Tom Scheinfeldt Made Me Write This Post!

Sort of…I’ve been on an “anti-social” network kick for a while as I have been busy working on the Connecticut Digital Archive project. Lots of tiny details related to infrastructure that I thought would be completely uninteresting to anyone. My mistake. The beauty of blog posts is that they are in the moment and ephemeral, so if it is boring a reader or follower can just skip it. If the next one is interesting you can read it. The point is to toss it out there and add to the conversation, in the long run everything necessary will get said and everything unnecessary will be forgotten.

What does this have to do with Tom Scheinfeldt? Nothing directly and that is the point. Tom is teaching a class here at UConn about Digital Culture–I’d recommend it to anyone at UConn who has an opportunity to take it. His syllabus includes a mention of Andrew Sullivan, a former editor at the Atlantic who is of course a blogger, but who wrote an article way back in 2008 called “Why I Blog.” (Full disclosure here. I didn’t find this out for myself, I was alerted to it by my colleague Jean Nelson–who found it from one of Tom’s tweets–thanks for the tip Jean!)

Sullivan describes the blog as “the spontaneous expression of instant thought … its borders are extremely porous and its truth inherently transitory.” And, unlike print journalism or book or journal authorship “It is accountable in immediate and unavoidable ways to readers and other bloggers, and linked via hypertext to continuously multiplying references and sources.”

It is difficult for those of us who were brought up in research disciplines to “blurt” our thoughts before we have defined, refined, and attributed them to evidence.  What I ultimately understood about blogging from reading this article came from some advice Sullivan attributes to Matt Drudge that “the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving it dies. If it stops paddling it sinks.”  Brevity and immediacy is the currency of the blogosphere. This doesn’t mean that posts should not be well-considered, just that they can contribute to the world without having been vetted and edited, because its value is in how it makes connections with others thinking the same thing.

The social network relies on immediacy, shout outs, and sharing, something hard for a dinosaur like me to embrace, but I will do my best. When I have something to say, I won’t worry about who wants to hear. In some ways the internet is the ultimate “build it and they will come” environment.

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