Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why can't I reflect in real time?

The last time I posted a blog was 18 November. That’s almost a quarter of a term ago. It doesn’t need saying, but I’ll say it: I’m clearly having trouble being active and reflective at the same time. My colleagues have figured it out, and I am inspired by their accomplishments. What ‘action’ has kept me from this blog?

  1. Museum text panel editing
  2. A presentation about what makes for an archive's successful educational outreach initiative
  3. A paper on how public access should be paramount among libraries’ mandates
  4. Interview transcribing
  5. Lately, shoveling. No matter how many times family cautioned me, I didn’t fully appreciate the “London is in a snow belt, y’know” comment until, well, last Thursday’s illustration.

We have all faced the challenges that assignments, deadlines, and inclement weather have mounted over the past few weeks. Once again, I commend my fellow public history students (please see the “blogroll”, at right) for their success in managing to meet such challenges, and to blog about their experience in real time. Our History 500 syllabus suggests that we're to "engage in 'reflective practice' throughout the term, responding to readings, discussions, and experiences as they occur."


The opportunity to post a blog on something that occurred in (even relatively) real time in invaluable. I've been fortunate to have had this experience a few times this term. The resulting blog post can, I think, really convey my excitement, wonder, or confusion about the subject at hand. In contrast, my scribbled, coffee-stained notes about an idea that I found engaging three weeks ago are certainly not inspiring sources for new blog posts.

Professor Turkel's History 513 syllabus reinforces the value of blogging in real time. It encourages us to use our computers during seminar meetings to look things up on online, to blog about the discussion, and even to "send backchannel text messages to other people in the room"! These are exciting, inspiring suggestions. If I could manage to act on them, I think some really dynamic writing could be the result. I just need to figure out how to operate in the 'real world' and the 'digital world' simultaneously. I do, however, strongly dislike that 'real'/'fake' world distinction. So, better yet, I would like to figure out how to conflate action and reflection - to make them, as I wrote in an earlier post, integrated layers of one big activity.

Sigh. It's an ongoing challenge. For now, I will have to settle for dusting off, and hoping to re-invigorate, some of those two- and three-week old reflections.

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