Technology Nuggets--Blogging by Cell and Twenty-Somethings Don't Know Everything
Offline Manuals Really Don't Cut it For Me Anymore

When Learning Gets Personal: For Bob Cook

Bob_cook_2I 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):

Hi Michele,

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.

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 mainframe computer programmer 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, 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 Massachusetts, Washington State Hawaii. 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.


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What a wonderful post! I wish I had done something like this before my father died in 1989. I feel our family missed out on so many stories which would have enriched our lives. I especially liked your comment that technology can help us all connect on a personal level.

What a wonderful story and great example of how blogging can work on a personal and family level.

One of my plans for the future is to start a blog for my nursing group who started our training in 1980. We continue to be really close as a group but a lot has changed over the last 25 years and so. So I think a blog or wiki will be a great way of capturing the stories of the 'good old days'!

I have only just lost my mother and had attended her funeral.Feeling very despondent and lonely I wrote a post in tribute to her at My friend DSWaters shared this post with me on google reader the very next day, so thank for this post and I can personally relate this to my own life. I also teach a young girl, whose father's car hit a straying bull on the road. She and her two sisters were passengers in that car and although they were not physically hurt, their father, unfortunately was killed approximateyl 2 years ago. She has started a classroom blog and is in the process of adding a page dedicated to her father. Initially, I worried about safety issues for her, but reading your post, has given me confidence that we have made the right decision to proceed.

Hi Anne--I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. Your tribute to her and your daughter's poem were incredibly moving and such a wonderful demonstration of your love for her. I do think that being able to blog about such deep hurts can be very healing. When we do this, we find that we aren't alone in the world and can take such strength from other people who read and comment on what we've written. I also think that the process of writing can be incredibly healing.

I'm glad that you're allowing your student to blog about her father. We all need to have someone support us in our tributes to our loved ones and for a child, that's even more important. My own mother died when I was very small and we were never allowed to discuss her or her death. That made it very difficult for me growing up because I was never able to really acknowledge and deal with what had happened. This was even more painful because I was the one who found her after she died and I was tormented for many years by dreams that I wasn't able to discuss. So I think that it's really important that children be given avenues to discuss and make sense of these things in order to really be able to deal with them.

Thanks so much for writing, Anne, and my prayers go out to you and your family.

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