Seeking Emotions

Seeking Emotions

Occasionally we encounter emotions at random. More often, we have no choice, because there’s something that needs to be done, or an event that impinges itself on us. But most often, we seek emotions out, find refuge in them, just as we walk into the living room or the den.
Stop for a second and reread that sentence, because it’s certainly controversial. I’m arguing that more often than not, we encounter fear or aggravation or delight because we seek it out, not because it’s thrust on us.
Why check your email every twenty minutes? It’s not because it needs checking. It’s because the checking puts us into a state we seek out. Why yell at the parking attendant with such gusto? Teaching him a lesson isn’t the point–no, in that moment, it’s what we want to do, it’s a room we choose to hang out in. It could be something as prosaic as getting involved in a flame war online every day, or checking your feeds at midnight or taking a shot or two before dinner. It’s not something you have to do, it’s something you choose to do, because going there takes your emotions to a place you’ve gotten used to, a place where you feel comfortable, even if it makes you unhappy.

An interesting thought from Seth Godin in a post titled, “The places you go.” Makes me think about my daily patterns of interaction. Do I do things that make me unhappy because they are safe? Do I need to walk into these “rooms” (as Seth calls them) out of some need to generate an emotional state or do I actually need to go there because of my work/life demands?

It may require a little more conscious effort to better understand my own behavior. I think at times I am seeking some sort of emotional experience in an unconscious state — even if those reactions are negative in general. I can say that lately I may not be seeking out emotions on the positive side of the equation … and at the end of the day I know that without balancing the equation things get out of whack.

My Last Google Wave Post

My Last Google Wave Post

Damn Google Wave, I hardly knew you. After all the hype it is now gone. Google canned Wave about two years after they first showed it off to cheers. I recall watching the demo while on vacation and being blown away. The pieces that were shown were literally transformative in their execution. Too bad people just didn’t get it in a mainstream sort of way. Not that I really did after I finally got into the developers’ sandbox. If I am honest, I haven’t even logged into Wave in the last six months. It never made its way into my workflow and it never solved any sort of problem for me.

At the end of the day it failed to fill any sort of void for most people and I think that has to do with the fact that it wasn’t built to fill a void. It was built to be transformative and mind blowing. I am convinced that aspects of Wave will make their way into Google Docs, Sites, Gmail, and their other properties — you know, the tools that were built to do specific things. Imagine Docs with a Wave like panel that allowed teams to dialogue in real language while co-authoring something. That’s a feature I could use right now.

I am actually really impressed that Google killed it so quickly (and sad) … sort of restored my faith in the fact that they release stuff as beta and in this case saw it just wasn’t happening. I need to eat a little crow at how much attention I paid to it in its pre-release days, telling everyone how much this was going to change things. In the end it did a ton of stuff, just not for a ton of people. Again, seems amazing to me that Google could just kill it. Maybe that is the transformative lesson to learn here?

My Pre-Blog Challenge

My Pre-Blog Challenge

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the long-term value of this space since my six year post last month. The thing I have been thinking about is how to bring “pre-blog” work back to life within the context of today, but with the original content of yesterday. I know that sounds really odd, but as I have been thinking about how killer it is to have six years worth of writing and sharing available in this space I have come to the conclusion that I have neglected things from the years prior to that.

My friend and colleague, Scott McDonald, and I are constantly talking about how important it is for us to become curators of our own content — sort of like personal librarians. Not really to expose the work more widely, but to have it in a way that it is organized and managed. With all this in mind I recently went through a couple of boxes of 3.5″ floppies left over from middle school, high school, and college to see if anything is still living. What I found was disappointing in that very few of the disks were still readable … to my point, I let all that go away. What I did harvest I tried to make sense of and organize in new digital archives.

Stack of Floppies

Yesterday, Brad Kozlek and I were talking about some of these ideas and I mentioned that I might start putting some old content here to work it into this space. I want to find a way to bring it into the larger story this space tells about me … and that story certainly started well before my first post here in 2004.

So, with that in mind, the month of August will be my Pre-Blog Challenge month where I will attempt to get as much old stuff in here as I can. At the moment, I am using the category PreBlog to organize all of it. I am also dating back to the original date that the files themselves have on them … so my archives now stretch back into the 1990s … I am hoping to find some even older items as time goes by (I might even have to retype some stuff). My only rule is that I cannot edit the content (as much as I might want to) and have to let it simply hang out as it was when written. I’ve already discovered some interesting things about myself by reading my own words 15 years later. I am also sure as I go along some of what I post won’t be text, but might include old video, pictures, or audio. Who knows. Anyone else doing something like this and want to join in my new one something a day challenge?

