Infinite Musings

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it. Edward R. Murrow

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Reflection

To my dismay I woke up this morning and it was already March 7, 2007. What happened to January? Who stole February before I could turn the page on my Manet wall calendar? I'm still wishing people a Happy New Year! Did I sleep in? I remember as a child, hearing grown-ups, the keepers of time, talk about "time flying". It didn't fly. It drifted by. The summer holidays stretched on and on. March break was really a long break. Well now I understand. But time isn't just flying it's being sucked into some supersonic vortex. I haven't posted a blog--fortunately you can't see me blushing sheepishly--since November. Now that may seem like a long time ago but in fact it feels like the day before yesterday.

This blog is meant to capture my reflections on public history. Is one to assume then, and hopefully Alan MacEachern is not, that I have not been reflecting in the interim? Not so. In fact I have the opposite problem. Too much reflection. I can't stop reflecting. On everything I read...everything I hear. What does "public" mean in public history? What does "history" mean outside of academia? How do we not only interpret, write, teach history but preserve our increasingly digitized, atomized present for future historians? How can I use my skills and make a living doing public history? All things, of course, I can hear Alan MacEachern say, I should be blogging about. All things that my industrious colleagues do blog about. What is my problem? I wish I knew. There is a disconnect, for me, between reflection and blogging. Blogs suggest themselves to me constantly: Exams, Essays and Aspirin, Non-sequitur, Going Public, Hearts of Hamilton, Inpiration from Aisle 4 of the Grocery Store, Meet Time's Man of the Year, Hyphenated History are some blogs stuck in draft mode much mulled and reflected over but never completed, never published. I carry them around in my head as I do all the other reflections, adding, deleting, editing, expanding, linking. But, what good are those reflections trapped up there in the grey cells of my aging CPU? How "public" are they up there? I took the time to copy down (hopefully correctly) these words by Paul Courant from one of the very first readings in Digital History, Scholarship and Academic Libraries (and their kin) in the World of Google. "Ideas must be conveyed to qualify as ideas." "Publish or don't waste our time. If we can't retrieve what you have learned, you have violated your explicit scholarly oath." "Take an idea. If you don't write it down the thought will have no public effect...if you don't publish (or at least teach) then you almost certainly have no effect, not even on the mind." Perhaps I should have pasted these words to the monitor of my computer, repeated them as a mantra every morning. I do believe Courant is correct, and I do believe that this exercise of reflecting and blogging is a useful one. Perhaps if I'd spent less time reflecting about everything and more time reflecting and writing about a few things I wouldn't be shaking myself out of a reverie and noting with incredulity that it is already March 7, 2007.

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