus, generating more comments, the conversation extended to Twitter. This was Reed's Law personified, and for me, it was pretty darn cool!

Comments are like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, the sugary goodness that adds flavor to our day. Comments turn posts into conversations. Sometimes, these conversations turn into friendships, and sometimes these friendships span the globe. I've never met Aaron Davis in person. Criminy, he's a half a world away! But it feels as if he lives right next door. We regularly comment on each other's posts. We have shared interests, we see the value in engaging with other learners, are we in a committed blogging relationship? I'm not sure what to call it, but the crunchy goodness of ReadWriteRespond is part of my nutritious meal each morning. Is there is a collaborative project in our future, who knows?

If you are still on the fence about blogging, maybe you could make a month-long commitment to posting at least one comment each day. Sharing your voice, adding power to your network, inviting interaction, and building relationships are all right there for you. Just remember to play nice and eat a good breakfast.

Photo Credit: By Sarah Mahala Photography & Makeup Artistry from Oshkosh, WI, United States (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Comments

laurie banks said…
Thank you for your insight. I had never thought about responses being part of the blogging experience. I took the pieces of inspiration and left. I accept your challenge to comment every day for a month. This will be interesting. I wonder who will learn more, the bloggers or me.

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