Tori Jensen wrote me with a question, and I asked her if I could respond here for other's benefit as well.

Tori asked: I would like to try a similar project with my high school students and staff. "Why do you read what you read?" I would be connected to a grant I won to encourage boys to read. Would you be opposed? I certainly would give you credit and link to your site if you Thank you, Tori Jensen, media specialist>>

My response:
I usually suggest that people ask "wdydwyd?" b/c it's broad enough to encompass any specific "doing" such as reading. For example, Google did it with some of their execs, and they initially wanted to ask "Why do you work at Google?" But, they asked "wdydwyd?" instead, and the context of asking employees provided the specific angle of "working at Google." Similarly, another group wanted to ask "Why do you live in San Francisco?" But, the context of asking locals the broader question worked perfectly.

One benefit is that people can plug into a larger project, which is a nice incentive b/c people like to be heard and seen. Also, the diversity of responses has collective value when you take different things people do, different types of people, etc.

That said, I'd be willing to do a little experiment with you if you're willing. What do you think about asking your students to answer, "why do you read what you read?" but then you'd present under the frame of "why do you do what you do?" I'm guessing that the answers would fit well in both, but we'd have to see from the results. Then, I could include them on the site if you uploaded them. It think it could be pretty cool. One value that this site has is that by answering the question personally, people inspire thousands of others to reflect on the answers. There is value in the process of answering the question for yourself, but if a tree falls in a forrest and no one hears it... The broader ripple effect of sharing your students' answers on this site is one impact which you could claim in the results of your grant.

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I am game, but I am unsure of what exactly you mean by, "present under the frame of why do you do what you do?" I have started to build a private ning for why do you read what you read, just to see if I know how! It isn't so very hard, is it!? If I get students to contribute to our library ning, are you asking that we link to your ning, or that we have students contribute directly to your ning? This is all very new to my school district and to me. I know about web 2.0, but have acually done little hands on stuff with it. HELP!
Hi Lori, you could certainly start your own Ning. It's not too hard, but did end up taking me a lot of time when I first set this one up.

The advantage would be that it is more specific to your question. But, there might be advantage to doing it as a group on wdydwyd. For one, I pay to have the ads removed, so no one gets hit up with ads. Also, I've found that there is value in momentum and critical mass, which can take awhile to build. Also, if you do your project only once, or only periodically or intermittently, it doesn't have constant activity, which can make it a ghost town later on. Of course, you can work to solve this, but that can take time too. Lastly, we already have lots of visitors (10K/week), to it will reach more people. Often when people create a blog, they get a 100 visitors a week or less.

There are advantages both ways, just depends on what your goals are.

It terms of the framing that I mentioned, that would naturally happen if you uploaded and created a gallery on wdydwyd. Then, if you printed the images for an exhibit, you'd just have the title "wdydwyd?" When people answer why they read what they read, they are essentially answering why they do what they do, but just specifically related to reading. So, their answers would fit fine under the broader question, yet have the content focus you desire and also connect with lots of other people (beyond your project) and why they do what they do. I'm open to ideas for how it could work... I haven't quite tried this way of doing it before, but I think it could work well.
Oh, okay. I think I get it. I am on Spring Break right now, but will try to take time to look at some of the other teacher's pages here and see how mine would fit. It sure would be a lot easier! Thanks. I'll be in touch.
I guess, for now, I can not make our school ning public. THis is a decision beyond my control. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be able to have our students contribute in the future. Thanks so much for your help and ideas.


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