I’m generally about as unsystematic a guy as you’re ever going to find. Abstract-random and proud of it. Any sequential organization skills I bring to the table are the direct result of hard, intentional behavior-modifying labor rather than innate ability, or god forbid, preference. So I realize this question is out of character, but I really am wondering:

Does anybody use blogging for focused inquiry? Blogging as a way to systematically pursue a thesis from tentative beginning to supported conclusion? As a way to doggedly follow an open question from Point A to Point Wherever-It-Takes-You, accumulating and documenting evidence along the way, inviting dissent and questioning, modeling curiosity, uncertainty, and transparency? Where the blog is designed from the get-go to be the product rather than just the process, an artifact explicitly demonstrating what has been and is being learned?

We can all attest, most of us with passionate conviction, to the powerful, transformative learning that goes hand in hand with blogging. (And by "blogging" I mean, of course, a definition that includes all the collaborative, dialogic, networked aspects that go with it.) Most of us use our blogs as a sort of sounding board, a space for reflection, for conversation, for posing questions both rhetorical and immediately practical. We write opportunistically and improvisationally, pursuing, multiple thought-threads as we have time, and as new ideas bob into view to bump against the old. It’s not coincidence that "On My Mind" is the category on Will’s blog that dwarfs all others. Given the right prompt, we could all spin a compelling narrative about what we’ve learned through blogging and how it has toppled and reconstructed our ideas about learning. Or show it as an annual learning report per Dan Meyer‘s challenge. Or come up with another creation, another product to demonstrate learning.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around exactly what I’m really asking here, but intention and focus are at the heart of it. Blogging as a mode is fluid, organic, responsive, accidental, provisional, mysterious, wide-ranging; so is learning. A million other adjectives could apply just as well. A devil’s advocate would argue that the learning that occurs through blogging is lucky chance, or coincidence, or circumstance—because the process is anything but systematic. I’m struggling to put my finger on the common thread of learning-by-blogging, the system beneath the unsystematic surface. Evidence beyond the anecdotal for the difference blogging makes.