Jeffery Zeldman, one one of the country’s leading web designers, wrote this morning about continuing to learn, and in the process nailed what I see blogging as all about.
When I shared what I was learning, by writing about it—when I learned what I was learning by teaching it—I felt euphoric. We were at the dawn of a new kind of information age: one that came from the people, and to which anyone could contribute merely by learning a few simple HTML elements. It was going to be great. And democratic. And empowering. Our tech would uplift the whole suffering world.
Zeldman’s been blogging, in various formats, about tech and development for decades. Yet the concept of blogging Zeldman speaks of is the same for legal professionals.
Blogging may just be the best way to learn you have at your disposal. After all, many of the the better legal bloggers are not blogging to show off intellect, intellect being more of a commodity than legal professionals believe. They’re sharing what they are learning, as away of learning in and of itself.
Blog what you’re reading and following. Share your take – “I share this because” or “I took this from what she’s saying here.”
What Zeldman was learning years ago was not easy, but the years have masked the pain. Most importantly, Zeldman was blogging and learning for a noble reason – himself.
Most of all, I falsely remember it being easy to learn HTML, CSS, and Photoshop because I wanted to learn those things. I was doing it for me, not for a job, and certainly not to keep up.
I was a pioneer—we all were, back then. I was passionate about the possibilities of the web and eager to contribute.
Back in 2004, I had not a clue what SEO (search engine optimization) was all about. Listening to someone speak about SEO made me nauseous. It was too hard, I’d never be able to learn how it worked.
But I was starting a blogging company for lawyers as a way for lawyers to connect with people in a real and authentic way. Something I believed then, and still do, was needed for people to find and trust a good lawyer. I needed to know SEO.
This cause drove me to Barnes and Noble where I picked up SEO for Dummies. Over a July 4th weekend, I read the book twice and outlined what I learned. Finally I blogged what I was learning in a series of posts.
Reading and outlining was good, but the blogging part which meant reading again what I was going to share, thinking about what I was going to blog, relaying it through my fingers on the keyboard and then reviewing/editing my copy on the screen turned out to be the best method of learning SEO. This knowledge of SEO has stuck with me to this day.
Zeldman says the same more succinctly.
With every new discovery I made and shared, I felt a sense of mastery and control, and a tingling certainty that I was physically contributing to a better world of the near-future. A world forged in the best tech ever: simple, human-readable HTML.
With age, 23 years since I started sharing online what I was reading, comes the continuing need to blog for learning.
Foe you as a legal professional, blogging is not just for the new associates or junior associates looking to build a book of business.
At my age, change comes harder than it used to. Guess what? That means I need to change, not just to do my job; I need to change to stay young. (No, that’s not science, but yes, it works.) When it’s hard to move, you need to start exercising, even if starting is hard. When you’re trapped in a dead-end relationship, it’s time to say goodbye, even though breaking up is sad and scary and hard as hell. And if you work in tech and find yourself thinking your past learning gets you off the hook from having to learn new things, you need to think again.
Learning new things is hard, and it gets harder if you’re rusty at it, but it gets easier if you keep at it. Or so I tell myself, and my friends tell me.
Blogging can be tough, but you can do it – if the cause is strong enough – you.
And what Zeldman says about learning development applies to learning blogging.
You can do this, because I can, and I’m more stubborn and more full of myself than you ever were.
So to my old-school sisters and brothers in HTML. If you’re struggling to learn new things today so you can do your job better tomorrow, I’m going to tell you what a friend told me this morning:
“You got this.”
Blogging 15 years ago came easy to me. I was building a company, a company that I thought could bring real positive change to the legal industry.
I shared what I was learning – as I sure as heck didn’t know anything about blogging at the time.
Blogging was a conversation, people I referenced in my blog posts provided their take in response on their blog. Like Zeldman says, it was the dawn of a new information age, a democratic one where everyone could participate. We were all learning together. It was easy to be excited.
Social media, when used poorly, and blogging for content marketing have since created a lot of noise. People all over who have little interest in using the Internet to share what they are learning to advance themselves.
But blogging for you, and me, – to learn, to find out what we know – still works.
I need to get on the wagon more often. We all do.