New season, new blog

Hi! My name is David, and this blog is intended to be a way of sharing my thoughts about the world of Library and Information Science (LIS), since that is the subject in which I am about to begin a master’s degree at City University London, as part of the Library School #citylis. I am excited, mainly because this is a new and welcome opportunity for me, but also because the Department (headed by Dr. Lyn Robinson and Prof. David Bawden, both of whom have excellent blogs) is renowned for its focus on conceptual openness of the idea of the “library” and the possibilities – philosophical, technological, and ethical – that information science poses for 21st-century society.

One particular feature of the course is that it makes use of social media platforms (Twitter, blogging sites, and so on) in order to interact with, and gain feedback from, students taking the program. Having been used to very much more traditional teaching style during my time at university prior to this (I did a BA in English at Cambridge, followed by an MPhil in Medieval Studies at Oxford, if you really want to know), this should all be very new, enlightening, interesting, and ultimately very useful indeed.

There’s just one problem, and that’s this:

I am a terrible blogger.

That’s right, you heard me. I am simply terrible. Being excruciatingly awkward in most face-to-face social situations, the idea that my half-baked musings about life and other topics of interest seemingly to me alone might be read over the Internet by just about anyone in the world fills me with a certain non-negligible amount of terror. While admittedly some may seem the anonymity of the online op-ed (or indeed nasty Twitter comment) as liberating, I still feel deeply embarrassed whenever I try to write blog posts, as I were composing dead letters to a recently departed girlfriend only for them to be read by a passer-by (who, incidentally, can also instantly find out my identity).

Compounded to this are problems of structure and tone. For one thing, I’ve no idea how to begin! Or how to come up with postings that a). aren’t beyond dull, yet b). appear with sufficient regularity to satisfy my followers (should I ever have any)! Perhaps all first-time bloggers feel this way, and some of them may or may not be just as vocal about it (I haven’t checked). The typical blog post seems, after all, to straddle several of the territories occupied by previous forms of writing: a potent admixture of memoir, editorial, review, letter, autobiography, diary entry and self-advertisement is often the result, stridently public yet at the same oddly private, too.

And perhaps this formal confusion is the source of my anxiety. All previous blogs I have tried to write (all of which, thankfully, now consigned to the recycle bin of Internet history) were far too personal in many ways. With any luck, the added impetus of having to write in order to fulfill the requirements of my course at City will help me get over some of the difficulties I have in writing in this medium. All I can say for now is, we can but hope; at least I’ve managed to write this post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: thulrbaker

Rare books cataloguer and current student in LIS at #citylis, London.

2 thoughts on “New season, new blog”

  1. I don’t think you are a terrible blogger. In many ways deciding what is good or bad writing is up to the reader, but communication is an art, and overall I notice some people have more affinity with the process than others. Just because we have the technology, doesn’t mean we automatically have the talent. It is possible to get better at writing by practicing. I was told many times over in school that the way to learn to write was to read. I have a suspicion that it might matter what you read, especially in our contemporary world of multichannel sound bites, but I believe this advice stands the test of time. From your writing, I would be brave enough to guess you have read a lot. Enough to realise, perhaps, that the world is furnished with many outstanding writers, each gifted with original thought and compelling style. I have noticed this too. And so I wonder if there is any point in adding my somewhat insignificant prose to the already overflowing library of babel. In spite of this, I still write. Writing is a journey all of us are allowed to take if we wish.

    I recall you asked if I thought it was acceptable to delete your own writing if you want to. The quick answer would surely be ‘yes’; how many of us have not ripped up our diaries, consigned our type written pages to the bin or burnt letters returned from ex-lovers? The more considered answer takes into account the question of ‘the record’. By erasing what we wrote originally, are we deleting history, maybe re-writing our own personal stories to paint ourselves in a more flattering light. Undoubtedly we are. And unless we are operating in a formal position within the public sphere, I see no reason why we cannot ‘rip it up and start again’. Of course, some may opine that it is beneficial to see how great writers developed, by pouring over their earlier, less polished works. But that does not make it mandatory for each of us to endure the toe-curling embarrassment of words we wish we had never written, letting them taunt us every time we consider our back catalogue. I have scrubbed much of my ‘creative output’, and indeed continue to do so. I have on occasions, however, taken fond pleasure in discovering handwritten ‘plays’ which I wrote in junior school. These are never intended for public consumption, and yet I allow them to remain in their box in the attic. This I think, highlights the point of departure between the past and the present. The box in the attic is today a server in the cloud. It is difficult, if not impossible to delete things we committed to the data deluge. The ever-presence of our digital shadows somehow forces us to believe we need to carry our past around forever, even if we change or minds, learn more or simply grow-up. I don’t think we have to, and if consigning early drafts to the digital flames allows us to carry on our written journeys, then fine.

    So, I will end where I started. I don’t think you are a terrible blogger. I concede that putting your name to a piece of writing and putting it on the internet takes courage, and certainly, some readers may be bored, disinterested or even disagree with you, but some, like me, will think you write rather well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lyn, this comment meant a lot to me.

      My concerns over my writing are, I am ready to admit, part of an ongoing struggle I am engaged in with my own perfectionist streak. I hope as part of the challenge I have been set (and, in no small way, have set myself) in writing this blog to work towards improving my skill at communication in this medium.

      Liked by 1 person

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