On My Own Ambivalence

I have a rocky relationship with the practice of maintaining a personal blog.
There are plenty of people I admire in academia, the arts, and tech, who blog as a form of scholarly communication, yet I have been hesitant to throw my hat into the ring. Fermenting one’s ideas in private is important, and I don’t fancy a public archive of my own evolving naïveté. Yet I envy the masterful and careful bloggers in our midst who have amassed deep compendiums over the years. As someone who spends a good portion of his day pontificating on the web’s history, I hold the value of a public, long-term, personal knowledge repository in high regard. On Saturday in a post celebrating the 10th birthday of waxy.org, Andy Baio shared the three simple ground rules that he laid out when he founded the blog:

1. No journaling, unless it’s relevant to people who don’t know me. Example: “Today I went down to 7-11 and bought a Slurpee. Strawberry is my favorite flavor!”

2. No tired memes, unless I have something to add. Example: “Take this quiz and find out which Smurf you are! I’m Jokey!”

3. Be original.

In the spirit of these three rules, and with the intent of having a place to share my research more frequently and freely, I am newly devoted to slowly cultivating this humble web log, with the hope of shaping it into a repository of careful, if somewhat infrequent dialog.

Jonathan Swift on Information Diets & Skimming

“The most accomplished way of using books at present is twofold: either first to serve them as some men do lords, learn their titles exactly, and then brag of their acquaintance; or, secondly, which is indeed the choicer, the profounder, and politer method, to get a thorough insight into the index by which the whole book is governed and turned, like fishes by the tail. For to enter the palace of learning at the great gate requires an expense of time and forms, therefore men of much haste and little ceremony are content to get in by the back-door.”

Pennsylvania Hex

Today at the library while perusing the catalog – I stumbled upon this. It is a bound pamphlet published in 1945 (original printing), and is a fantastic source on the mysterious Hex, the circular patterns that traditionally adorned Pennsylvania Dutch barns. They are popularly thought of as possessing mystical powers, perhaps to protect livestock, or protection from fires. He dispels any mystical notions other than a christian one, and illustrates how these symbols evolved from early christian symbolism. The color illustrations in the spread are simply gorgeous…