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ds106: Managing the Chaos

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I’ve come to understand over time that there are two main tributaries of bloggers: those who write to document, and those who write to write. These can also be known as writing to think & writing to be read – the former serves as a personal thought-sifter, and the latter as a public product. I had never really considered the difference before jumping onto the ds106 caboose while it began to speed away into the distance. Now that I think of it, though, it explains why I’m not carrying my weight in the class & maybe even what that means for a student’s digital identity (buzz words abound!).

To begin with, I have to admit that I have never once in my life been able to sustain a journal. I’ve bought notebooks, leather-bound tomes, Goosebumps-themed mini-books, etc. for that specific purpose – to chronicle my thoughts, keep a daily log – but not once has it stuck. For whatever reason, I struggle writing just for myself; I tend to slough my thoughts off as trite unless they’re thought through all the way, and I’m proud to show them to someone else. The idea of keeping something I write all to myself doesn’t really appeal to me (there are exceptions, though, of course, namely early drafts of poems stuck in the tar pit of ideas and not worthy of anything; brainstorming sessions without form or structure), & it’s always been that way. In this way, I’m not sure I’m the most ideal candidate for a blog, the favored form of temporary thought-process trackers worldwide.

Then again, here is my blog, going into its fourth year in existence in some form or another. So what does that mean?

Well, in the other corner, we have a massive, totemic blog like bavatuesdays, Jim Groom’s pet and warehouse of brilliant ideas, catastrophic theories, & utterly hypnotizing miscellany – all kept track of as an ongoing process, with the curtain drawn back at each step of the way. Jim calls it a “conversation,” & I tend to agree with him. There’s a certain demystification happening in his style, a pedagogy that I find completely engaging & of which I’m jealous more often than not. He’s got to be a kinesthetic thinker, someone who has to write his way through his thoughts to make sense of it all, and it makes his blog both cluttered & excitingly approachable at the same time. I’d like to think that it’s exactly because of these polar-opposite blogging styles that Jim & I are each others’ biggest fans. At least on my end, I see something in the way he operates that both intrigues me and confounds me, & it’s hard not to be smitten by something that does that to you.

It was this realization a few days ago that made me come to terms with my role in ds106, which at the time was shooting further & further out of my reach with its own radio station, its wildly scattered posts, and all the “goddamn art,” as Jim so aptly proclaimed. As a Type A personality who thrives on order, I shied away from it all. Like I said, I had the thought about why I might not be a great contender for this course a few days ago – probably a week and a half or so – & I’m just blogging about it now. I am not a write-to-think kind of person, & instead I let ideas simmer and soak up other ideas for a very long time until I feel confident enough to put it all out there. As a “blog your process” course, ds106 was not made for a blogger like that, & that is something I find endlessly fascinating.

I think it’s important to note, then, if nothing else, that there are different styles of blogging – different ways of thinking and chronicling the whole process of thinking – and to take that realization into account when considering employing digital spaces as productive havens for students. I love experimenting with online functions – usually to ill-fated ends – but just because of who I am, I don’t stick with any one experiment for a very long time. I like the idea more than I like the action, & oftentimes I’ll try things out only to discard them once they’re put out there. Sustaining my long-form, calculated thoughts on this blog has been the one constant, & I love that idea. It’s like Base in a particularly long game of Tag – I can come back here whenever & keep my thoughts organized & grammatically on point & completely in check.

Maybe it’s what keeps my axis stable, or my identity controlled. It might be for this same reason that I erased my Facebook a couple months ago – there’s a sense that you have an identity out there over which you have no control. Even with your privacy functions on high & things kept in check, it’s still an open forum where you’re spied on without much control over who’s watching & what they’re thinking. Ideas are condensed into statuses of minutia (the same reason I stopped using my Twitter) instead of expanded into completeness – it’s like a whole world of sentence fragments put out there by people trying to make the world’s next big catchphrase. Something about my personality just wants to have a total thought, a complete narrative or mental arc with a beginning, middle, & end. Maybe I’m destined to be a journalist & I just don’t know it. Maybe I’m just uptight. Who knows.

So here’s me keeping track of my ds106 process, in the only way I know how: Jim has been patiently pushing me to play around with ds106 Radio, & I really want to. I actually kind of slobber a bit at the thought of it – it’s brilliant. But I’m wary to try it until I can map out in my mind how it works, who’s on the other end, what obstacles might crop up, & more. I can’t just think & then do – I need to think & think & think & then do & then think some more & re-do. I’m not even a perfectionist, strangely enough; I just need to know that my identity really is a reflection of who I am, not just of what the digital medium confines it to be. So, Jim, I’m signing up to get on the radio this weekend – let’s experiment & have some fun & make this happen.

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