My students in the first-year seminar are spending one day tracking how they use a form of collaborative communications technology: something like Facebook, texting, telephony, or even...blogs. I told that that "fair is fair, so I'll track one of my days, too." The interesting aspect of this post is that I don't know what I'll find. How much time do I spend reading and writing blogs?
This is not me by any stretch. I'm reminded of the American version of The Office, where boss Michael Scott tries his best to be relevant. And he fails.
Yes, sometimes blogging does seem like a massive waste of time, doesn't it? Yet the technology also offers students an easy-to-master way to create multimedia projects. It's a shift I'd argue that faculty must make in higher education, in order to remain relevant (or merely employed) in a time when state employees, including faculty, will increasingly be called to task to justify their work. I doubt that those of us working for private institutions will fare better, if we get a reputation for not using the literacy tools that are common beyond the gates of our cloistered campuses.
So how does someone who blogs spend the day? Here's my timeline for a day when I have some free time.
- 8 am: checked the following virtual-world blogs: New World Notes, Dwell on It, and (non-guilty lowbrow pleasure) The Alphaville Herald. No comments made.
- 815 am: Checked my blog list here at Blogspot's dashboard. Read Dio's new post at The Ephemeral Frontier. I noted that she uses the term "meatspace" to describe the real-life profession of a boat-builder in virtual worlds. More echoes of Gibson. Left two short comments for her. Read a much-deserved pan for the awful "Spider Man" musical at the NY Times. Left a sneer of my own about how stupid popular entertainment has gotten. It seems that many stories at the Times are merging with their blogs. Will there even be a difference in a few years? Blog-review done by 8:30 and I began this post. Time for my daily writing for me (not on a blog) and then, off to work!
- 11:00 am: While riding the bus, I finish reading an article in Cees Nooteboom's wonderful anthology about travel, Nomad's Hotel. How on earth could Nooteboom do that in a blog? I decide he could not. He is such a talented and subtle writer. I hope he wins a Nobel Prize before he leaves this world.
- 1:30 pm: After checking e-mail (and answering some blog-related questions from class!) I return to student blogs after a couple of days' absence. The rewrites of the first semi-formal project look promising, and I find myself reading all the other posts, since the students expect an estimate of participation grades.
- 2:00 pm: I avoid the temptation of posting a comment to New World Notes, since I don't think I have the facts straight on a copyright issue from the early 1980s and don't want to look misinformed. Back to student blogs!
- 5:30 pm: Getting ready for a night class, I could not resist leaving another remark at New World Notes.
I'm mindful now of Hannah Arendt's quotation, “For excellence, the presence of others is always required.” My work as a blogger or teacher is not necessarily excellent, but working with and in response to others has sharpened my skills and blunted any delusions--deserved or not--of excellence.
These technologies should put the lie to anyone who claims that writers work in garrets these days.