Grand Experiment

The world does not need another blog. Time will tell, but I think I can create one others may want to read. I will post on Mondays throughout 2008 and then decide whether to continue. If I’m successful in building a readership and if this activity contributes positively to my off-line writing, I’ll change the name of my blog in January 2009 and continue.

My writing process has three parts. The first part is the nearly non-stop reflecting on all aspects of daily life. This is the Woody Allen internal dialogue that I suspect everyone experiences to greater or lesser degrees. At times, I wish I wasn’t as introspective as I am, but I guess it’s better than the alternative. I think the second part involves my subconscious filtering the steady stream of reflections into more coherent patterns and themes. This is a form of pre-writing. Finally, there’s the formal writing up of the filtered stream of reflections. When I get to that point, I think in terms of paragraphs and make a list of bulleted points, each one representing one paragraph.

I anticipate my posts falling much more along the lines of semi-filtered streams of reflection than carefully crafted off-line essays I’d submit for publication.

In print media, editors play an important role and I’m sympathetic to the argument made by Andrew Keen in “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture.” Instead of democratizing knowledge and jump starting civic and political life, Keen argues that without gatekeepers, the internet has led to a profusion of inane content on the internet and a general dumbing down of public life. But one upside of near-complete editorial freedom is the tone of my posts will be more casual, informal, and playful than what most editors of mainstream publications would accept.

I like Slate magazine a lot because of its contrarian bent, its edginess, and occasional humor. Like Slate journalists, I will question conventional wisdom, but you’ll have to decide just how edgy and humorous I am. I don’t anticipate my blog being as much of a personal diary as most I skim. Instead of describing the mix of cereals I combine in my bowl on any given morning (Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Wheat Chex, my wife’s amazing granola, topped with dried blueberries), I want to analyze aspects of contemporary life and float ideas that I hope will prompt conversation among diverse groups of people.

Admittedly, the best bloggers post several times a week, but my writing process is slow. I want to allow for that slowness and set what I think is an achievable goal.

What will I write about? Again, the best blogs have a clear focus. I suspect the creators of those blogs can talk specifically about their audience. I have to confess I don’t have a clear sense of my intended audience except to say I hope it’s a cross-section of society. I’m an academic that has tired of writing for academic journals that are read by a handful of other academics. My desire is to engage a wide range of people that might be reading my posts on their wireless laptops at their local coffee shop. In the end, I want readers to describe my writing as authentic. This feels a bit like starting a business without a business-model.

I anticipate philosophizing about many things including: education, writing, parenting, personal finance, fitness, politics, popular culture, and globalization. Maybe, in a nutshell, wellness writ large. In fact, that might be a decent title for this blog a year from now if all goes well.

3 thoughts on “Grand Experiment

  1. I am excited Ron. Thanks for sharing. Can’t promise I will be checking in as often as on Sakai, but expect me to be part of your audience, for better or for worse. :)

  2. Hi Ron, Travis told me you were launching a blog. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts although I’m not a big fan of blogs because I think they tend attract too many nut cases without enough to do. I don’t know, maybe that’s a good thing.

  3. I’ve read every word you’ve written to this point and you are indeed a deep thinker – keep up the good work and keep making US think – I can only speak for myself but I know I need it!

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