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.


white tightrope against cerulean background


Photo Credit: Dean Hochman Flickr via Compfight cc

5 responses to “I Dunno. You?”

  1. Connie Knapp says:

    Just for the record, I’ve been following you for a while ;). Love the idea of “not knowing”–very Buddhist. I, too, blog but I write to know what I think, not necessarily because I think someone is reading (which is a good thing because very few read–as an extreme extrovert I don’t always know what I think until I either say it aloud or I write about it.

    And, just for the record, I enjoy reading what you write. You always challenge me, in a good way. Thanks.

  2. Kevin says:

    Follow. Read. Think. Reflect.
    Your query about public think in a blog space is intriguing.
    Will think on it.

    • Karen says:

      Huh. I never thought about it like that. Public think with predetermined outcome vs. purposeful meandering– or is all writing more of a meander than a forced march to a specific destination? And what of the blog zone? Thanks for peeking in and responding during your digital sabbatical.

  3. Your thinking here reminds me of a conversation I once had with Bud Hunt at a conference. It went along this lines of “what if no one is listening?” Thanks for reeling in me and getting me thinking.

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