Goal Displacement

February 9, 2010

I can’t believe I’ve been at this for a month and I’m already addicted. I race home from work to log back on to my computer and check my various sites,  I’m reading and clicking, links take me to other links, and next thing I know I’ve lost the evening. This is not so good. There will be WORDS SPOKEN before too long.

On one level it’s exciting. I’m learning so much. On another it’s very inefficient. There are a lot of built in redundancies. Last night I found myself responding to a friend on both email AND Facebook at the same time which seemed pretty stupid. (Quite frankly I just don’t get Facebook. What is the point? My need to find out which Twilight character I am most like or to provide a star rating against the movie Avatar are both underwhelming).  I ventured into the cyberworld and now I’m connecting to all sorts of long lost friends and acquaintances (I think of it as the 5 minute curiosity window). And I find myself trying to account for my last 20 years in 4 lines or less. The fact that I am able to do so is even more disturbing. It’s all very superficial. We make connections but it would be a mistake to assume they are relationships, except in the most fleeting sense of the word. This is not an original critique. Just one I am living at the moment.

And the professional and personal does start to blur. I find myself slipping and needing to pull back every now and again. But I’m longing to share. I find myself with a need to share great websites and opinion pieces, YouTubes and blog spots. So, after years of relative silence and very functional communication from me, my poor colleagues are being bombarded in a meteor shower of web junk. The good news is that like most of the projects I start it will probably have a short shelf-life (alongside the mad crochet craze, the drumming lessons, or the urge to go jogging).

The challenge for me is to stay focused on the teaching and not allow the technology to take over. The point is to be reflecting upon the opportunity to bring my teaching to life. As role theory reminds me, this is a classic case of role interdependency. Without students it’s difficult to be a teacher!

But while I wait for students to arrive this is an important insight to hold on to. The technology is a vehicle. And we can be pretty overwhelmed by the look of the vehicle: the colour, the engine size, the on-road handling and – in my case – whether it comes with a cup holder. It becomes easy to lose sight of its function, which is to get us from A to B. When it comes to cars, I have enormous affection for my bicycle. And most of the time my hybrid bike gets me from A to B just fine without all the flashy additions. On the other hand…

 Image (and product) from http://www.somafab.com/morningrush.html

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One Response to “Goal Displacement”

  1. Phillip Long Says:

    This reminds me of friends starting into Twitter (microblogging, your next frontier – you think a four lines of text is challenging, try 140 characters – it gives a whole new meaning to the word “pithy”). Of course it can be time consuming, wasteful and superficial. Anything new can. Deciding through what channels to concentrate attention is one dimension worth some thought. Facebook is good for many people because it, is versatile even if its very breadth makes it a target for the more superficial past times that are revealed in popular culture. But, even there the phrase “baby with the bathwater” comes to mind. Apply the same scrutiny and care you would to any new information source there, as you would picking up a new communication form. For you this may be just the wrong mix. But it’s funny about the ‘long-tail effect’, nuggets may yet be found.

    Discipline, however, is a by-word. Going into this space, especially in these early stages, it’s important to have a sense of why. Finding those (possibly new) colleagues with similar interests whose voice/intellect you respect becomes even more crucial. Where are the other action research oriented social community activists and scholars online? You likely know who a core group are in your professional world. Write them (egad – a letter might be just the right option – or an email directly – or a phone call) and ask if they’re online and where they’re blogging or what sites/resources they’ve found most useful. Some (many?) may respond with little enthusiasm or perhaps even the skepticism you may remember yourself. If so, introduce them to what you’ve found/learned. Others may in fact suggest some locations/people/sites that you have yet to discover. And of course still others may think you’re a bit ‘out there’ and not have the interest or time. That might be a mutual conclusion.

    Have you started putting together your RSS feed list to focus and make more efficient your time online? You can just use Google Reader, or, if you prefer a more newspaper like look there are some nice tools to have your feeds delivered as an personal ‘news’ site, populated by your choice of RSS feeds, that can be emailed as a link to you daily if you prefer. The pattern, frequency and intensity of the engagement is your choice. As it should/must be.

    Love the blog btw – you’re now on my RSS feed!


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