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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, May 16, 2003

Weinberger on the Web

I was part of the crowd that went to hear David Weinberger speak at Seabury last evening. He was talking about "Why the Web Matters;" and it was truly a geek evening. AKMA and Tripp were live-blogging the presentation (check them out for good notes), and several of us were iChatting (IM'ing, whatever) throughout, pondering thought pathways that the discussion stimulated. As you might expect at a seminary, the Q&A portion of the program evolved into a sort of theological discussion, around the difference between communication, and what of a person is revealed through blogging, and how that compares with "live and in person" interaction. David was, naturally, very enthused by the possibilities and dynamics of blogging (as well as other projects, like something called a wikipedia-- and I would include the Disseminary here) as a direct challenge to the "normal" notions of expertise, and limits on access to knowledge. People blog, etc., because we care about a subject/topic/issue; that the web can be essentially (my words, not his) a web of care for other people, as well-- and we're back to the community discussion.

You know, I think David has a point-- but I see limits to it that don't seem to phase him. Yes, there is a part of me that is revealed to folks in my blog, that may not appear to the casual observer-- or even to those who care to be less casual. However, I'd like to think there's more to me than what I choose to put in this blog-- for example, stuff I will discuss far more freely in person than I am willing to post on a public site. Getting those boundaries defined was part of my struggle with the whole idea of "required postings" for classes here, and why I was initially a most reluctant blogger. Further, no matter how technology may progress to allow transmission of virtual touch, most humans have a longing for physical connection that cannot be met by reading someone's journal.

Additionally, as Mark pointed out last week, it's too easy to be disconnected, and abstract, online. I can choose which blogs to read, or not, in a way that I cannot choose my family, or my neighbors, or the person sitting next to me on the bus or in a pew. I can remain in my room, talking without listening, retreating when anyone might actually need, or hurt, or offend, safe behind the cyberspace wall.

Yes, the blogging world is a strange and wonderful thing, but it's not enough.

This morning, I am going bowling with son Kyle's 2nd grade class. They have been penpals with a 2nd grade class from another school in the district, and are now getting together to meet for the first time. They have been writing letters to one another-- low tech blogging, in a way-- all year, which they've enjoyed. And now they will get to meet personally-- an opportunity that has my normally introverted son very excited. "The letters were okay, Mom," he says, "but it's way better to go really play with people."



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