In many ways I preferred blogging as an outsider, as a lowly PhD student with no established position other than that of the outsider: a young woman in a small country on the outskirts of a continent with odd interests. Blogging as a tenured associate professor running a (small) department is a different kettle of fish altogether, as I tried to analyse in my hard-to-write chapter in Uses of Blogs. I’ve mostly thought of the discomfort of blogging in the last year or so as being about time, authority, too many different audiences and having to try to be tactical and smart non-stop. Weez points out another problem I hadn’t thought of this clearly before:
Things became clear from this dream structure…the more connections you have – whether laterally or vertically, the less freedom of movement you have. Those at the periphery have much more latitude to take risks and move in odd directions. Innovation happens at the edges. This structure was animated. It was like a jelly fish. You could move with the thing or against the thing. Wherever there was movement there were tensions. Opposing tensions ended in a sum of no movement, but there was at least a tightening and loosening. It was kinetic there. But if the majority did absolutely nothing, that too was a statement and made the whole thing look like it was dead. (Weez, Oct 3)
Thank goodness for research and the chance to escape into ideas and thoughts and writing.
Freedom of action may be greater at the periphery; but change tends to occur only when it’s taken on board nearer the centre. The difficulties associated with bringing about change tend to fall into two main categories. When you’re at the centre, it’s convincing colleagues to take the risk of endangering whatever powers they may have to try to bring about change. At the periphery the problem is trying to persuade people that the pleasures they may derive from coming up with wonderful dreams about what would improve the world, can’t help bring about changes unless they are able to be applied in the real world.
Thank God I’m an optimist, or I’d find the world a bleak place.