Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Public Service Announcement

A milestone has been reached:
It's the two year anniversary of this blog's beginnings.

Always willing to try something new, I began blogging two years ago, which seems like a blink of an eye (my mother says wait until I'm 80 when there's a whole lot more blinking of eye moments that transpire). I've been involved in multiple blogs since that time, both in the reading of and creating of. I have two for my teaching, a family blog, have run a blog for the quilting ladies in Virginia, participate now in a church women's blog, and read many many others.

I keep up with my family's lives, see what's important to them, get a lot of commentary and news from blogs, and enjoy--when I'm completely beat and have NO energy--reading random blogs from the web. It teaches me that we're more alike than not, more strident than I'd thought, and that I've learned to sit in my computer chair longer than I ever have before.

Some have typified this flooding of the internet as just so much noise. Indeed sometimes you just have to turn it all off and dance to really fast and loud music, although even my latest fun song I found via a blog (okay, it's Crush by David Archuleta--great harmonies). Yes, the noise from the blogosphere is huge--there's no easy statistic to point to, but in my introduction to web research in the library last week, I talked about the "old" days of the web, when Alta Vista was the search engine of choice and rarely did the .com sites or blogspot sites dominate a search. Is there some statistic showing how much more our lives depend on the web? When it went out one Sunday morning (couldn't log on) I was forced to resort to the lesson manual to prepare the Sunday School lesson, rather than grabbing it online, copying and pasting it into a document, then adding my own commentary and reflections. I resorted to sticky notes all over the pristine lesson manual, instead of lifting erudite tidbits from several Sunday School blogs I frequent for insight and information.

My bookmarks are a hierarchy of blogs along with the requisite "normal" websites. Who can live without Pioneer Woman's recipe collection? The almost-understandable theological musings from a UK blogger? An extremely irreverant and snarky (and occasionally profane) teachery blog that keeps me from going crazy?

There has been a lot of research about how the connections we make over the web are weaker links than those made in person. The New York Times article recently about NieNie Chronicles highlights the discussion about whether these online connections really foster closeness.
One of the beauties of blogging/blogs is that we can pick and choose what we place up there, or read about or interact with. One of the negatives is research showing that the more time spent online, the higher the rate of depression. Interesting trade-off. Can blogs really substitute for the nitty-gritty, fault-revealing, frustrating, loving, supporting real-life relationships that we build around us in our off-line life? Does anyone really expect them to?

For me, the blogging is my corner of my self-published world. Maybe I'm just too chicken to try the big time, after some fairly pointed critiques of my writing. The hurdle's too high to write "serious" fiction, the lengthy plotting and characterization deemed too taxing for my current energy level. Maybe I'm just a wimp, although my daily horoscope claims I have some gumption, at least occasionally. Certainly, as my father says, the bar is set really low for writers: all it requires is a pencil and paper. And for bloggers? A computer and a fast connection. The writing bar lowered even more, I suppose, when a person with half a mind, some cleverness and insight, a good amount of free time, and a liberal amount of snarkiness can post.

Of course, I'd place none of the blogs I read in that category. Just the ones I write.

Happy Birthday to OccasionalPiece.


Educational Life Map

I was trying to make a sample Life Map for my 101 class. I used Photoshop and wrote titles of land masses that correspond to taking 26 years to get the education, naming the high peaks "BA Peak and MFA Peak. Clever clever but not clever enough to get my ink jet printer to render it effectively enough to place on my prepared paper.

Back to the drawing board. But one thing this does is give me a good idea of how it will "look" to the students who have to do this assignment. My samples have been significantly downgraded so they don't spend too much time on the visuals, and less on the writing.

On a completely unrelated (weather) note: It's 9:40 a.m. and the air conditioner just clicked on. We did have several days of no A/C, windows open. We almost believed all those East-Coasters who proclaimed that summer's almost over. Then the heat came back. It's supposed to be 97-101 today. Back to sandals.

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