Jan 302015

Blogging has been scarce these past weeks. Initially the hiatus was about travel: a vacation followed by holidays with family followed by an unexpected week away. But the time away let me work on other projects and think about what this space is for, and that whole process isn’t done yet.

The news I have:

1. I’m done for now with the Faulkner hypertext project. I had no real appreciation for how radically different hypertext writing was. Neither did I realize how much I need, personally, to let go of an old project that feels done for me. Faulkner needs to be set aside. That said, the questions about linearity that trying to make the project readable brought up for me are very much alive…and very troubling. I hope there will be more to say about that here soon.

2. A series of work projects have taken on a life of their own. None of them are appropriate to discuss here. (An interesting insight: not everything is internet-ready.) This means that life and blog are competing a bit for the time being. This too shall pass, right?

3. More abstractly, this blog feels adolescent. I’ve spent a lot of time these past weeks wondering what this blog is for and what I want it to be. Because I am old the idea of blogging about blogging makes me shiver. Because I am not that old, the questions sting. What started as an experiment has become important, but how? And that “how” is public. /sigh.

4. I have planned for months to blog about the way I’ve been experimenting with wikis in my classroom. In the coming weeks, I may spend some time catching up on what I’ve been doing there. It’s a matter of finding the time to pull out my notes and making posts that I feel ok with.

Finally, I’m sure that anyone who’s read this far will already have read Mark Bernstein’s recent series of posts about Wikipedia and the ongoing GamerGate fiasco. I’ve found them inspiring enough that:

5. This semester I’ve decided to throw GamerGate at the students in a first-year research writing class I’m teaching. It’s the sort of topic that teachers dream of: it touches an intensely personal aspect of students’ lives and challenges them to think about what their casual pleasure mean. But to make sense of the conflicting materials (and their reactions) will require classroom skills they prefer to cordon off in a box labelled simply “school.” Bernstein’s posts set alongside Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency videos, Zoe Quinn’s blog  and supplemented with the resources Bernstein links to in posts like this one and the various articles in news sites and in magazines like The New Yorker, will present my students with a real problem. I can’t wait to talk about it with them and to see what they write. Depending, I may keep tabs on it here.

So that’s where things are and why posting is slow.

  2 Responses to “What’s up?”

  1. Thanks for the update! I, too, am struggling with which projects should be front or back burnered or just plain burned 😛 It still feels like the new year, even though January is nearly over and February looms as only a Fairbanks February can. I started a long letter to you several months ago and it has since languished. Too tough to communicate more than a decade’s worth of life in a few pages. I began to feel pointless. So did it. How to convey the ways I’ve changed and stayed the same and why? (The devastating and sudden loss of Roy Bird, for instance.) But I have not given up. I am as determined as you are to retain this link between us, no matter how fragile it seems, because we are kindred spirits in a huge and infinitely varied world. Such connections are not as rare as I once thought they were, but they are rare enough. I value you, your uniqueness and insights and stunningly genuine commitment to, well, ordinary human language. The you since grad school matters to me, not just the who you were then. So, yeah, get old. It’s actually really fun, existential terror and all. (I’ll be 55 in April!)

    • I’m with you on the “what should be burned” thing: glad I finally realized that Faulkner presented me with an interesting problem and that, however interesting Faulkner is, I wasn’t necessarily interested. I’m satisfied with the way I’ve sorted out the problem that drew me to him and don’t need to keep going over that ground endlessly.

      Email, messages, letters. It’s all good. And the best time is the present.

      And three cheers for getting older!

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