If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Meta-blogging or Where Do I Go From Here?

METABLOG WEEK 2010 Shmutzie has declared this metablog week and I have been trying to participate for days but I've been having trouble wrapping my head around a real blog post.  I seem to be lost in summer funkland. As you can see the week has past and I'm only just now beginning to write.

Shmutzie's first post covered her original reluctance to meta-blog but I have no such compunction. Academics like to meta- just about anything.  We meta-analyze, we meta-cognate, why not meta-blog?

Meta-blogging is no more complex than blogging about blogging.  It is fun and I invite you all to give it a try.  For myself, I've been thinking a lot about what I have been doing here on this blog; about changes that have occurred gradually and naturally and about changes that I want to make in the future.

I've said before (without quite realizing I was meta-blogging at the time), I started this blog for two purposes: to join a conversation among academic bloggers and to work on my nonacademic writing voice. Both purposes have been realized and many others have been born.  Lately the academic portion sections of this blog seem few and far between.  One reason for the decreased emphasis on academia is because I've become involved in so many other great blogging communities, particularly blogs focused on creative writing and feminist mothering.

Up until now I haven't explicitly discussed my research or declared my field.  I've done that to help keep the blog pseudononymous but it is a strong factor that has pushed me away from academic blogging.  You see I'm not particularly interested in the administrative aspects of academia--there are only so many posts I can write about the mind-numbing effects of faculty meetings--and while I love writing about my students I worry about their identities and who really owns their stories. What really interests me is the subject matter of what I teach, what happens in the classroom when I cover this material, and what I learn from conducting research on these topics.

I'd like to write about that more explicitly here.   My work is as important to me as my family and not writing about it here seems fake.   As happens with all pseudononymous blogs over time, I have slowly revealed enough particulars that it is fairly easy to track my real-life identity. Also having achieved tenure I find I'm less concerned about colleagues finding my blog.  I rarely discuss specifics of my university and I just don't find office politics interesting enough to write about. What I don't want is to have my professional name linked to the blog.  I'm not sure why I feel strongly about this.  I don't want someone who wants to know about my research to find this blog in a Google search.  Perhaps I will feel different about that once I start blogging more openly about my work, but I doubt it.

My experiment with the Unravelling course and my ongoing pursuit of becoming competent with a camera has also affected the tone and feel of the blog.  I now think about the visual aspects of the blog almost as much as the written aspects, which is quite a step forward for me.  This seems natural, correct and organic.  Unravelling has also made me much more comfortable with taking and sharing photos of myself.

I've started a 365 Project and I'm sharing it on a private Flicker account with a small group of Unravellers.  Some of the 365 Project overlaps with this blog but not all of it, particularly not photos of me and my family.  I've started putting them into a separate blog and I'm thinking of linking to that blog from here.  I'm rather undecided about that.  How is it I'm more open to having my face linked to this blog than my name?  Other people share my name but no one shares my face.  But in academia you are known by your name and it follows you for your entire career even when you don't want it to. [My name from my first marriage is on two thirds of my publications and I will never be able to truly give it up.]

So be on the lookout for changes in content around these parts and perhaps a link to images from my daily life.  We'll just have to play it by ear and see what happens.


Cynthia Pittmann said...

I understand what you mean about blogging about blogging. Don't we meta-blog a lot here in cyberspace but also in ordinary life-space. I think I drive my family batty with my blog talk. I always feel I have to explain why I blog, why is it worth my time, what makes it real writing. I love your sentence about blogging to find your non-academic voice. I think that's what I'm doing to. My own published writing does veer into the personal but I have to "watch that"...some poetry I've had published is somewhat personal but I'm fine with that. I also got more interested in photography since I've started blogging. I mean my interest was reawakened. I've taken some photography classes but not with a digital camera. I don't know the first thing about how to select a good camera and lens. Still, it's there in my mind. What kind of camera would suit my needs the best? I need something that I can upload photos whenever but I'd like it to be better quality. I miss the rich, sharp or fuzzy images that you get with 35mil film and an old cannon but I refuse to be sentimental. I guess blogger has given me a way to move forward, interact with others and learn by being a virtual part of their lives. I've also gone over the issue about being public about my name or not. I just decided that so many people know me, and if I want to publish more nonacademic writing, I have to get more comfortable with colleagues reading my blog. I'm still not entirely okay with that but the way things are going, I may have a new set of personnel in my near future.
I'm a probably laid off professor from Puerto Rico where we are having budget issues and student strikes. If things don't change soon, I will have plenty of time to think about why I blog!

Psycgirl said...

I struggle with posting about teaching and I am already struggling with posting about my new role as a mentor to graduate students - thank you for putting the reasons for that into words I couldn't find - and I agree that I am not sure who those stories belong to. I would never want a student whom I mentor to find my blog and read about themselves. I am already trying to grapple with how to blog about my new job without being overtly identifiable.

It's also nice to hear from someone I consider an unofficial blog mentor, that there has been life after a previous surname on publications. I am still feeling awful about that one every time I have to look at my CV...

Drax said...

You write, we'll read. Promise.

Julie said...

I love what Shmutzie says about "meta-writing." That is an awesome comparison. To tell you the truth, I didn't know about metablogging before I read this post. Again, you teach me!

I look forward to anything you present, because I have enjoyed watching your life and voice progression over the past couple of years. I love your photos, poems and pictures.

I also love reading about your family life, and I am happy for all of your achievements and good days. I just realized that probably makes me a weird kind of nosy peeping Jane...haha. I'll blame it on being a writer. People interest me.

But I do look forward to finding out where it will take you.

Annie said...

Hi Brigindo,
I welcome whatever you decide to share. As you know, I have difficulties and qualms, also, in what to share, and who to share it with. I waver between privacy and revelation; but I think it's wise to separate academic publishing from your personal prose, and choosing not to write specifics about your students or your university here. However, I would enjoy reading more about your research, in a general sense, at a level that is comfortable for you. I always enjoy your photographs!

Anonymous said...

Hi Brigindo,
I'm wondering if you know about Shutter Sisters: www.shuttersisters.com. I'm learning more about it, but it's a site where women explore their lives through photography, and post their photographs through blogs and flickr accounts. ~ Annie