This is in response to a survey by Alice Bell about education bloggers

Blog URL

I contribute to my team’s work blog and I have a personal blog, fragments of amber, where this post is published. Links to both are available on my flavors.me page http://flavors.me/amber_thomas.

What do you blog about?

Team Work Blog: I blog about my work: projects, events and areas of interest. That is things like digital learning materials, digital infrastructure, intellectual property, openness and some other topics.

Personal: I blog thoughts about work that are a bit more opinionated, and I blog about issues around technology that fall outside my role at work, some politics, and some more personal stuff.

Are you paid to blog?

I’m not paid to blog, but I see contributing to my team blog as part of my job.

What do you do professionally (other than blog)?

I’m a programme manager which means I design, commission, oversee and develop work that other people do! So my job is very networked. I see myself as a knowledge worker.

I often write for work but it’s things like reports, plans, evaluations: objectivity is really important. And sometimes for work I need to write for guidance purposes: clarity, advisory, aiming at certainty.

How long have you been blogging at this site?

I started a blog in January 2005 on my mum, Sue Thomas’s, suggestion. She actually gifted me a blog as she was already a keen blogger by then (she’s always ahead of me). But lack of focus and then two babies intervened, and I didn’t start in earnest until 2010 with a personal post about babies . I found a tone of voice that was personal, discursive and a bit humorous with that. My first important work blog post was “The O in OER”  (Dec 2010). I confess that I sought help on that post from an excellent blogger who knows about the area, Tony Hirst . I’ve had a lot of encouragement from colleagues too. I’ve found my voice and my pace now, I think.

I think my personal and work blogging are very connected, sometimes I’m not sure where to publish a post.

Do you write in other platforms? (e.g. in a print magazine?)

I sometimes contribute to papers, journal articles, newsletter pieces and webpages, depending on what i need to do at work.

Can you remember why you started blogging?

In earnest, 2010, to express myself, I think. To have a focus for articulating my thoughts and to find my own voice. I blogged about why I blog a while back and there are some interesting comments!

What keeps you blogging?

I’m continuing to think about it, and I have recently realised that permitted subjectivity is part of it. For work I have to aim at being objective, analytical and rational, and/or at being clear and directive. A blog post allows me to be more discursive, and a bit more opinionated. I want to back my opinions up, but I also want to have a voice. Both blogs are an expression of me, of me making sense of things and sharing that. Sensemaking needs to be subjective, I think. I thought about this in mapmakers and storytellers: how does someone communicate how the world looks to them? Those questions about subjectivity and sensemaking have stuck with me. I love it when people blog their uncertainties and questions. I also sometimes love a bit of rhetoric, a strong voice or story told with conviction though I don’t enjoy rhetoric that I don’t agree with: its only satisfying when it reinforces my own views. Choosing the right voice with which to capture the point I’m at in my own sensemaking is a key part of the process.

Do you have any idea of the size or character if your audience? How?

I am always interested in who retweets my posts (work and personal). I think my returning readership is probably quite small, but some work posts get reused as content elsewhere. I shared some numbers in why I blog .

What’s your attitude to/ relationship with people who comment on your blog?

I love comments. A couple of times I’ve felt I’m being wilfully misinterpreted and baited by people I know. Usually though, it’s hugely rewarding to get positive comments from people I don’t know. Often my commenters are other bloggers I know, and I’m already having a conversation with them on twitter or facebook. But basically I LOVE comments.

Do you feel as if you fit into any particular community, network or genre of blogging? (e.g. schools, science, education, museums, technology)

Technology and education. More broadly I very much feel part of the public sector and like to read other public sector work blogs.

If so, what does that community give you?

The intersect between technology and education is very multidisciplinary, which suits me because I’m neither a techie or a teacher! People in this space talk about politics, economics, sociology, psychology, history… as a personal with a philosophy background it is a space I find dynamic and one that I feel I can have a voice in. For me, my blogging is very much connected to my tweeting. A blog post is a larger contribution to a social conversation, but I am usually responding to things bubbling around in my social/work network.

What do you think are the advantages of blogging? What are its disadvantages/ limitations?

There have been times I’ve blogged for work instead of waiting for the standard communications processes to kick in. That messes up planning. But when i’ve written it I tend to want to post it straight away.

More examples of advantages on why I blog, for example:

“When I blogged an extract of a funding Call I’d released (Post: OER Rapid Innovation Extract) I unleashed the power of trackbacks. The director of a project in the US contacted me to correct an error. Not only did he see a reference to his project that would otherwise have been locked inside a PDF, but he was able to correct an error within an hours of the post going live. And now I follow him on twitter”

Do you tell people you know offline that you’re a blogger? (e.g. your grandmother, your boss)

Most of my family are tweeters and bloggers! I sometimes link to my posts on facebook so they reach a nonwork audience that way. But some of my close friends have never seen any of my posts.

Is there anything else you want to tell me about I haven’t asked?

I’ve deliberately written this without reading anyone else’s responses. No doubt now I read them I’ll realise what else I should have said!

Amber

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