I consume a fair number of blogs on a consistent basis (my regular reads include I Blame the Patriarchy, Sociological Images, Colorlines, and The Conscience of a Liberal). What I don’t do, however, is comment. In fact, I’ve never once commented* on a blog post.**
In this sense, I am a passive consumer of internet content, much like some of my students who sit and listen but never wade into the conversation. If I think about the internet like a classroom, it’s hard to defend my passive engagement with this medium. In the classroom, I use a variety of techniques to elicit dialogue, based on the philosophy that knowledge production is a collaborative enterprise. More voices, crafted together by an experienced facilitator, produce a more complex, diverse, and enriching understanding of the world and our place in it.
Is the same true of the internet? Perhaps – but there are certainly limits to this analogy. For one, as an internet consumer (rather than a student in a classroom), I am under no obligation to produce content. I have made no such bargain with society. To the contrary, I have made a consistent (that is, consistently failing) effort to unplug from the digital world.
Because of this, the tips on creating a personal learning network spoke to me – although probably not in the way intended by the author. When I read that I should use twitter as a tool to distinguish between the “signal” and the “noise,” all I could think was: maybe the internet is the noise (if not the entire net, then surely twitter, tumblr, and all that jazz). I realize now that I tend to consume digital media in one of two ways: I either binge – spending three (or four, or five) hours catching up on the blogs and my twitter feed, or I completely tune out. And I seem to be happier when I tune out. I read more, enjoy my cats more. I even knit ugly creatures with all my new found free time.
I guess all of this is just another way of saying that the DoOO faculty initiative comes at a point of indecision for me, or perhaps even ambivalence. On the one hand, I want to unplug, tune out, and knit little creatures with weird hair and hipster mustaches. On the other hand, I have a strong desire to create and manage a web presence that blends my academic and political selves. On the third hand (photos of that knitted creature soon to come), I sometimes think it might be possible to create a digital presence that I can use effectively to build my personal learning network and begin contributing to the conversation, instead of sitting on the sidelines.
* Wait… scratch that. I recently responded to a comment on my own blog. But I don’t think that really counts. Right? Surely not.
** Needless to say, it was a little intimidating to think about the Domain of One’s Own homework for this week – i.e., commenting on someone else’s blog.