Dangerously Irrelevant was six months old last week. It has been a non-stop learning journey.

Like Pete, I too have been pleased with the warm welcome extended to me by more established bloggers. As I have come to understand this communication medium better (by participating, not just reading!), my understanding that there are a bazillion blogs out there with interesting things to say has increased significantly. This is dangerous to an incessant learner such as myself. It’s very, very tempting to try and spend hours each day reading, dialoguing, and discovering.

We all make important decisions about which blogs to read. We pick and keep what resonates with us. Sometimes we get overwhelmed and have to blow out our RSS aggregators and start over. Here’s how I choose what I read:

  1. I rarely read blogs that are focused on classroom instruction. Not because they don’t have interesting things to say, but because there simply are too many of them and because my focus is leadership. I started blogging at Dangerously Irrelevant because I wanted to try out blogging and because I felt there was a leadership orientation that often was missing from what I read in the education blogosphere. I have come to the pleasant realization that there are more leadership types out there than I originally believed, and I tend to read them and others that are dealing with school-, district-, state-, or federal-level leadership and policy issues.
  2. I stick with blogs that regularly cause me to think. We blog for different reasons. I’m attracted to those bloggers that are regularly wrestling with ideas and issues. I don’t care if they’re re-hashing old stuff; for them that stuff may be new and they may cause me to rethink something. I’m interested in the thoughtful, reflective interplay of personality with problem. If someone causes my brain to say "Huh!" or "Wow, that was good." or "I’m not sure I quite get that. Let me think on that a while." on a regular basis, he or she has a dedicated spot in my aggregator.
  3. I gravitate toward bloggers who create resources that are helpful and add value. Many of us blog. Few of us create resources that can be used by others. I am grateful for those who do.
  4. I appreciate cleverness and passion. If you are witty, write distinctively or passionately, make me laugh, or are good for a memorable quote now and then, I’m yours.
  5. I like bloggers who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Some of educators’ most-cherished beliefs and practices are up for reconsideration in this new technological era. I like bloggers who are willing and interested in at least rethinking, if not always revising, what we’re doing.
  6. I follow interesting comments. One of the best ways I find new voices is by clicking on the names of folks who have left an interesting comment on my own blog or someone else’s. I’ll peruse their blogs and, if I like what I see, I’ll add them to the area in my aggregator that’s reserved for folks I’m trying out. After a month or two, I’ll either move them to a more permanent area or replace them with someone new.
  7. I track links from those I trust. If a blogger I respect links to someone, I’ll usually follow the trail. If that person is reading you, chances are I might like you too.
  8. I don’t filter by ideology, but I rarely read bloggers who are grumpy. I try to expose myself to different perspectives and viewpoints, but I don’t have time to waste on people who have a tendency to complain or bring down others. I believe in the old saw that one should ‘criticize ideas, not people.’ If bloggers frequently use personally-insulting language, denigrate others, and/or grouse about stuff, I’m not going to read them much. I try really hard to stick with those folks when I think their content is good, but in the end their delivery gets in the way of their message.

There was a thread floating around a while ago about how we think about our writing. At the risk of maybe starting another such chain, it would be fun to hear from others about how they choose who and what they read.

I am deeply honored that so many of you feel I am a voice worth hearing. Thank you for dedicating some of your precious time and aggregator space to Dangerously Irrelevant.