Saturday, October 9, 2010

New blogger

That's me at a rally outside the Health Minister's office
Hello, this is Joy Johnston.  

I would like to introduce myself, as I have put my hand up to work with this blog. My blogs are perhaps the best way of telling you how I use this valuable medium.

Through the villagemidwife blog I share my own midwifery stories and make critical comment on current issues.

midwivesVictoria is a site I manage for the Midwives in Private Practice (MiPP) group, a collective of independent midwives in Victoria.

Private Midwifery Services is a more recent blog, in which I have addressed the very complex and often vexed issue of reform of maternity services, particularly as it has impacted on independent practice including homebirth.

My blogging experience goes back several years. On my blogger dashboard I have about a dozen sites, and there's a Word Prss quilt blog out there too! I use blogs as records that are maintained in a systematic fashion over time, and easily retrieved. A blog is like a magazine that, instead of having pages that you turn, has pages that continue on down the screen and into the past. The links on the side bar of the blog invite the reader to explore further. Documents and posters can be posted on the blog as images, and enlarged by a right click from the mouse.

Anyone who is older than about 40 will remember the pre-digital, pre-internet era. As a budding activist for maternity reform as recently as the early 1990s, I did cutting and pasting of articles that were put together into a photocopied magazine, or a single page. We had a computer and a printer, but there was no ability to do special page layouts. Instead of mail merge for addresses, we addressed envelopes by hand. The marvel of fax could be used then to get messages out quickly to hospital maternity units.

Then came email, firstly through the Uni, and then at home. What emancipation!

The world of midwifery, and maternity activism, has groups that connect with each other through direct email, Yahoo! groups, and in recent years other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In those groups it's very easy to become inwardly focused, with pretty well everyone speaking the same language, or at least those who engage in discussion are. And there is usually, in my experience, a silent majority.

A blog enables information to be shared with anyone who is interested. The networks formed by blogs, with links to other similar blogs and websites, can lead readers down interesting and complex pathways. This crossing of professional and cultural boundaries is useful as an adjunct to the more restricted group discussions.

Blogs enable tracking of numbers of visitors to the site: a sort of statistical self-worth meter. Comments are useful, sometimes agreeing, and sometimes putting an opposing view. The hardest thing for a blogger to face is the doldrums, when noone out there seems interested in all the fascinating material that one has collected and shared. Photos can be used too, and will often draw attention to an otherwise bland page of text.

Australian Private Midwives Association welcomes our readers. Comments that address issues of interest to our group are welcome.