If you visit this little website, you'll find the "paper" I have written about Ze Frank and his fabulous digital storytelling projects "a childhood walk" and "from 52 to 48 | from 48 to 52 with love". It looks at the role of Ze as an "expert facilitator" for the people participating and the relationship between them. The project is my final course requirement for Visual Research Methods, the course for which I initially created this blog. Well, there is one more thing I have to do - a brief reflection on the semester and on academic blogging in particular.
This semester has been a very interesting one for me, particularly as regards this blog. I often find myself wanting to spend time updating and creating this for this blog when I ought to be doing other things. It has provided me a space to elaborate on topics touched on during class sessions but not fully explored (such as the Soja/Gangs of New York/Y Tu Mama post), as well address academically-related lines of thought that are unrelated to any courses I'm currently taking (like "Opportunities Missed"). This is exciting and freeing for me, as there is often not enough time to really dig into topics during class sessions - if what I'm currently academically obsessing over is related to class at all. It's also been a great way to share my initial forays into media creation with world, as I can provide context and explanations not necessarily supported as well on platforms like YouTube. I hope to continue exploring my role/potential as a media artist and feel that this blog will be central to those efforts.
What I have found extremely difficult is finding my voice for this new forum. I have been blogging since high school and use/have used Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Hi5, etc, so I am not unfamiliar with publishing my thoughts online for the world to see. What I am unfamiliar with, however, is expressing my professional/academic thoughts as such for public consumption. As other classmates of mine have noted, use of the "I-voice" and personal/subjective stances have been drummed out of my academic writing during my education, so bringing them back together again for an 'academic blog' has been difficult. I have been painfully aware throughout the process that my voice/style/tone here has been uneven, ranging from the detached attempt to the personal and more informal style of my recent post regarding my sister. This rambling post is just one more example of how I am constantly struggling with where the informal-formal, personal-detached lines exist in this new venue.
Additionally, despite having always been an honors student/overachiever, I am quite often extremely insecure about my academic products and grasp of theory, so a great deal of anxiety wells up within me whenever I hit that "publish" button. Publishing my academic thoughts for anyone to read has forced me to confront and try to work through this insecurity. What if I'm wrong!? What if someone else already pointed this out, and in a more eloquent and complex way?! Who do I think I am, anyway?! While I haven't come to a solution or ideal way of handling these anxieties, working on my blog has at least brought me into dialogue with them. (Also, it's nice to know that I can always just delete or edit a post if it turns out to be horrendously misguided...)
I fully intend to keep this blog running....for as long as I can (read: until I run out of ideas, time, or motivation). I hope you'll keep reading and commenting - maybe our discourse can help us all dig a little deeper into the often murky waters of culture and society.
To address my classmates from this semester for a moment: Thank you so very much. I have enjoyed learning from and engaging with all of you so very much. I sincerely hope you'll all keep up with your blogs or at least keep me posted on your research and ideas - I'll be reading. I value your thoughts and insights and truly hope that this is not the end for us.
...that sounded a little strange, like we're reluctantly breaking-up with each other. I guess that's what feels like a little. Does this mean I need to go eat a pint of ice cream and put on an emo record?