The Risk of Publishing

I got my iPad last week.  <pause>

Okay, I may have been the last in my PLN to have one, but none the less, I do.  Much like Will Richardson and David Warlick, I am happy with mine, but understand its capacity to do much more will come with newer versions of the operating system.  Knowing that the ability to multi-task is coming, I was able to get over the lack of a camera pretty quickly once I held it in my hands.  It’s a wonderfully comfortable device with the incredible ability to help me to connect to my PLN.

One of the areas of personal development that I have been slow to join has been the use of eReaders and while I have never been an avid “book” reader (have much preferred magazines over books and the ability to watch a documentary over reading its script) I do have a moderate sized library, many of the same books that other educators have, but I knew that it begged for expansion.  Purposefully, I’ve been slow to expand it with traditional paper books, instead waiting for the opportunity to use an eReader, which my iPad has now afforded.

The first app I put on my new iPad was the Kindle app (following Will and Scott Mcleod’s suggestion) with the first purchase shortly thereafter being Clay Shirky’s new book, Cognative Surplus.  First, I want to comment on my reading experience, then I will comment on something Shirky wrote in his book.

I’m not sure I will every by a paper book again.  First, the text is so easy to read, the light is perfect (and the amount light in the room is irrelevant)and the iPad fits very comfortably in my hand either as I sit or lay down.  Physically, it is pleasing.  When folks talk about not wanting to give up books, they speak longingly of the physicality of holding the book, of turning the page, of being able to put their fingers between two pages to hold their spot.   While the iPad doesn’t fulfill any of those tactile needs, I didn’t miss them.  In fact, because of its size and its crystal clear screen, I found it very comfortable and easy to read in a variety of reading positions.

When I used to read a paper book, I would write notes, mark it up, highlight, dog ear, etc.  There was a learning piece to all of that for me.  Those tactile events helped to keep me active and engaged in the learning.  What most excites me about the Kindle App, however, is the ability to not only highlight and take notes just like a physical book, but, as Will points out, all of those notes and highlights are saved to my personal webpage at Amazon.com.  Additionally, however, not only can I see my notes, but I can see all of the highlights and notes from other readers of the book.  Reading with my eReader is more social than reading with a physical book.  It’s the equivalent of a 24/7 book club, except that everyone is actually reading the book.  All I can think about is a class of students equipped with iPads loaded with the Kindle App reading, highlighting, taking notes, and more importantly sharing their points with every other person reading the same book (regardless of location).

Now, on to Shirky’s book, which I am enjoying thoroughly.  Early in the book, Shirky lays out his argument for amateurism and how it eventually leads to increased productivity, creativity, and a higher level of overall professionalism (He makes an abridged version of that argument in this Wall Street Journal article.)  As Shirky wrote, the printing press increased the production of books, not just old stories being reprinted, but new stories (novels) that no one had ever heard of or read before.  This lead to the possibility that books might not be popular to which Shirky wrote, “Indeed, shouldering the possibility that a book might be unpopular marks the transition from printers (who made copies of hallowed works) to publishers (who took on the risk of novelty).”

The parallels to what I am trying to do through Transleadership are remarkable.  The arguments made by professional writers is that us “amateurs” do not have the expertise to vet, write and publish and while I agree that I am not the writer that most columnists and “professional” bloggers are, I assume the risk of publishing through this blog.  It is, in fact, that risk that drive me to continue to write and write as well as I can.  It is that risk that forces me to reflect, write, rethink and rewrite.  It is that risk that forces me to continue to think and write harder than I ever have before.  Knowing that friends and foes alike are reading, thinking and commenting on my writing reminds me that I need to write as flawlessly as my capacity allows, reminds me that my PLN is my classroom and it’s members are both fellow learners and teachers, and it reminds me to continue to push my son to write in his blog, and to get my two daughter’s writing their own now that they are a bit older.

Publishing on Transleadership was a risk, one that took me some time to assume, but as I approach 1 year of blogging, I can’t help but realize it has made me a better writer, thinker and learner.

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