I publish, therefore I am

I’ve been mulling (hat tip to Gardner) this topic for a while.

It occurs to me that, frequently, when talking about how web 2.0/read-write web/pick your tired label can impact teaching and learning, we often talk about how these tools, technologies, and techniques enable students to publish. In fact, at UMW, when discussing UMW Blogs, we’re getting used to referring to it not as a blogging system but as a publication platform.

For me, there is something of tremendous and inherent value in this notion. But I wonder if that’s the case for everyone?

I freequently refer to myself as a frustrated artist (or, when being glib, a talentless artist ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I love to create, although I have no great illusions of my talent. That’s okay. I don’t really care. It’s enough for me to know that I can create things and put them out there for others to see.

I still remember back in 1996 when I was a senior in college using the Web for the first time. I was on the debate team that year, and we had discovered Alta Vista as a tool for doing research into our cases. As I was graduating, a few of the younger members of the team started to make noise about building a site for our team. I remember feeling intensely jealous. I was dying to learn how to create Web pages — how to make to make stuf and put it out there — how to publish.

But, I’m someone who likes to be out there. As I child; I acted; I wrote; I sang;ย  I wished I could draw. But, frankly, that’s not how everyone is wired, is it?

I’m married to someone who isn’t wired this way at all. I’ve been pushing him for years to blog about some of his teaching experiences and techniques. He’s sort of interested, but he says he doesn’t have the time. For me, I’ve discovered that I have to make the time or I don’t feel fulfilled.

As an academic, he values publication. I know he’d like to have more time to do research (and, consequently, writing), but I don’t think publication, in and of itself, is that important to him.

(It occurs to me as I write this that perhaps my obsession with putting myself out there is just a form of narcissim ๐Ÿ™‚ )

When I talk to faculty and students about this aspect of what technology enables, I usually assume I may be up against some resistance. But I assume that resistance is founded in anxiety or fear about making public mistakes, being stalked, etc. After thinking about it some more, I wonder if the resistance is more emblematic of a fundamental disinterest in publication for publications sake.

In fact, I was being glib before, but I suppose the joke that blogging is just a form of “naval-gazing” is really a suggestion that it is narcissistic.

I guess I’m wondering if most educators see public presentation of work as a requisite aspect of education?ย  And, if they don’t, should they? I think they should, but I need to think about why and how I explain that.

In a way, I know I’ve thought about this before (I do talk to faculty and students about why public presentation is a good thing), but perhaps not as explicitly as I should — and perhaps I’m not addressing the real disconnect.