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Disappearing Act

Before I (re)start (ed)blogging1, if that is indeed what ends up happening here, I feel like I should think about why I stopped.

Because I worked in education and technology in the early years of the modern era (1995ish)—and because I had fallen into early use of the Internet (BITNET!) and primitive email (and eventually the web) as part of my creative writing efforts and a desperation to connect with other writers outside of my little Alaskan town, with all the tendency toward confessional writing you’d expect from a poet in those days—I naturally “blogged” and only a little less naturally wrote about education and technology.

I owe pretty much all of the career I’ve had (and my never-ending impostor syndrome) to friendships2 I made during the subsequent golden age3 of blogging, before [insert your preferred suspects here, usually to include the rise of social media] gutted the scene.

Looking back at my writing over those years—I still have a lot of it scattered around in files despite my propensity to metaphorically4 burn my writing every few years—my questions and my (lack of) answers have remained remarkably consistent:

  • What comprises pedagogy as we roll into a (deeply unevenly distributed) networked and digitized age?
  • What does the social part of learning look like in the light of new technologies and their effect on society?
  • Are we witnessing the emergence of a new orality5?
  • Does the space where networked and collaborative writing technologies overlaps with tools of creative augmentation and multimedia represent a new genre?
  • Is now our chance to break out of the seemingly endless cycle of pioneering, rebellious, skeptical educational thought emerging and fading away with (at best) barely perceptible impact on education as most will experience it?6

I used to think, not just with blogging but also through my work and teaching, that I was finding my way toward some answers7 and might even have something original and useful to contribute to the discussions.

Then, in a perfect storm of job changes and near self-obliteration at the hands of unrelenting depression, something—many somethings, in fact—broke in me and an externally imposed period of isolation turned, seamlessly, into a self-imposed silence.

The sequence was8 roughly: nothing left inside → nothing at all to say → nothing worth saying → nothing new to add to what my betters were saying.

I’ve continued writing, just not about education9 and rarely in public.

So I’m using the 9x9x25 Challenge, the last number quite literally10, as a way to restart some kind of public writing practice.

If you’re looking for superb solutions, powerful profundity, fascinating facts or prescient practice11, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

This is a place for parentheticals, a fortress of footnotes and an address for alliteration.

On my mind lately (AKA things you might find here in the future) at least loosely related to education and technology:

  • Mindfulness12, meditation, attention and focus.
  • The stale fiction of intellectual property.
  • Creative constraints and their relationship to practice (in multiple sense of the term).
  • The value of learning by heart13.
  • The problematic concept of “digital citizenship.”
  • Positive productivity.
  • Ephemerality.

We’ll see what happens…

  1. I was blogging before weblogs and blogs were referred to by those names. ↩︎
  2. “Friendships” not “connections.” ↩︎
  3. The good old days of blogging felt precious at the time and the window of that golden age was short: by 2008 I was part of a “The Blog is Dead! Long live bloggers” panel at another stalwart part of those halcyon days, the Northern Voice conference↩︎
  4. mostly. ↩︎
  5. See: Walter Ong and the Gutenberg Parenthesis. ↩︎
  6. For that matter is it even possible to be part of any such change within an institution? ↩︎
  7. Insert Ron Howard in Arrested Development voice-over voice saying, “he was not.” ↩︎
  8. Is. ↩︎
  9. Except when it turns up, usually in the shape of “the system” in journals or letters. ↩︎
  10. I’m a big fan of this kind of creative constraint. And of cheating those constraints, as I am with these footnotes. ↩︎
  11. Or Oxford Commas except where needed. ↩︎
  12. for teachers, for teaching, for learners, for learning, as teaching, as learning, &c. ↩︎
  13. In the most Ancient Greek sense of understanding and committing within our core. ↩︎


  1. I also stopped “blogging” not for exactly the same reasons but similar, in that the world seemed to be descending into a series of unending crises and my tepid-take observations or home made GIFs seemed at best, frivolous and at worst, a dangerous distraction. A bit like playing the fiddle while Rome burned. The absence has certainly made me gloomier, more pessimistic, and more sad because I didn’t find anything healthy or creative to replace the activity.
    I have found katexic to be a ray of sunshine during this dark time. It’s like it opens up little portals of wonder and curiosity and allows me to imagine a world that is not really just a flaming dumpster filled with greedy morons maintaining systems to annihilate half the world’s poorest. Ah, I digress.
    I’m so happy to see you doing 9x9x25 and writing about whatever the hell moves you.

    • I so get this. I didn’t even get into the soul-sucking despair of the dumpster fire that is the last few years because I’d already dropped out of the blogging scene…but it has been a major factor in not finding a way back.

      Creating Katexic and Notabilia—despite the routine depressive urge to abandon them—has been a source of light for me. It means so much to me that something I do is a good thing in your life!

      And I’m also grateful to see you are taking part in 9x9x25…as far as I am concerned, that project is already working!

  2. I agree with Giulia – Katexic is fantastic. I’m looking forward to seeing what you write here – with absolutely no pressure to post. I’m in a bit of a blog funk lately as well – most parts of my life are just not bloggable at the moment, leaving a mopey cancerblog? ugh. maybe a 9x9x25 challenge would help? Not sure. Not feeling in a “write” headspace, and that’s OK. It’ll come when I’m ready. As it will for you.

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