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Feb. 9 Discussion: Self-Edit and Kate Thomas

nk0825's picture

 For the first few minutes of class we discussed the impact of Hannah's visit as well as how we can handle future visits. The class had little input as to what could be changed for future guest speakers because it seemed as though many of us believed the first visit had been rather enlightening and interesting. Hannah's visit to the class not only allowed for our questions to be answered, but also made some of the students remember trips of their own.

The class then moved from a rather "actual" topic regarding Hannah's visit to a more "theoretical" one. Professor Dalke asked about the class's thoughts on "finiteness" based on SGB90's statement: "Now we have technology to make...limitation more evident." After asking ourselves what feelings we had about being finite it seemed some of the students felt blogging made one realize the smallness of self in the universe simply because of all the possible links, thoughts, pages shared, etc. provided by the internet. In this part of the discussion the dislike of reverse chronology was also discussed. It was stated that reverse chronology works if you are reading along from the beginning, but as a reader simply 'dropping by' the reverse chronology is cumbersome and awkward to read considering we are taught to read from first page to last page, not vice versa. 

Following this discussion came the question why do we only post things that we are proud of? To a few of us this point was troubling because it implied that self-censorship not only dictates the way we share ideas in class, but this unnecessary stress is coming (for many of us) from the future. Many students in the class, including myself, cited the reason for monitoring ourselves was caused from some future place by some person judging what we have written. Professor Dalke expressed her thoughts that this self-editing habit inhibits our ability to say the interesting things that quickly pop up in our minds--more or less diminishing our "interesting-ness." This censorship, and even fear, created by the future plagues most of us in the class and disturbs others who believe that a stream of open and immediate thought is worth being shared even if it is not coherent. I can attest to this self-edit because even now, as I am writing this summary I am editing and constantly wondering if what I am saying is making sense. 

It was decided that one must be comfortable representing oneself and this discussion segued into questions concerning copyright laws. It was asked if ideas can be fairly treated as property? And ultimately, yes they are treated as such; however, it was said that rethinking copyright laws to give credit to the fluidity of ideas would be more effective than the current way of restricting ideas being shared and hence barred from future progress and development.

After discussing the importance of these previous topics, some individuals in class were obviously becoming more disturbed as the majority of the class admitted to feeling self-conscious and worrisome over things that might happen in the future--more importantly what others would think of their blogging work in the future.

We then began our discussion of Syllabub: Words on Food by sharing background information about Kate Thomas. This information was a great starting point because sharing her interests (ex: the British postal system in 19th century) allowed us to try and understand her interest in certain topics and why she wrote about them.

Including our previous discussion about self-editing, one person expressed an opinion that Kate Thomas edits herself a great deal, probably because she is proud of her ability to cook and communicate this art-form via blogging.

As in our other talks about blogs Professor Dalke asked if this blog was available and open? Many individuals believed that yes, the blog was in fact invitational--however, this idea was qualified by the statement that although it was inviting, the reader did not feel invited to comment. One person believed it wasn't a typical blog because the style reminded her more of a novel. This brought us to asking the question: if something is so beautifully crafted, are we invited to just admire it? And furthermore, does the blog's beauty further encourage self-edit of those who want to comment because they do not want to "mess" the beauty up?

From these comments one person said she felt that the term "invitational" was causing us to think of blogs too strictly, reasoning that can't blogs jut be available to others and be inviting in that sense?

Class was extremely interesting because many, many extremely thoughtful points were discussed regarding the censorship of our thoughts, worries, and in Kate Thomas's case how and why boundaries are placed between blogs and [Kate's] academic life. Is it because blogging, for her, is more of a hobby than any sort of statement? Or is it because in Syllabub: Words on Food there is not a critical analysis of food, merely a beautiful description and observation of recipes she has tried, which would reflect poorly upon her as a professor? This class perfectly showcased the many questions blogs of all types prompt, maybe because it is still a developing genre and maybe because people are still trying to adapt to such a quick and open means of thought sharing.

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