Over the last couple of months, I opened Generous Thinking to a community review process at Humanities Commons. I am thrilled with how the discussion went and am thoroughly enjoying the process of revision started.
Doing that work has had me reflecting a fair bit of late on my working processes, how they’ve changed over the last several years, and how I might want to transform them yet again. And one bit of that potential transformation is leading me, with Dan Cohen, back to blogging, and, with Alan Jacobs, to ponder returning to some related technologies as well.
But it was time for more than a minor refresh here. I started the blog now formerly known as Planned Obsolescence back in 2002, and its title was intended as a tongue-in-cheek jab at the book manuscript I’d just finished revising, The Anxiety of Obsolescence. The blog was my “what, me worry” in the face of the possibility that the book, started six or seven years before as my dissertation, might itself be obsolete before it ever saw print. Fine, I apparently thought: you want obsolete, I’ll give you obsolete.
I didn’t know so many things then. I didn’t know that within the first year of blogging I’d connect with a small crew of other academic blogging folks, including the Wordherders, many of whom became my closest colleagues and friends. I didn’t know that the reading and writing that my blogging friends and I were doing would transform the ways that I thought about scholarly work, not just how it gets done but the purposes it serves. I didn’t know that the blog would wind up hosting the first pieces of my writing to be cited in more formal academic contexts. I didn’t know that the blog would be the place I’d turn when it looked like that first book might not get published, the space where I’d wind up thinking through the puzzles in scholarly communication that eventually turned into my second book. And I had no idea that, in a bit of ironic turnabout, I’d wind up naming the second book after the blog, in part to gesture toward the blog’s preeminence.
All I knew was that I was desperate for someone to read — and maybe even respond — to something I wrote. And this seemed like one way of making that happen.
This space has been at the heart of all of the work I’ve done over the last nearly 16 years. And it seems like a good moment to step away from the notion of obsolescence, if for no other reason than that 16 years is a whole lot of persistence.
I’ve migrated Planned Obsolescence to this new location, and my 301s seem to be working, and the Google authorities have been informed. I’ve also migrated one of my subdomains, Projects, which hosts a few old community review projects. I still need to migrate my teaching-focused subdomain, but that one’s pretty complicated, so it may take me a bit. And I’m itching to get back to work, so it seems like a good moment to launch.
I’m hoping to write some about my revision process in the coming weeks, to think through some of the challenges I’m running up against. And beyond Generous Thinking, I’m hoping to get back to using this space to think through some new ideas — not least because I have no idea what my next project will be.
It’s nice to have a period of not-knowing in front of me again, and a space in which some new connections can be forged. I’m looking forward to seeing where it all leads.