Six Years

Six Years

It seems sort of amazing that today is the six year anniversary of this blog space. Amazing because that is such a short time … I always honestly feel like I’ve been here for a heck of a lot longer. I started publishing with “modern” blog software using Blogger back on 7/28/2004 and have been writing mostly in one place since. I’ve been through Blogger, WordPress, and am currently enjoying TypePad to manage my writing and posting. Funny thing is that 2004 wasn’t my first trip around the blogging track, but it marks the time I started to take the idea of managing my own content seriously.

Prior to 2004 I was publishing online in lots of ways and places, scattering my content into spaces that I had no real control over. I set up blogging-like tools as early as 1998 when I first got to Penn State using UserLand Frontier. At the time it wasn’t blogging per se, but I was using a toolset that I built on the Frontier framework that allowed me to do two things with relative ease for the time — automate creating updates for my projects and to create eLearning course materials with the push of a few buttons. I remember showing it to people and most folks looked at me like I was crazy … they were all using Claris HomePage (or something like that to create visual layouts) and pushing them via FTP to webspace. I had been through the rise of the early days of HTML first hand rolling everything (remember hand coding image maps?), then moving into WYSIWYG tools, and finally arriving at the notion that the content was so much more important than the layout. A lesson I still have trouble sharing with people.

This space has represented quite a bit to me over the last six years. It has given me an online time machine that I can get in to see what I was thinking about and working on in the recent past. It has given me an outboard brain to store thoughts, images, and conversation starters unlike any paper notebook ever has. Most importantly it has given me a place to practice my writing with an audience in mind. The notion that when I type here I have the power to publish, share, and engage the Internet is still an amazing feeling. I don’t write as much as I used to and I know I have a very small readership compared to many others, but the notion that what I say here has the power to reach any corner of the unfiltered web is astonishing to me.

The last six years have moved quickly and the web has grown into the ideas I first learned about by reading the Cluetrain Manifesto. I am proud of this space even though it could be viewed as a relatively insignificant contribution to the larger conversation happening all over the Internet at any given time. It is my space and that is all that matters.

The emergence of Twitter and Facebook has challenged and changed the way I write, what I write about, and where I do my sharing. But even in today’s one-button hyper connected web, I know there is a void that is filled with this space. I haven’t been as active here for lots of reasons, but I find myself constantly thinking about writing here and for the most part that is almost as important as actually doing the writing. This blog has taught me how to engage myself in an internal dialogue before I write, it has taught me how to think about engaging people in online conversations, and it has made me a much better communicator. I believe this blog has helped me grow in my career in some very serious ways and I certainly believe it has helped me grow as a person. This space has helped me take more risks — and those risks are calculated and reflected upon in deeper ways because of this space.

At the end of the day this space was started as a place for me to better understand the emergence of the read/write web and it just clicked with me. Many of the initiatives I have pressed forward the last several years are a projection of my own growth through the use of personal publishing platform for expression, reflection, and engagement. I hope the Internet keeps changing and I keep taking advantage of it as a platform to help track my own growth.

Keynote: 2/20/2011: eLearn 2011

Keynote: 2/20/2011: eLearn 2011

I have been invited to be one of the keynote speakers at next year's eLearn 2011 conference in St. Pete Beach, FL. It is a real honor to be a part of a program that also has Alan Levine and David Wiley. This will be an excellent opportunity to think about how my message plays more deeply within the larger world of eLearning design and teaching.

Presentation: 2/15/2011: Educause Learning Initiative

Presentation: 2/15/2011: Educause Learning Initiative

My friend and colleague, Bart Pursel and I will be sharing what we hope will be a growing body of insights and research related to data analyzed from some of Penn State’s web 2.0 platforms. Our session at ELI is titled, “Exposing Emerging Pedagogies: Can Web 2.0 Tools Influence Teaching and Learning?” We will share stories related to how the Penn State Wikipsaces and the Blogs at Penn State are being used in educational settings through the lens of discoveries from the PSU Data Warehouse.

Invited Presentation: 01/25/2011: Washington International Education Conference

Invited Presentation: 01/25/2011: Washington International Education Conference

I have been invited to deliver a talk at the Washington International Education Conference in Washington, DC. It looks a great event and am very much looking forward to speaking to this group. I have been asked to share stories of how social and digital media are challenging what we need to think about as educators. Take a look at the event’s program.

Download the PDF of my slides.