The Disappearing Month

For the first time in the nearly nine-year history of this blog, I have failed to post here for an entire calendar month. There will forever be a gap where February 2011 should be in the archives.

I wish I had a good reason for the failure to post. There’s been a fair bit of travel, yes, and a bit of general upheaval of a sort that I can’t really write about yet, and there’s been a fair bit of other writing that’s had to take precedence, but mostly there’s just been not-blogging. A failure to look at the world from the perspective that finds stuff worth blogging about.

I hope to do more of that in the coming weeks. It’s important to me that I get back to writing here, in no small part because of the role this space has played in the development of my work over the last nine years (a figure I clearly cannot get over), and because the record that’s preserved here of the things I was reading and the ideas I was developing was crucial to my forthcoming book.

The problem (one that Kevin is also wrestling with today) is that the diversification of means of sharing whatever random thought is going through my head at any given moment has led me to speedier ways of sharing those thoughts, many of which I intend to develop further here but — well, having gotten them out in speedier chunks, I no longer feel the same pressure toward development.

The bottom line, though, is that I miss it here: I miss the kinds of thinking that a commitment to writing here regularly produced, and I hate the gaps in the record that other forms of communication have produced here. So, back to blogging.

And let the February 2011 gap remind me of what happens when I stop.

Nothing, of course. Which no one will notice other than me. But which I will regret nonetheless.

A Brief Technical Aside

Just to note that in the, what, four or five days since I’ve added the ReCaptcha plugin here, I’ve received a total of seven spam comments. In a similar span of time before adding the ReCaptchas, I’d have had upwards of 1500 — almost all of them caught by Akismet, but nonetheless taking up bandwidth and brainspace. Thanks, bot-foilers!


In the hopes of getting things around here moving a bit, of breaking up the logjam in my head, and of figuring out what’s ahead of me as I move on to new projects in the second half of my sabbatical, I’ve taken the utterly unlike me step of signing up to participate in #reverb10. For the rest of this month, I’ll be responding to daily prompts aimed at reflecting on the year that’s ending, and projecting my thoughts for the one ahead.

I’m curious to see how this goes.


Today’s the first day of the eleventh annual conference of the Association of Internet Research, and the sixth of which I’ve attended. It’s lovely catching up with some of the folks I often see at these conferences, but also great getting to meet and hang out with folks I only sort of know from online venues.

I’ve decided to try to blog the conference a bit; I miss the heady days of heavy-duty conference blogging, and thought I’d try to see if I can recapture some of that.

This is the first conference day I’ll be spending with just the iPad, though; I decided to leave the laptop in the hotel today to see how well I’d do with just the more portable device.

We’re only one session in, but it’s working well so far. With one exception: switching back and forth from PlainText (in which I’m taking notes) to Twitter and WordPress is mildly annoying. Come on already, iOS 4.1…

Past and Future

For the next few days, my “Five Years Ago” block at right will be filled with post-Katrina posts. After all these years with the blog, it still feels very odd to have such a record of past trauma, the detail of what was going through my head in those days when I desperately needed someone around me to understand how bad things were in New Orleans.

The power of this kind of record is part of what makes me agree with Paul Carr’s assessment: what I’ve gained in immediacy and community via Twitter, I’ve lost in preservation, longevity, even permanence.

It’s this kind of thing that has me torn between the precious little time I have for this kind of writing and the desire to keep those thoughts somewhere I might get back at them five years from now.


I’m way more pressed for time than I’d like right now, finishing up a bajillion details involved in moving myself and a subset of my stuff across the country for the next ten months, but I want to be sure to take a second to note the absolute awesomeness of Anthologize, the new WordPress 3.0 plugin developed by the One Week | One Tool workshop, sponsored by the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities. The plugin is designed to take you from blog to book — or, even better, from many blogs to many kinds of book-like outputs. I’ve only just begun playing with it, but can easily imagine it become a key part of my Intro to Digital Media Studies class, and I can also see its utility in repurposing thematically-linked blog posts in more permanent, more “official” form.

Huge congratulations to the Anthologize team, and I look forward to watching — and participating in — the project’s further development.

Five Years Post-Tribble

My “five years ago today” feature reminds me that the aforementioned time has spanned since the uproar over Ivan Tribble’s infamous screed hit the Chron (now available at a new URL). There are certainly many more academic bloggers than there were in 2005, and there are even some whose blogs are taken seriously as the key venues in which they’re publishing their work. But I’m curious about the degree to which attitudes about blogs have changed — both whether they have, and why. Is it only the rise of social networking systems that privilege immediacy (c.f. Facebook, Twitter) that have lent the relative leisureliness of blogs a kind of seriousness? Is it that we’re using blogs differently, now that we’ve got other outlets for the top-of-the-head thoughts that used to land in venues like this one?