Checking In and Looking Forward

In the past month, I’ve made exactly two new posts. A mere ten of any consequence since May. This is no way to run a blog, I realize. I’m sure you’ve not been losing any sleep over my relative silence, but I thought I’d check in just to let everyone know that I’m still alive and this site hasn’t gone dark.

The truth is that posting will probably remain light. The school year is back in full swing, and my teaching responsibilities keep me pretty busy. On top of that, I’m getting back to work on my doctoral program after a year’s respite. The next hoop I’ll be jumping through will be comprehensive exams, which I hope to knock out between this semester and next. Following that I’ll be entering the dread dissertation stage, which may or may not drag on indefinitely. Hopefully not. I’ll be focusing my research on what I’ve called, in a more popular vein on this site, a Borg Complex. Just in case you were wondering. It turns out to be a good time to be working on the Borg Complex. It’s on display quite a bit lately, especially in discussions about MOOCs and the future of education, robotics and automation, Google Glass, drones, and surveillance technology. For an example of the last of these, see my comment on this thread.

Given all of this, I’ve been less active online than I have been in the past. In fact, I began to wonder where those who participate more actively online find the time. I’ve not looked at the existing research on this, but I’m curious about the demographics of Twitter in particular. I tend to follow academics and folks who are in the tech writing business. Naturally, these folks tend to spend a lot of time sitting in front of a screen as part of their daily activities. It is their work in some regards to be active online. It’s easier for them to participate online regularly throughout the day. This was the case for me when I was a full time grad student for a semester or two and only working a minimal number of hours otherwise. It struck me, then, that Twitter, even if you work hard to avoid creating a filter bubble, is still a kind of socio-economic bubble by default, at least when it comes to those who participate actively since they will tend to be those whose work and family circumstances allow a certain degree of temporal freedom. I may be completely off about that, as I’m just extrapolating from my own experience. All I know is that my particular schedule leaves very little time for social media participation.

Time constraints alone, however, have not accounted entirely for my relative silence of late. You may remember a post from mid-July in which I laid out 11 practical steps I was taking to achieve a relatively healthy and productive relationship with “the Internet.” I’ve been fairly good about sticking to those guidelines and, as a kind of side effect, I’ve found myself a little less eager to write blog posts, post links on tumblr, or participate on Twitter.

In fact — and yes, this is strictly anecdotal and subjective — I have found that the better I stuck to these 11 guidelines that I set up for myself, the better I’ve felt generally. I found there to be a noticeable difference to the feel of a day in which I stuck to the guidelines, particularly after I’d done so for two or three days running, and the feel of a day in which, for whatever reason, I didn’t. And, in my estimation, the difference was a positive one as you may have already assumed.

One last consideration: I’ve also made a decision to focus what time I do have for writing on projects for other sites and journals.

All of this to say that, while I’m not abandoning this site, the posting will likely remain light. Of course, I’ve said that in the past only to then find myself suddenly posting more frequently. Who knows.

Whatever the case, thanks as always for dropping by. I hope all is well in your little corner of the world, wherever that happens to be.

19 thoughts on “Checking In and Looking Forward

  1. I totally relate to all you’ve said here, Michael….I’ve been laying off Twitter and my blog because I’m devoting any spare time I have to preparing my book for self-publication. (I still intend to download your book to see what you’ve done, when time permits.) I, too, wonder how some people do so much blogging and tweeting and have time left for anything else. To paraphrase Satchel Paige, the social media life ain’t restful. Like you, I find myself not missing blogging and tweeting as much as I thought I might, although there are occasional nagging feelings that I’m allowing whatever (already meager) online self I’ve labored to construct over the last few years to evaporate. Another sign, I suppose, of my malingering digital dualism.

    1. Malingering digital dualism … I like that. Speaking of which I did find some time for a little back and forth at Cyborgology lately. It may be of some slight interest. It’s on the post about conservative scientific digital dualism a few days back.


  2. Thanks for the update. I wasn’t sure if you had blocked me as I was going on about Dr William Sadler III and the “U” book.
    I’m still reading your eBook I purchased at GumRoad and find it fascinating and a joy to read!
    So glad you sent this as well. I’m not an intellectual by any means but I truly appreciate and agree on your views on many topics you share.
    Mark Allison

    Sent from da phone

  3. As one who had to do the same for 18 months, I am so sympathetic. The upside was that the break forced me to think — hard — about how I wanted to use my blog going forward. So: godspeed, work hard, have fun. And yeah, per your 11 guidelines (which are, no surprise, similar to my own): Life does NOT begin or end online!

  4. That is what the email updates are for, so blog whenever and we will find it. Someone asked me recently when I found time to blog, and my honest answer was that I wrote when I should have been doing housework. You don’t want to play that card too often…

  5. Really resonate with what you’ve written here, Michael. I fear that I sometimes blog/participate in social to avoid other, harder, more serious work—work that offers no promise of the quick and ephemeral rewards of the online world.

    I printed off your list of 11 things back in July… I’ve not been nearly as successful as you in implementing these guidelines, but I continue to try.

    Thanks for the writing you do on this site. I will look forward to reading whatever you write, whenever you write it :).

  6. I always enjoy your posts, so I have been a little worried about your absence, as a matter of fact! :) I can definitely resonate with wondering how people find the time to be so active online with blogging and tweeting regularly. I have a full time job plus probably too many hobbies, and since starting my new blog I’ve almost entirely stopped studying Japanese, which is not a good thing. How do they do it?

    1. Well, rest assured … all is well! As for how they do it, I suspect, for some at least, the answer is that they get paid to do it. For others, it must be circumstances — fewer family commitments, lots of time in front of the computer, etc. I’d keep up the Japanese and let some blog posts go unpublished, if I were you!

  7. I realized I had not received an e-mail update for a while when I read this post. I think a lot of people are in a similar boat. When you keep your distance to the online world for a while and then check in again, it can feel like you missed so much and need to catch up. But you soon find that staying in tune with the world around you can help keep your mind clear, and free you to explore your thoughts.
    Side Note: Your article on the ways to have a “healthier” relationship with the internet have helped me a lot, and I try to live by them the best that I can. Before reading it, I knew that my relationship to my computer and online was “unhealthy”, but I thought that it was something I would just have to deal with. It’s good to know that there is so much to achieve and explore outside of the internet, even while so many people have completely sold their soul to the net!

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