Week Two and still looking for the answers to life’s mysteries
Well, I went to Google and found that for a lurker not a seeker of the limelight, I’m well-covered by a couple dozen other people named Gary Stanton who are out there busting their chops to be credited for what they’ve been and done. Ancestry.com has me covered with citations of ten dead guys in the nominal cohort. U-Tube has both pirated (fair use) and volunteered efforts by men and boys named like me, scratching for fame, busking for fortune. Made the sex offender list in Au Claire, another place I can cross off my bucket list. I’m pretty happy with all the pictures except the one Joe Baker took for the U with the view of me. There’s not one Gary Stanton, there are dozens, and in the composite image I’m young, I’ve got hair, I’ve got a nice guitar, I’ve got a real badge (Gary Stanton is a sherrif out there, corraling crooks), I’m fit, and I’ve got a whole alphabet of academic titles after my name. Now, of course, I only went twenty pages back in the Google digest and there were hundreds more, but I’m well-satisfied that anyone looking for me would have lots to chose from.
I remember Gardner’s step away from all night reading of Dante’s Inferno while a faculty member at Mary Washington College, to concentrate on proselytizing computer literacy. He has ridden the leading waves of culture well and he has every reason to champion the World Wide Web as the “big thing”. But having lived with “The Medium is the Massage” and other works of H. Marshall McLuhan, before there was the World Wide Web, I would opine that the man was bright and vigorous, but more an artist playing the media than answering life’s questions. Which brings me to Gardner’s central suggestion and perhaps the central metaphor of “A domain of One’s Own,” that we should be spending time teaching students how to market themselves. Isn’t that what pedagogy is all about? If the medium is the message, then the University is a finishing school for wealth acquisition, and should in these monetized times not waste the increments of the time-money continuum with fundamentals of core skills and competencies. Stick to the importance of style, novelty, and above all publicity. Preach that an ounce of appearance is worth a pound of performance. The effect of digital identity is that it overlays all the other necessary and avocational activities creating a life where there is no downtime, no weekends, no vacations, only time on task and time on the World Wide Web. Adults in their youth of course see this differently, for many being on-line is the constant and being on-task is the variable.
If Gardner is telling us what our priorities as teachers should be, Tim Chambers has mounted his digital soap box to save our choices from the anti-christ of Google and other computer companies. These evil doers are gathering vast quantities of information about our personal habits. I’ve reduced (but not eliminated) my exposure to the possibility of malicious use by not participating in the LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and most other forms of social media. But as much as I marvel at his wonderful literacy, clear rhetoric, and connectedness to this digital reporting sector, I can suggest several other ways to reduce personal exposure. First, pay cash. I wish I could follow this consistently, but seriously without credit (for which we pay whether we use it or not) what would they do, send me to Vietnam? Second, focus on the idea (or the product) not on the by-line. As to my dobbelganger “living” long after me, well maybe I could join the grateful dead, but I’m not trying to sell anything alive, so I doubt anyone will monetize my death. Perhaps Tim is imaging the residuals of life absorbed by greedy corporations. Two thoughts about that, first, ripping off the powerless–it’s called journalism or photography. Second, from the land of the dead came the laff track for movies and television programs extending the memorality of audiences of the Honeymooners and Jack Benny. Where would we be without the sampled sounds inserted to tell us when to laugh and the music bed to tell us when to cry?
The b readings (B&b & b) come closest to providing web mediated content. Although b feels it necessary to create credibility by telling a story on herself, who knows if it is true (it has the sound of truth). Her recommendations are extrapable to every thing in life, whether floating messages across or talking to the policeman just outside your car, put mind in gear before putting mouth in motion. But in academics everyone has the challenging task of writing an introduction for a disparate collection of journal articles–the scholarly equivalent of herding chickens from a horse. But it was thought provoking to ponder on the categories of public and audience. I believe these distinctions only have salience in political social discourse. A blog on builder’s guides published in America in the 18th and 19th centuries may have audience members unknown to the author, but their comments will either be appreciative, informative, or ignorable. There isn’t much debate about the subject, and although death occurs, the deceased rarely has access to digital communications.
So then there’s the moral and it comes out at the end. My goals in blogging and indeed in making digital collections of materials that exist in singular or few hard copy are foremost to make them available free and useable. My persona is hardly at issue. Like b above I cringe when I find errors that I could have corrected. I don’t tell truths, because in my opinion they don’t exist. I try to keep my posts simple with a dash of paradox.