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Thursday, May 19, 2005

On blogging 

Another thing on the list of things I've been meaning to blog about is a reflection on why I blog, and now seems like as good a time as any.

I started blogging for a number of predominantly selfish reasons. Back in February 2004 I knew no one who was applying to Business School and barely anyone with an MBA. I was approaching the B-school application experience from the isolation of my corners of the world, and I could see the advantages to connecting with other people putting themselves through the same thing. I'd stumbled across the B-week forums (thankfully after I'd taken my GMAT, decided the result was good enough, and thrown my books away), found blogs via there, and had seen the mutual support there was between bloggers, as well as, of course, finding their experiences both informative and fascinating. So blogging seemed like a good way to make the application experience less isolated. I also thought it would be a method of working through my ideas and practicing putting them into words before I shaped them into essays. More altruistically/egotistically, I thought I could maybe add something to the totality of B-school blogging viewpoints. There weren't many women blogging (how things change!), few non-profit types, no Brits that I knew of. And then there was the "well, why not?" factor, which has been the rationale (if you can call it that) of some of my best decisions in life.

The experience of blogging has been, to unashamedly use a cliche (and split an infinitive), everything I hoped it would be and more. The application experience was far from isolated. I've felt part of a very real, if virtual, community with which I've shared problems, wrestled with ideas, pooled advice and passed on lessons learnt. I've felt genuine excitement and disappointment for my fellow bloggers as decisions have come in, and have been immeasurably buoyed by them and everyone who's left me a comment or sent me an e-mail. I think my applications were better for having blogged, and I think the blogging process has enriched me just as much as the application process. I've also got a written record of the whole thing that I can look back on. Not to mention that there's something strangely addictive about pouring words into cyberspace, and a wonderful freedom to having total control over something which, as hbar observed in my comments, is very akin to a newspaper column (except without an editor to write me a pay cheque, or a sub to make it look like my GMAT verbal score was justified).

Even though I know how much I've gained from reading about the application and student experiences of other people, I still find it strange that people read and respond to these blatherings. It is, of course, terribly flattering and a great ego stroke to have people formally say that they like what you do, but I get worried by terms like 'best'. I'm with wakechick on this one. To my mind, the 'best of blogging' is in its totality, rather than in any individual contribution. We all come from different backgrounds, have different perspectives, and are looking in different directions. The person who's a bit like us speaks to us, as does the person who's studying where we want to study, or going to/coming from a career that interests us. But so too do the people with a completely different take on things, those who surprise us with an idea, or who challenge us to take a fresh look. The viewpoint of one person on studying for the GMAT, or writing a particular essay, or preparing for an interview gives us a certain amount of useful information, but it's when you combine it with those of other people that you get real value - what does one person say that another doesn't touch on? where do people agree, where do they differ and why? what can I take from this mass of information that is relevant to me? One person alone can only contribute so much, lots of people together give much more.

To anyone reading b-school blogs, I'd say keep up with as many as you can get away with without being fired / made to sleep on the sofa / causing your cat to leave you. And to anyone writing one (or thinking about it), the intrinsic rewards add more than extrinsic recognition, nice as that is.

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