Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Beyond Here Be Dragons!"

"Why would anyone want to blog!" First, this is a question screamed at me today by a colleague. Second, notice I do not punctuate it with a question mark. The scream made it rhetorical.

I had been talking about a student who had recently removed a blog that included posts, though heartfelt and honest in tone and style, were perhaps so personal so as to compromise the author and his subjects in a less than perfect, not so understanding world. Although the young blogger had removed his blog, other bloggers were pulling up its contents in Google Reader and reposting them. Our world may not be understanding, but unlike the virtual world it could be more ephemeral. What we post can virsist on without us.

It is to this nonrecantable, uncontrollable existence of our posts to the blogosphere my colleague objects. She gave me pause. As she objected, I reflected.

Several thoughts came to mind. Of how she was right--it does seem unfair that once we publish, to others we cannot see, cannot know, who can abuse, misuse, and reuse our contributions in ways we cannot immediately imagine. I also thought of how I find the process of blogging--and publishing--to be almost as enriching and rewarding as reading the blogs of countless other educators who are doing the same. I have the sense that publishing my "reveries" is dues for reading the "buzz" of other bees. That together we create the prairie.
Indeed, I know that my metaphor is romantic. After all , the blogosphere is more a woods than a prairie. It offers what the 20th Century French philosopher Gaston Bachelard calls the "immediate immensity." To sit in front of a computer screen, less than a meter between you and the rest of the world, in the comfort of your own home, and not realize that it translates to billions of other screens (now and into the future) is to forget the forest for the tree. The forest may be lovely, but it is dark and deep. And there may even be wolves.
"Beyond here be dragons!" This makes me think of yet another topographical metaphor for cyber-space. The sea. But like the explorers before us we students and teachers set sail to explore while others cozy up to a cup of tea and a good book back at home. Nothing wrong with the latter, and someday I hope to make it home safely, so save a cup for me. In the meantime, I'm off.

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