technology enabling connections

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I came home tonight and announced to my husband that I've decided blogs are "the way and the truth and the light." Only partially in jest. But in the past few weeks, I've gone through what feels like a genuinely transformative experience. I remember feeling the same way when I discovered e-mail, and CompuServe, and FidoNet, and mailing lists, and ICQ. All of them "social technologies." All of them changed my view of the world. (Hey, I met my husband via FidoNet. 'Nuff said.)

For the past few years, I've been living in too much of a box--interacting only with the people directly around me at work and at home. I feel like a switch has been thrown, and I have a new and insanely powerful communication channel available now--one that lets me connect with people who share my ideas and interests, one that lets me think "out loud" (which has always been how I prefer to think), with immediate feedback and reinforcement.

The connections I've already made through this medium are truly extraordinary. When was the last time I could say that someone I was having a one-on-one conversation with had just had dinner with Lawrence Lessig? Or that I was exchanging ideas about my web design course with someone at the University of Bergen? Or that a major figure in the development of software my students use every day had been reading my online thoughts?

Yeah, so there's obviously an ego thing there. (Shades of Sally Field: "They like me! They really like me!") But it's more than that. It's the thrill of finding kindred spirits--people who are enthusiastic about technology in the way that I need to be if I want to teach it well. These kinds of connections are what can keep me intellectually alive.

6 Comments

Interesting relationship with the strength of weak ties

Did you turn of "html in comments"?
There should have been a link to:
http://joi.ito.com/archives/2002/10/09/ray_ozzie_on_the_strength_of_weak_ties_blogs_and_email.html

Bravo. Great comments. Make connections. Connect. Feel alive. Move out of the comfort zone. To inspire... this is the best you can ask of yourself and your blog.

BTW. Love the dotted lines for hyperlinks. is this liz or moveable type. very cool.

If I only could get my head around this CSS stuff... soon....afk

I know. It's stunning, isn't it! And constantly that shock of WOW ! I'm communicating with these people! LIke when I wrote about readint Steven Johnsons book Emergence (which I loved) and HE WROTE ME EMAIL in response. That's just so weird, he's a guy in the bookshelf, you know?

And yes, as you say, finding kindred spirits is just amazing... yes there are some locally too, but the discussion is just so much richer opened up like this, globally! I adore it.

And regularly hit the dirt when I try and explain it to my real life friends and they don't get it.

actually that's not quite true. Lots of them get it. Some of them have started blogs of their own. Some hate it but then a few months later it turns out they like ti...And there are also a whole lot who don't get it.

Joi--Yes, I do have HTML in comments turned off. I can turn it back on, after I add the plug-in a colleague just sent me to suppress dangerous code.

Allan--the link styles are my modifications to the stylesheet. The dotted lines are controlled in two different places (since the links in the entries are handled differently from the links in the side content). You can see the stylesheet directly by loading http://www.it.rit.edu/~ell/mamamusings/styles-site.css into your browser.

What I did was create a "test" blog in a separate directory, and play around with the CSS until I got the effect I wanted. I tweaked colors, size of the divs, link effects, etc. Change the appearance of blockquote, too. Once I had it how I wanted it, I copied and pasted the new CSS into the template for the main blog. (Did the same thing for modifiying the layout of the page with template codes--tweaked the test blog so that it would show a permalink, list of related categories, recent comments, etc.)

I did it partly because I'm a control freak, and partly because that's the kind of tinkering I'm going to ask my students to do next year. I think starting with something good and making it "your own" is a much better way for most people to learn than starting with a blank page. We'll see if my students agree.

Jill--It's surprising me to me that more of my colleagues don't get it yet. We're definitely still in the minority. But that was true for all those other social technologies, too. In the meantime, it makes it all the easier for like minds to find each other, because the ones who do "get it" are here, and the ones who don't...aren't. :-)

Hi Liz. Read your comment when you posted it and now just getting to digging into this CSS. You did it the right way. Testing in a category. I'm afraid my site has been a bit schizophrenic the past two days while I test things live. Hey. Live a little. No major changes yet. But all in the name of learning, while trying to keep current, relevant and interesting. tnx /allan

 

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on November 5, 2002 7:59 PM.

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