March 03, 2007

Blogging to broaden your perspective


Karl Fisch responded to my post on his impressive presentation "Did You Know?" and it raised an issue I've been wanting to write about.

But first, go see the Doonesbury cartoon for Sunday, March 4th 2007. Are you back? OK.

Karl writes
As far as the "nationalistic" piece, that was not the intent - please follow the link and note the original context of this presentation. It has a U.S. flavor because it was created for my teachers and students at my school which does happen to be in the U.S., therefore it was designed to capture their attention. If I had known it was going to spread like this . . .
I'm not criticizing Karl; his comment gave me food for thought.

If you put something up on a blog, it can be read by anyone anywhere in the world, regardless of the writer's intended audience. As Uncle Duke says, "Only a couple million people have seen it. I justed posted it!" You are putting your communication, deliberately, on a global stage for all the world (with a browser and Internet connection) to see. Maybe in your little head, your audience is your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, whatever, but that may not correspond to reality. As Karl wrote, "If I had known it was going to spread like this..."

A friend of mine goes running. Recently, he took part in his first big marathon race. Why? To raise his game. A personal challenge. To run with a different calibre of runners than he normally runs with, and by doing so raise his game.

Putting your thoughts on the Internet, as opposed to a Yahoo!Group or some other mailing list, or into a printed faculty or neigbourhood newsletter, I would suggest, has the same kind of purpose: to challenge yourself, to run with a different calibre of people than you normally run with, and by doing raising your game. As English-teacher -in-Hawaii Bruce Schauble writes about blogging,
It's been a terrific learning experience, not only because of the writing itself but because of the feedback that I have gotten from the emerging community of readers that have stumbled upon or found their way to the blog.


I blog in order to broaden my community, to open myself to communication with people I would not and could not otherwise communicate with, and to get perspectives which are different from mine, to raise my game.

This brings a benefit and a responsibility: you get the benefit of (potentially) all kinds of varied input, but also you need to raise your game: you are now writing (potentially) for people who do not share your values, your background, your experience, your view of things.

There are few truly global citizens (I mean people with a global view, not just people who travel a lot), and many of us are still trapped in our parochial thinking, me included. But when we put something up on a blog, we are writing for a global audience, whether we are aware of that or not, whether that's our intent or not.

It's kinda like being married: you think you know why you married your spouse, but life (or your subconscious) has its own reasons: to challenge you to be the best person that you can be, to push you beyond what you think your limits are.

A student of mine wrote to me that he came to university because he wanted to become more intelligent. What if that wasn't just a personal wish? What if the planet right now was really hoping all of us would become as intelligent as we can, real fast? OK, that's kinda freaky, forget I said that.

"How many people have seen this?"
"Only a couple million. I just posted it!" (Doonesbury, March 4th, 2007).

We're not in Kansas anymore. None of us.

(The graphic above comes from the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Buckminster Fuller created the Dymaxion map to show the people of the world that we are not living in separate countries in separate continents, but on one world island in a one world ocean. Searching for a graphic for this post, I found lots of globes and pictures of the earth, but many of them were US or Euro-centric, with the US or Europe in the middle of the globe. (Guess which country is centre-stage in world maps in Japan?). I wanted a graphic that matched what I wrote: something suitable for a global stage.) Spaceship earth, Fuller called it.

3 comments:

Karl Fisch said...

I agree. Thanks for stating it so well.

I'm actually working on a post (in my head, we'll see if it ever makes it to the blog) titled something like "Things I Learned From Did You Know". I knew (of course) that anything I put out on the blog was open to everyone, but never imagined that it would go the direction it did. So certainly one of the things I learned was that if you're going to put a presentation up, at least include a slide that links back to the context (in this case, the original post). (Also, don't assume that just because nobody is reading your blog when you write something, something might happen to change that!) Now, that still doesn't prevent other folks from removing that slide, or from viewers not bothering to go to that link, but it at least attempts to address the issue.

As far as the U.S.-centric piece, I don't think the fact that it focuses on the U.S. is really the problem, since the global "shift" is part of the point. But my use of "They have more honors kids than we have kids" and "Luxembourg just passed us
" may not have been the best choice. Well, it was the best choice for my faculty meeting, perhaps, but not for the blog version.

The good news is there's a whole lot of good stuff that I've learned that I can share with my staff and students. And - I hope - it has helped get some good conversations started around the world - despite having a few flaws . . .

Mimus Pauly said...

Well...

I'm not too keen on this "raising your game" aspect of blogging. I agree that it exists, and that it exerts quite a bit of influence on bloggers. But I ain't tryin' to be the next Atrios or anything. I blog because I like doing it, because it's therapeutic, and because once in a while, I get some eye-opening feedback. I'm not trying to change the world.

My hypothesis is, you are what you blog, be it for good, for bad, or for ugly. Everything else is commentary...

Marco Polo said...

By "raising your game" I don't mean getting more readers/subscribers, I mean something much more exciting than that - breaking out of the parochial cocoon and realizing that you are a planetary citizen, whether you like it or not! Whether you are aware of it or not. Blogging puts your stuff onto the global stage, and small-minded parochial thinking is going to be shown up for what it is. Hold onto your hats!