I have been toying with the idea of creating a blog for quite a while. In fact, I have started and stopped building this blog at least half a dozen times over the last 11 years. Eventually I realized that wanting to start a blog wasn’t sufficient reason for starting a blog. I believe, however, that now it’s time. I have things I would like to share and, more important, I am hoping others will share back.
The originally conceived the idea of building a blog when I was working on my dissertation back in May of 2006. I started working on the nuts and bolts of themes and plugins and such while I was attending a week long workshop on network science. During the evenings I was attempting to create my first WordPress blog. I hadn’t quite mastered WordPress and was receiving valuable guidance from the more computer savvy workshop participants.
When I was asked the purpose this blog I explained that I planned to use it to “write my dissertation”. The response: “You’re kidding, right?” I wasn’t actually kidding but I wasn’t far enough along in the dissertation writing process to understand why everyone was reacting that way. I reasoned that an easily navigable, visually oriented, content management system could help me organize my reading list, my bibliography, and links to other relevant resources. What everyone else perceived was the absurd juxtaposition of a public-facing blog and the insular process that would ultimately reflect my dissertation-writing experience.
I still created the blog but, at the time, it consisted only of a bibliography of my lit review, a number of websites relevant to my dissertation topic, and some posts in which I discussed topics such as network theory and brand communities. I lacked the intestinal fortitude to actually risk exposing my own thoughts and ideas to the light of day.
Over the last 11 years as a university professor and, more recently, administrator I have come to appreciate the power of learning in public. We can connect to people and to information more easily than any time in our history. This access has provided new opportunities for how we engage learners and design learning experiences. I have experienced, first-hand, the positive energy and surprisingly rich results that ensue when people learn together.
I’ve included bits and pieces of the original blog here, (including the URL ‘netorious.us’, which I bought back when ‘.us’ became a thing. URLs such as ‘curio.us’ and ‘notorio.us’ had already been snapped up, but I also bought ‘incurio.us’, for grins) to remind me where this all started. 11 years and counting, my career in academia has been extremely rewarding and I’m learning something new everyday.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that this isn’t a solitary journey. Nothing new grows in an echo chamber and while friends and colleagues keep you honest, never underestimate the importance of keeping an open mind and listening to the people you meet along the way.