A few years back, my friend Dan called me up on the phone, “John, I read your blog. I don’t usually. It’s mostly teacher stuff. But I read it. And you’ve got to get rid of the badge.”
“The Edublog one?”
“John, it’s a blog not a Cub Scout uniform,” he said.
“But it’s nice to be recognized,” I said.
“But it looks trashy next to a post on why you don’t agree with awards assemblies and passing out fried dough to kids who read books.”
November is my quiet time on Blogger and Twitter. It’s when I usually work on a novel or start an obscure blog that has nothing to do with education. It’s the time when the light dies while the education recognition system flips into hyper-drive (when the “best of” lists start coming out and when the Edublog Awards transforms Twitter into an American Idol contest). Last year, I fell for it. I wanted to win. I wanted to hear that I mattered – not in a quiet voice of a friend but through the corporate megaphone of “followers” who cared enough about me to click on my name in the competition. I used the branding metaphor to describe how I could own my influence and spread my ideas of a humble revolution.
I had grown obsessive and arrogant and all the while claiming to want a humble revolution. I counted my Twitter followers. Would I pass two thousand? I added up my Klout score. Would it reach the forties? I counted my subscriber numbers. They were trending in a real positive way. But most of all, I wanted to win the Edublog Awards. To me, that would be the ultimate catalyst toward really putting me on top.
I’m not Jesus. I don’t need followers. I don’t need a metric to tell me that I have clout with someone. I don’t need to sound like the wisest badass in an #echochamber to matter. I get it. I really do. These are great marketing tools that can really help you with branding. But here’s the deal: I am not a brand. I am not a commodity. I am not a scannable item that someone can pick up at bargain basement prices. Any metric that isn’t human is a metric that isn’t worth following.
What I need instead are engaging questions challenging my presuppositions. I need to listen well to the voice of other writers. I need to be fully present as I play with my kids or share a meal with a neighbor or have coffee with a friend who will be bold enough to tell me that I look like a Cub Scout. I need to remember that blogging is about identity and expression, not RT’s and Klout scores.
Nice. As someone who has way less Twitter followers and a much lower Klout score I’m sure, you rock.
I love your expression of humanity — keep on rockin’ ’cause you Are a star!
I admit to suffering from occasional Badge Envy, too. I remind myself that distinction is one way that humans make sense of the world. But I also know lots more about who’s selected, promoted, chosen and celebrated in Virtual Ed World, and it ain’t always (or even usually) the most thoughtful, valuable and deserving. The same qualities that elevate people in the real world (gender, race, chutzpah, glamor, dogged persistence and accidents of fate, for example) are at work here, too. I also wish Americans didn’t have to turn absolutely everything into a race or contest.
Still–and I know you weren’t going for this–your posts are cream of the cream, in my opinion.
Great post, John. I discovered this in researching Klout and linked to it over at a post detailing my own weird experience with the site at: http://wp.me/p1UhOK-5 — I’d welcome yoru thoughts if you’d care to share. Keep the solid posts coming.
As you know, I nominate and have been nominated for the Edublog awards. While some may assume I have motives they find distasteful, the truth is I simply want to recognize and show appreciation for sites, posts, and people that I have learned from and enjoyed over the past year.
Last night there was a discussion on Twitter on how better to get recognition for these outstanding people other than through a contest. If something else develops that would be great. Then those who refuse to participate in these contests could still find a way to show their appreciation without winners and losers.
Often I do feel that the attitude towards contests both for and against often smack of elitism. I know you well enough to see that is not the case for you, but I still feel it seem to feel its presence online.
Amen, brother, amen.
Love this and like Nancy, I definitely suffer from occasional Badge Envy, etc. Then I look at blogs that completely overpromote themselves and their “worthiness” and am happy just the way I am.
Yes: we’re here for community, not an audience; let all our efforts reflect that.
This is great. What brought me here was this title of this post and the perspective you are taking. What has me reading more and coming back is your statement: “I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.” Badge? What badge?
Or (say it with me): “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”
Just to reiterate: I’m not opposed to the Edublog Awards. I’m not against being recognized or recognizing others. It’s just something about the awards, or scores or lists – it all stirs up an insecurity that isn’t good for me. The problem isn’t with the process, but with me.
Intriguing and interesting post. I must agree with you on Klout scores, it’s just ridiculous. On the other hand, I think Edublog Awards and a high number of followers on Twitter, are great ways to be heard by a larger audience. What I do think, as tacky as it may sound, with great power comes great responsibility. It’s about being yourself but also learning, changing and sharing with others via Twitter and blogs. With 2k followers, your audience will also expect more from you and, even though it’s still about being who you are at the end of the day, we always write for an audience, even if that audience is yourself, it’s always good for this audience to be more than just yourself, don’t you think? After all, it’s ‘social’ media.
Sadly, I’m one of those slutty badge lovers. Yeah. I admit it. I like those stinkin badges! There’s no shame in my game. I blogged for years…years! Without seeing one comment or much traffic and I kept at it – but honestly, the biggest trip is just being part of the community of educators – that’s really what drives me. Sure the badges are purty (I got kicked out of the girl scouts so maybe I’m over compensating!) I’ve been nominated & never won – I’m the Susan Lucci of Librarians!
But seriously, what I get out of the Eddies is a crowdsourced vibrant list of amazing educators who are sure to inspire me. (that’s how I found YOUR TeachPaperlessblog before!) New voices, new thoughts, and yeah…it’s silly that we secretly love/hate them but how else would we generate that kinda list & give new bloggers the incentive to keep at it!? (as for that Klout thing?…that’s just damn silly & I have no truck with that)
My two cents!
The Daring Librarian
Hey! I just remembered….I nominated YOU last year for Edublogs! LOL
“Best teacher blog: John T. Spencer – Spencer’s Scratchpad – Candid, creative, and curious – Mr. Spencer shares his triumphs and failures with us all.” http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2010/11/edublog-awards-2010-nominations.html
For some people I think the nomination is the prize not actually winning it.I’m new to Blogging. I ask that my students take risks and go beyond their comfort zone and I figured it was time I do it myself. A natural introvert, Blogging is a painful process for me. I spend a lot of time writing the post, then more time plucking up the courage to post it and lastly an inordinate amount of time waiting anxiously to see if anybody reads it or dares to care about what I wrote.From my perspective, a nomination would be validation-someone saying ,” I’m listening, I care, keep going.”I don’t need the nomination, I’m not looking to solicit one, I’m just saying that a badge isn’t just for cub scouts. 🙂
I’m glad to hear someone thinking like this. It’s great to be recognized, but recognition isn’t what it’s all about. It’s a labor of love. Sharing. Learning from others. Doing something for the greater good.