Why a blog? (after a year of blogging almost daily)

Since late August 2010 I have posted a blog entry on pjt111.wordpress.com or (from January onwards) on this blog almost every day (over 300 in all).  How do the reasons for blogging that I formulated in November look at this point?

1. To make sure I write every morning (even if the post is drawn from past work) before the busy-ness of teaching and administration takes over my day.

I was able to keep up daily posting by drawing from past work, as much as by new writing.  In February 2011, I was introduced to the discipline of daily writing (i.e., writing 15-30 minutes 5-7 days/week; new words, not editing existing material; starting at the start of a project even if the words written do not make their way into any final product of the project).  I wrote these entries in a notebook (in a room away from my computer and messy work desk) and eventually revised some of them into blog posts.  Indeed, the period in June and July when I didn’t keep up with daily posts was when I was most actively doing daily writing, often in response to “daily reading.”  Daily reading was a discipline of reading 15-30 minutes each morning from a text that was not directly related to my central projects.  All this writing, posting, and reading is stimulating, but it a) is hard to protect from urgent demands of teaching and administration; and b) takes away time from research and writing on my central projects.

2. To see if these daily bits of writing and thinking (and recalling past writing and thinking) combine in ways that lead to new insights.

First: The blog posting and daily writing have reminded me of: a) my proclivity to dig down to the abstract, underlying conceptual claims; and b) my interest in learning and thinking about a wide range of issues.

Second: The daily writing and blog posting has been a medium in which I have explored what is going on in my teaching using problem- or project-based learning and in the interdisciplinary workshops I have been running for several years.  Not all of this thinking is evident in this blog yet (for I am behind in transcribing it from my notebooks).

3. To expose my work more widely, including unpublished work, in the hope that kindred thinkers might come across it and make contact.

The ClustrMaps on the blogs show visitors from far and wide, but, with very few comments posted, it is hard to know who is reading the posts let alone say that I have made contact with kindred souls.  The one frequent commenter is someone who challenges my posts on genes, heritability, race, and IQ scores.  I did not agree with his comments, but knew I needed to spend time to spell out clearly where our views diverged.  I have not found time to do this, which suggests that I would have a hard time maintaining relationships if more people did make contact.

4. To complement, not substitute for, the personal connections through workshops [e.g., NewSSC] or regular conversations [e.g., ISHS].

Q: What combination of kinds of internet-facilitated connectedness is generative, sustaining, sustainable?

The daily writing under #2 led to me to initiate a pilot version of what I now call “Collaborative Explorations (CEs) of Science in a Changing World.”  Some of what was learned about process and product about CEs is reflected in the Prospectus, Expectations of participants, Sequence of a CE (see http://wp.me/p1gwfa-or).

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In sum, I expect that I will not post daily in the year ahead, but that I will use daily writing, daily reading, and collaborative explorations to go beyond what I would be doing if I focused on my central research and writing projects.

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

One Response to Why a blog? (after a year of blogging almost daily)

  1. Another reason I blog is:
    #5. These daily bits of writing and thinking (and recalling past writing and thinking) eventually add up to something that can be assembled and shared.
    This is evident in http://bit.ly/annblum becoming http://bit.ly/ABIOL2016 and also in my dialogic note-making on reading in the winter months after Ann’s death becoming a 40-page document that I could share with family and friends on the experience and value of being unsettled.

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