Happy 2009!

I did some counting yesterday. Totalled up all of the blog posts and comments on those posts for the last three years, and found a pretty interesting relationship. Seems the less I write, the more people comment. (Click the picture to view my first “pencast” on the subject and to get the numbers if you want them.)

Hmmmm…

Now I know that there may be a host of explanations for this, and certainly, the reasons for the reduced number of posts at least are pretty obvious to me. In order, my work with PLP, the craziness of my schedule last year, the desire to spend time playing with kids vs. blogging when not on the road, and Twitter. In short, I’m just not the blogger that I used to be by more than half over three years ago if you’re just totaling up the numbers. Yet, somewhat surprisingly to me, there’s more conversation. I know this isn’t just happening here; it’s not unusual to find comment threads of over 25 or 30 in various places around the edublogosphere. And while I’d like to think that my ideas are getting more compelling or stickier (or maybe more debatable), I think most of it is just Twitter. The somewhat bizarre reality of my Twitter existence is that it’s become a tool to drive readers here. (In fact, I’d love to be able to see what percentage of people commenting come here via Twitter…I’d be willing to guess at least a third.) That’s not a bad thing, per se, but I wonder if that’s really the direction I want to be moving in.

I’ve suggested here many times that I think the size of the audience for these conversations (loosely, very loosely defined as those having to do with how learning and schools change in the context of social Web tools) is still amazingly small. I still believe that. I’d sincerely love to hear how others view this, but my own very general estimation is that maybe, maybe 5% of the educational professionals in this country are compelled enough by these shifts to think seriously about changing their own personal and professional learning practice. Maybe. When I think of that in raw numbers, even 350,000 feels high. Really high. You’d think with 350,000 we’d have some sort of organized movement or conversation. If anyone can tell me where it exists, please let me know.

So, looking forward, I’m still in the same place in terms of where I want to spend more of my energies…not so much on the people who have already showed up, but on the people who don’t know that this production is even playing. Sure, presenting and speaking can accomplish some of that. But if you take the aggregate effect of all of us supposed idea peddlars, I’m not sure that’s where substantive change is happening. (That’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to the PLP model…sustained PD not just drive by.) I wonder this: what would happen if 5% of the 150 million or so parents in this country started thinking about this stuff? What if we had 7.5 million or so in some coordinated effort to rethink this system that is serving us so well? Possible? I think it’s something worth continuing to explore. And maybe collectively, we do have the reach, the networks to have some real effect on policy…assuming we can coordinate a message. More to come on that…

Along those lines, one of my goals for this year is to continue to write offline for print, for magazines, another book, and any other ways I can think of to bring more voices in. And in that process, I really want to try to extend myself as a writer. (I’d love to start a “Craft of Writing/Blogging/Essay” group or something if anyone is interested.) So that trend line for my blogging may continue downward in 2009, perhaps not as steeply, but downward nonetheless.

Sincere thanks to all of you who participated, commented, read in 2008. Here’s to even greater learning in 2009…