I Dunno. You?
Most of the time, I sit down to my blog to write about something I’ve thought a lot about and half composed in my mind. I know where I want the piece to go. But my
co-conspirator colleague, Rick Kreinbring, and I have been working on our presentation for NCTE 2018— about using digital writing to give kids the chance to develop as public thinkers– and it’s challenged my thinking. (Don’t you just hate when that happens?)
What if I asked myself to blog as a not-knower, of a destination, a process, or even which bits of details or information matter? What if I did what I ask students to do: grapple in public with the way what I read weaves with my lived experience, brings me into new positions or points of view? What if I wrote to discover what I think, or to push my thinking into new places?
Don’t get me wrong– it’s not as if I don’t learn or discover when I write from the stance of a knower. But that’s a little like performing in the big top with a big safety net. There’s something risky– and tantalizing– about thinking out loud.
The early days of blogging had more of that. The custom was to post a bunch of links and some thoughts about those links. An early form of curation, as it were (that has morphed into well-crafted newsletters that come to you via email rather than you seeking them out). Ideally conversations and communities would develop.
It’s different today. Tim Berners-Lee (creator if the web) dreamed the web would be a place where everyone would write, express themselves. In many ways, Berners-Lee’s dream has come true. Think of all the people you know who compose and/or publish on the web: YouTube, blogs, micro-blogging (Twitter!), Pinterest, Facebook, etc. (I recently attended a WordPress meetup where one speaker admitted to having 13 blogs.)
But who’s reading, or watching, or looking at all that stuff?
Beats me. I follow a bunch of blogs via RSS; I subscribe to four newsletters. There’s only so much time, after all. I don’t know if anybody follows me (except my friend Kevin Hodgson, who said he does, and whom I admire greatly for his thought-blog, among other things).
Does public thinking matter if no one reads/watches/sees/hears?
I tell my students, absolutely. Don’t we write first for ourselves? But if one writes as a knower, is one writing for oneself? Yes, yes, I know– we always write for an invisible reader. But go with me here.
What happens in a blog if a writer sits down as a not-knower?
Hey, let’s find out.