This post’s title is a play on Mark Sample’s “What about Blogging Keeps Me from Blogging”—a meditation on design aspects that reduce the pleasure of blogging. None of my blog drafts felt ready to publish this week. But revisiting Mark’s blog this afternoon reminded me it’s useful to jump up a level of thinking (blogging => metablogging) and record how things are going, something I’ve tried to do with both my literary studies and more recent DH research. So: how is our Year of Blogging going?
Excellently. You may have noticed this blog has been more active the past few months—following up on the Scholars’ Lab website relaunch, a variety of SLab staff and students have been actively sharing their research in all states here on the blog:
Student scholars funded by our UVA Parents Fund award are using blog posts to share public, novice-friendly documentation on how we apply augmented and virtual reality technologies to learning and research (e.g. Hololens 101, building your own AR headset, 3D content for VR, collaborative Unity projects, and creating indoor illumination in Unity).
Ammon Shepherd designed a collaborative blog series on DH Archiving that’s brought together writers from inside the lab as well as colleagues elsewhere in the Library (so far, posts cover problems in DH archiving, an in-depth exploration of each of those problems, and the long view of DH archiving).
Head of Student Programs Brandon Walsh and I challenged each other to write a blog post each month this year, and others have joined us as well! The key piece making this work is combining that reasonable goal (one post a month) with blocking out the regular time (an hour every other Thursday morning) to hang out in the same place while writing. The posterboard where we’re celebrating each new publication is a nice motivator, and we also created a #YearOfBlogging channel on the lab’s Slack to encourage one another and discuss post ideas.
It’s helped to have colleagues who understand it’s often more helpful to encourage one another feel that no, you don’t need to blog if you have too much on your plate, or you should sleep in if you’ve been ill rather than make our very early biweekly blogging meetup, than to pressure one another into blogging. We’re combining stretching for a goal with knowing any blogging is an achievement. I’ve published 8! blog posts here so far in 2019 (not counting announcement-type posts), versus 2 posts in all of 2018. It’s been lovely to spend so much time focusing my thinking via writing—and that doesn’t count a number of longer things I’ve been writing on that aren’t ready for public sharing (e.g. synthesizing staff ideas into actions toward the future of the lab). So yeah, I’m pretty happy with how this is going! I’ll have to think about ways to extend how well this is working or update the motivation next year (and I’m certain that will ineveitably involve dogs).
Technical changes: For several years, I’ve been meaning to transition to “indie web” approaches, like microblogging and other practices Dan Cohen shared on his blog. I’d also like to return to using something like Pinboard to keep track of interesting projects and writing I run into, without the guilt of adding them to my never-shrinking folder of “to read” bookmarks.
Stylitic changes: As I mentioned in a co-authored post (with Brandon Walsh and Ammon Shepherd) on DH reading and writing practices, I want to experiment further with voice and format. And I’d like to devote time to some longer, more polished essays on topics including mental health as an academic, the scholarship of running a lab, and what I’ve learned from my colleagues here at UVA.
This post’s title is inaccurate, in that I’m not going into depth right now on my relationship with blogging. I think that really merits one of those in-depth posts I just mentioned planning, because blogging is such an intersection of the academic and personal for me, with the additional awareness that blogging and tweeting have led to some of my favorite experiences (like this job!).
But: the main reason I blog is that blogging makes me happy. It was a way to share what I was thinking and what I cared about that got around my difficulty public speaking, back when I found that hard, and blogging helped me figure out not just how to speak at all, but the way in which I wanted to speak. Now that I’m comfortable with public speaking, blogging helps me speak less—removing ideas from my mental backburner to let me focus, when I’m in meetings or other public situations, on always improving how I listen to and hear folks I’m talking with.