Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Blog, Therefore I Am

Instead of attending the ScienceOnline'09 conference, I was working on sorting out where my life's next stage would be set. But that didn't keep me from following some of the discussions about web publishing. One really interesting conversation worth your attention is the argument over the dichotomy between writers' lives online and in the real world. Dr. Free-Ride makes an insightful statement about the topic.
We may think of ourselves as being a particular kind of person on the inside, but from the point of view of the world we share, it's hard for me to believe that we aren't largely constituted by the stuff be bring out of ourselves. And I don't think that there's a principled difference between the stuff we bring out of ourselves in a three-dimensional conversation transmitted by sound waves and the stuff we bring out of ourselves in a blog post. Both are instances of communication that give others at least circumstantial evidence about what kind of person we are.
This supports my own approach to blogging. I blog because the internet affords a potentially interested audience for expressions that it is logistically difficult to find interest in off-line. And the people I meet on- or off-line will hear the same story, whether the word are printed or spoken. In the end both forms of communication end up shaping our futures, whether by design or accidental. Dr. Free-Ride continues,
Our past is out there on the internets. But testimony about our past would be available even in the absence of the internet (unless, once the recommendations are signed and sent, you've arranged for the speedy demise of all those who mentored you -- something against which I recommend in no uncertain terms). Opting out of leaving an online footprint is not going to give you full authority to tell the story of who it is you are and how it is you came to be that way. Your "authorial intent" in living your life matters, but the lives your life touches give their own testimony, and sometimes the story takes a turn you neither expected nor intended.

Right on! Would I be involved at Virtual Mentor or at WebMD or as an ethics teacher if I hadn't tried out this blogging thing a few years ago?

No Way!

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