On Writing Without Links in a Time of Linking. And Also About Collaboration

I’m sitting on my couch tonight as I write, trying to compose with my iPad. It’s a neat device – I enjoy reading, watching TV, taking notes at meetings ((If anyone can enjoy taking notes at meetings, that is.)), and all sorts of applications. But one thing the iPad isn’t so good at is as a device for writing blog posts. I like to move back and forth between several windows when I compose blog posts, and, more and more, anything that I write. I dash hyperlinks into what I write like Alton Brown tosses salt into recipes. And when the salt is out of reach, well, it feels like I’m making a different dish.

I’m wondering if hyperlinks have happened to you like they’ve happened to me. When I write and I can’t stick a link into the text to further clarify an adjective or an adverb, to give the reader background information, or to accomplish a number of other really helpful writing tasks, well, it feels like I’m not allowed to use letters in the alphabet.

That said, well, I reckon there are still things to say without hyperlinks. So here goes.
I had the opportunity to cross Twitter paths with Steve Barkley ((@stevebarkley on Twitter. Very wise fellow.)) this evening, as he was speaking to the difficulties of collaboration. Not the Web 2.0ish kind, as Darren Draper ((A tech director in Utah. Google him. Smart dude.)) referenced during the Twitter back and forth, but actually, honest to goodness collaboration. According to Steve ((Trust me again. He really tweeted this. If only I could easily link to it)), true collaboration requires two things: ((I’d cut and past his exact words, but that would require exiting this application, which might cause me to lose some text, so just bear with my paraphrase. Please.)) shared responsibility and feeling empowered to act.

And he’s right about both of those.

I think that, too often, I’m reading folks who would say that collaboration is so easy now. And that’s bogus. The act of sharing is wicked easy, but collaboration, as Steve describes it, is really, really hard. Incredibly hard. ((Worth doing, though. When the necessary conditions exist.))
As far as sharing goes, well, if I weren’t sitting on my couch with this handy little iPad, I might point you to Steve’s blog post, the one where he outlines some of his recent work on sharing. That post reminded me of some of the struggles that Michelle ((I can’t even use just her first name in a world without hyperlinks. I’ve got to tell you that I’m referring to Michelle Bourgeois. Her blog is called “Milobo’s Musings.” Perhaps you can find it in a Google search, as I can’t link to it right now, what with the limitations here and all.)) and I have been facing lately as we work to build and support teams of teacher around the district. It’s that work, in fact, which prompted me to tell Steve that I think empowerment comes from two places – the top down and from within. As he responded back, both are necessary for change.

I feel a bit subversive saying this ((And I shouldn’t, because it’s true that there are many agents in any organization. And they all, students included, have (and should exercise) their agency.)), but I really find that the best efforts for change do come from the top down and the bottom up. Simultaneously. That’s how lightning works, too. ((I’d like to link right there to a YouTube video of a slow motion lightning strike. But I can’t. Not easily. Because, you know. iPad. Unitasker.))

Huh. I guess I can write just fine with an iPad. No problems whatsoever. ((The iPad, as a writing tool, isn’t quite ready yet. Thank goodness for footnotes.))

9 thoughts on “On Writing Without Links in a Time of Linking. And Also About Collaboration

  1. I like the lightning reference, Bud, and I agree that collaboration must empower everyone, although sometimes, it takes one person to get the collaboration moving. So maybe power isn’t really always equal, nor should it be.
    Writing without links is sort of like writing a comment at a blog. It’s just naked words with no associative dressing.
    It made me wonder about the ways in which online writing is changing the way we may be writing. Or not. Not sure.

    1. Bud Hunt says:

      I wonder how writing is changing, too. And your mention of comments makes me wonder if I can enable WYSIWYG comment editing. Seems fair. Hmm.

  2. Kyle says:

    Enjoyed your comments in the footnotes. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the bits on collaboration. I’m working on a post about student collaboration and this information was helpful. For a lot of students, especially young ones like my kindergartener, collaboration is a skill that seems to come almost naturally. Seems to me that this dwindles as they get older and trying to pinpoint that on a specific factor(s) is difficult.

  3. November… they promise November.

  4. Your friend’s explanation of collaboration hit me like a fist as I was reading your blog. Lately I have been lamenting the lack of successful collaborations that I have had with people who work in my district. Part of the reason might lie in your friend’s comments about empowerment. For some reason, where I work empowerment to act is sometimes viewed as arrogance or posturing or something. Everyone around here is struggling for power, but no one wants to give the perception that they have it. Its infuriating. So the status quo remains in place. Paradoxically I have had some very successful virtual collaborations with people I have never met in person. Do you think this is because in the virtual world the power struggle is marginalized? Why do people I’ve never met seem more willing to listen?

  5. I have been known to worry that blogging has ruined me. There was a time, before the blog, when I sat on my bed for an hour every morning and wrote, longhand, in a notebook. If I were to try that now, I’d quit within minutes and blog it instead.

    But hyperlinking is a grammatical convention now, like commas, like indents. And the prospect of having to write without using the hyperlink for support–that just doesn’t even sound _fun_ to me. And online writing that lacks hyperlinks feels like writing I can’t trust.

  6. Bud Hunt says:

    That’s just it. I’m not sure I trust myself when I don’t use hyperlinks, either.

  7. I wonder if this helps to explain why bloggers are so unlikely to comment on other people’s blogposts–if they can’t hyperlink, they’re not interested.

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