I’m back on the blog.
I’ve been away for a long time, for a number of reasons. A major one is that the sort of content I might post to a blog appears elsewhere, so I had to figure out the blog’s niche. I share and discuss items of interest via the comments on Google Reader or on my Facebook wall. I share the rare macro-update via my SJC alumni blog (posts about things like, “finished my master’s,” “starting my dissertation,” etc.) and micro-updates via Facebook (like, “I am at a Gogol Bordello show, yinz!”). I only feel the desire to micro-update occasionally, so I never got into Twitter—maintaining an ongoing feed of myself is too much for me. I maintain a small online academic presence via Academia.edu and to some degree, also through Facebook, since it’s where I connect with some other academics including the Humanistic Psychology crowd (American Psychological Association Division 32). I use 43things.com to maintain a database of life goals that fall somewhere between a short-term to-do list and major lifetime achievements, and this is probably where I post the most “personal” information. So this leaves the question, what sort of content will the blog take over or what new sort of content will it generate?
There’s also the question of who my audience will be. All of the spaces mentioned above have different audiences. I overlap content sometimes, especially Google Reader and Facebook, for simultaneous audiences. A small SJC crowd engages in GR discussions, and a broader crowd, mostly current colleagues in Duquesne’s Psychology and Philosophy grad programs but a lot of touch-and-go commenters from my friend-pool, engage on FB (but don’t tend to carry this discussion to the same lengths, given some limitations of the medium, including limited space for typing comments and perhaps some more subtle limitations, too). I feel that the micro-updates on FB are sufficient for sharing a general sense of what’s going on in my life with others, such as friends and relatives with whom I communicate only infrequently, but whom I don’t want to leave in the dark about my life and, presumably, they also maintain some active interest in knowing what’s up with me. The SJC alumni page and blog serves the same purpose, but tailored to a more particular audience—I want the SJC community to be aware, or at least potentially aware, of major happenings in my life that are relevant to my career as how I’m taking up my SJC experience. I want this both in order to maintain some feeling of home and continuity there and to maintain a presence to others from the SJC community so that we can help one another out (primarily, so I can advise SJC students interested in my grad program and foster a connection between the two programs/ these two components of my own education). Academia.edu is the same, a more tailored presence to a more particular audience, and less a dynamic online presence than a site to which I can refer people who ask about my work or where people who go googling for my work will land—in other words, it’s better than an empty business card. Like I said, 43Things is where I post the most personal information online, but few people actually read it, and those who do generally don’t know me in domains other than 43T. This is fine; I mean personal both in the sense of “boring to read about” and “done mostly for my own purposes.” The question here is who will be my audience, or at what level shall I engage my audience? Furthermore, do I want to reach new audiences?
So, given the sort of online content I’m inclined to produce or already produce and its audiences, intended and actual, what’s this blog’s purpose? My sense is that it will take after the personal blogs of academics (for instance, Graham Harman’s blog), which contains mainly thoughts and ideas relevant to work. Graham’s blog also contains personal updates, but not necessarily the sort one talks to one’s friends on the phone about, just things about traveling, what he’s doing now, etc. So, following this model, I’d both be creating a new kind of content by sharing more of my ideas and discussing my work more, and also creating some content overlap or eclipsing old domains (the ones containing macro-updates, and to some degree, my musing about items of interest on GR and FB). Another area I’m inclined to write about has to do more with practice. I’d like to write about experiences related to my work as a psychologist, about how I am positioned in the world and how the personal intersects the world of intellectual musing (for instance, I can foresee writing a post about how strange men often stare and even offer help when they witness me parallel parking, no matter how graceful and elegant my parking job). This is more in the tradition of graduate student blogs I’ve read that are as much about graduate student life as they are about emerging ideas. So, the purpose of this blog will be to share my ideas and reflections on life for a broad audience of acquaintances and strangers, including myself. For me, it will contain beginnings of ideas that I can reference and return to as well as providing a sense of the passage of time, a sort of history of my thoughts, and will have witnesses.
A few concerns I have that I’ll share lest they keep this project from getting started:
I’m concerned about becoming obligated to write or produce a response. I don’t want to have to say something every time there’s an event relevant to the thematic content of my blog, i.e., I don’t want to write a post about sexism for every well-publicized instance of outrageous gender bias. So, this blog has no official theme, it’s not a response to anything in particular (in contrast to a blog like Angry Asian Man). I also have some concerns that this blog will make other content redundant, including offline content like conference papers and articles. Perhaps by putting ideas here I’ll just drop them and won’t let them gestate into bigger ideas. I’m not sure why this would be so—in fact, the opposite seems more likely, that by putting down my ideas in nascent form they are less likely to vanish. But what would be the effect of opening up my stream of ideas to an audience? I worry my ideas will become self-conscious, smaller, more defensively offered. Finally, I have the common concern about composing to a mixed audience. The audiences of my other domains are pretty well-defined, and although some of what I share on those domains is still accessible to others, they don’t access it. I’m not sure who would read or find my blog (patients, students, clinical supervisors, employers?), or whether, given the content I’ve outlined, this would be a concern.