Apologia pro blogging-hiata sua

Somewhat without my being aware of it, this blog has been pretty quiet for a while – indeed I have mainly been reblogging other people’s content or posts from my other blog .

 

There are a few reasons for this. Primarily, my involvement in the CCIO and specifically the Lighthouse Projects has obviously taken up more of my time.

 

Secondly, to a certain degree this blog’s original intention of being a personal archive of my more medically themed writing has reached a little bit of a stop – most of what I can easily access of my own writing has already been posted. There is still quite a bit of stuff I have written for the Irish Medical Times and Eurotimes which I have not full access to, but the interest of this may be limited. There are also some academic papers I have written. However most of the purely medical writing I have done which is readily accessible is now somewhere on this blog.

 

Thirdly, both this blog and my other one were  intended as purely personal fora for working out ideas and to find common themes in my writing. With both, I have found a more public purpose also. On the Seamus Sweeney blog I have found myself exploring my interest in nature more and more, and dipping my toe in the world of nature blogging .In a way, the blog has helped me notice that this interest is more than an “interest” but something vital and key for me. Here, the blog has been a forum to discuss meetings I have been to and in particular my journey into CCIO land , as well as bookmarking paper that seem interesting (or just odd)

Finally (for now), I practice medicine as Séamus Mac Suibhne and for everything else, including non-medical writing, I am Séamus Sweeney. This developed not through any design on my part but simply because my birth cert is in Irish, therefore my degree, therefore my Medical Council registration and so on. However, one wouldn’t have to be any sort of psychotherapist to interpret this split in all sorts of interesting ways, some of which might even be correct. Of late I have noticed a bit of a convergence of interests between Séamus Mac and Séamus S, most evident here by the reblogging of pieces from one blog on the other. So perhaps this dichotomy may be closing.

I am hoping in the coming weeks to be able to blog a little bit more here. On the Lighthouse Projects in particular I hope to have some exciting announcements. I can also reveal that I have been given a copy of Helen Pearson’s Life Project to review.

 

Reflections on this blog

Narcissistic as it is, I am thinking about this blog and its purpose. Originally, this was simply a personal curatorial project (as described in the original “Hello World” post WordPress helpfully sets up)  to try and identify common threads in my writings about medicine. I didn’t really think of any readership or wider dissemination.

It has evolved to be something else. I have tended to use this to post on various meetings, papers, and books I have read, with a medical focus. In particular I have posted on meetings such as the AMEE Hackathon and the CCIO . My CCIO role has developed somewhat and it is possible my blogging here may reflect this.

Blogging has been a more positive experience for me than it was in the past  – I have certainly found it a helpful medium to clarify my thoughts on various topics. It is also interesting that some posts have struck some kind of chord. I did not intend this blog initially to be what it has become. It will be interesting to see where things go.

Psychiatry and Society blog – 2008-2011

This is far from my first effort at blogging. There was a blog about classical music concerts in Dublin which may still exist out there. There has been a now defunct blog on the University of Warwick site entitled “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” There was a blog called “Taytoman Agonistes” which still exists – it was basically a commonplace book. There has been Scarface Project, , which I tried to get people interested in There has been Alarm Logos of Dublin, which I also have tried to get people interested in

And there was Psychiatry and Society , which was linked with a series of lectures of the same name I organised for UCD undergraduate medical students. The blog was the subject of academic research as you can read here. To quote that abstract in full:

Blogs have achieved immense popularity in recent years. The interactive nature of blogs and other web-based tools seem consonant with contemporary pedagogical theories regarding student engagement, learner-centred teaching and deep learning. The literature on the use of blogs in education and in particular medical education has focused largely on their potential use rather than the practical experience of medical educators.

We designed a series of teaching sessions designed to explore the interface between psychiatry, mental health, and wider social issues.  To complement this course, a blog specifically designed to provide extra information on the material covered was produced, and to act as a forum for discussion. A widely available, free-to-access web based tool was used to create and design the blog. One of the course tutors was the administrator, and invited the other tutors and lecturers from the course to write on the blog. The blog was publicised at the students’ lectures, at which all the students were present, and via the students’ eLearning platform.

To fully assess the effectiveness of the blog in helping students achieve the learning objectives, quantitative measurements are required. A focus group of students was formed to explore medical students’ use of blogs for educational purposes in general, and the use of this blog in particular. These findings, and reflections on the use of the blog from the lecturer’s point of view, are presented

And that’s more or less what we did. The main “reflection” that has stuck with me in the years since was a comment from a participant that she preferred books as they were more interactive than online resources; you can simply underline, highlight and generally write on a book. This has stayed with me as an example of the paradox that “interactive” technology is “interactive” in very specific, designed ways.

The blog is still there in all its Blogspot glory. There isn’t all that much evidence of student interactivity, except here, predictably enough in a post about faith and delusion. I didn’t realise that there have been comments left in more recent years. I am not sure if any make all that much sense, even the ones which aren’t spam (and which are written in the patented Mr Angry YOU ARE JUST WRONG style so common in internet discourse)

Looking through the blog overall, I don’t find much that deserves to survive the inevitable disappearance of blogspot in a few years. I did come across this  amusing story again which reminds me of something else entirely I will (probably) post here. Looking back ,there is a tension between the blog as a sort of electronic notice board (ie lecture A will be on date B) and my attempts to post contact that would evoke comment. This never really panned out. I deliberately kept a lid on prolixity and looked for topics that I thought would be interesting for a diverse group of medical students. Of course, in retrospect, it would have been best to enlist a group of medical students to actually blog themselves. Those days have come and gone, and Web 2.0 is rather old hat now, but it was an interesting experiment.