I write a lot about the benefits of blogging as a learning tool and have done a great deal of thinking about what gets people motivated to start blogging. An email I received yesterday from Sarah Cook Curtis reminded me that sometimes learning to use a new technology can come from an incredibly personal (and somewhat painful) place.
Sarah's email had the subject line "Thank You" and said this (with her permission):
I just wanted to take a moment and thank you. We spoke on the phone a couple of years ago now after you responded to a post I'd put on on trdev. You were so kind and helpful. But the project I was working on got panned etc. et al. Then sometime in Jan (I think), I saw a post or reply from you on trdev and saw your blog. I started reading it ferociously and then discovered your glass ceiling blog. While reading them I was having a rough time at work(have since a parted with the organization which was great), I wanted to use a lot of the technology you were writing about. At that time I just wasn't able to see how I could use it professionally, but I wanted to learn.
About 4 weeks ago my father's health took a huge nose dive. While he'd been sick for quite some time the speed at which he started to fail was incredible. My dad was a computer programmer and then a trainer and he loved technology. Though he was a mainframe dude at heart he loved that I was exploring Web 2.0. So to make a long story short, I started a blog. It was a blog to start sharing stories and memories of my father while he was alive. To celebrate life, family and community. It's been a wonderful experience for me. Thanks so much. This is the power of Web 2.0, you were inspiring me way up here in CT.
Here's the blog it continues and I uploaded a video i made today. I'll keep learning. therojopelo.blogspot.com
My father passed yesterday and I didn't want to keep intending to thank you for your inspriration, I wanted to do it.
Best wishes and thank you,
Sarah Cook Curtis
I emailed Sarah immediately, offering my condolences and appreciation for her taking the time to write me such an incredible email in the middle of her own personal sadness. I asked for her permission to share what she'd written because it touched me so much to see how she'd used blogging as a way to celebrate her father's life and to connect to him through the technology. It also seemed like the learning process itself was healing for her. This morning I received this response:
Please feel free to share any and all. I created the blog to celebrate my father's life while he was alive. So often people are memorialized and stories are left unshared. I also created the blog to learn how to do it. I learn a little bit every day.
My father was a who became a computer programming trainer. he worked mostly in the insurance industry and he loved technology. Originally he asked me to just post the obituary to the website for my mother's healthfood store www.champlions.com, but then as he started to explain to me what I needed to do that sounded really complicated. So I decided to just get the blog up and running, it's full intention only came to me as I laid restlessly one evening. I asked his permission and off we went. It was great to show him the title picture and share the stories with him. (I still plan on tackling the website thing)!
The blog has also been great for my family. My fathers siblings live in , . Luckily they were all able to be here with my father as he passed. But now they have a living experience that they can share with their friends. That's just great.
I see lots of great things I can do and directions that I can go in from this experience.
Btw, we also used google docs to work collaboratively in writing the obituary.
Sometimes learning and technology intersect in some really personal spaces. I hope that blogging continues to help Sarah and her family through a difficult time and I'm incredibly grateful that she shared her story. For people who think that technology somehow makes us less connected on a human, personal level, Sarah's experience shows us how untrue this is. Technology can help us connect on the most profound and deepest levels, even when we deal with the hardest times of our lives. Thank you, Sarah, for reminding me of that lesson.