Monthly Archives: May 2007
It has been a few years since I curled up and enjoyed a fiction novel. The last few years have been filled with stuff related to my research interests and theory coursework. Yesterday, after looking at the Coupland book sitting on my entrance table, I decided to pick it up, and settle in. I forgot how much fun it was to read a book cover to cover in one sitting. How fun it was to read the story of someone else’s life, in rich, entertaining detail. But most of all, I forgot how much fun it was to read something that made you think about things that you may have otherwise not thought about. Coupland’s book made me think about my own cooky extended family, and how they made me what I am today – whether I want to admit it or not. The generalizable in each unique story was comforting. I forgot about the life lessons and deep philosophical questions an author sneeks into their candid words. I realized that not everything had to be written in long convoluted, sentences written in exagerrated language to make you think. I forgot how fun fiction was.
Surely the web is an ambiguous space to think about the line between public and private. For many, the ‘public’ space of the world wide web is often accessed through very private quarters – a living room or one’s bedroom. The comment posted on my last public/private rant is well worth the read, as it offers a few nuggets to ponder on generation & technology issues.
But as I sit outside of my newly purchased ground floor apartment (I always feel weird calling it a condo), looking over my whopping 1300 sq ft of what will someday become my enclosed little piece of inner city heaven, I am reminded that people can’t even figure out the difference between public and private in their everyday lives. We negotiated quite harshly to own the small swatch of land behind our apartment; to have sole ownership of the currently desolate parking area that will someday – hopefully soon – become our yard. A yard where my daughters and I can relax on a freshly built patio while their father barbecues dinner. Maybe even looking at some greenery thanks to the thumbs of my friends.
At the moment, there is no fence to clearly distinguish the line of public property of the alleyway and the private property of our ‘yard’. Perhaps thats why everyone and their uncle feels that they’ve struck inner city parking gold when they spot space for 4 cars! It iritates me to no end. Not only because it is our PRIVATE property, not only because the driveway is sinking and we can only park on certain spots for any period of time – but also because of the lack of respect for someone else’s property. When I encounter someone unlocking their door, their attitude to me (usually before I can say much of anything) is “yea yea, I was just leaving”. But that’s not the point really. I am often tempted to ask for their house address, just in case I need free parking when/if I am in their neighborhood. I cannot imagine how any of these massive SUV owners (currently, it is usually SUV’s who park here since street parking must be hell for a boat) would feel if I pulled up to their fancy pants house in the suburbs, and casually parked my Echo in their driveway for a few hours without any word to them. Something tells me it would result in a hefty towing charge.
For now, I am resigned to leaving bold type-faced letters on people’s windshields, informing them that it is private property, but all I really want is for people to understand the difference between public and private space. Maybe I am asking too much.
I write each post under my full name – does the question of public and private even matter anymore? Is it a line I should think about only in terms of my career and family’s safety? After re-reading my last post, and thinking about it, there is very little anonymity in my blogging anyways.
After many conversations over the last three years about blogging, I am reminded again about the lines between public and private online. This is not a new dilemna. The news is riddled with stories about “private” spaces online; as is an entire section of digital research. But as someone who maintains an online space, the battle between public and private is an ongoing and sometimes seemingly uphill one. I started blogging as an attempt at articulating ideas that were inspired by my undergraduate classes. I was hoping for some sort of public response to what I was thinking – hoping to engage in debates that would further an idea or send me in a different direction.
After about a year of blogging and perhaps a total of 15 comments, my blogging style changed and became a lot more anecdotal, often offering tidbits of my personal life without naming names or specifying locations. But eventually, as bits and pieces of information were divulged, a personal ‘professional’ bio included, my online space had become linked to my personal space. I even had an old friend email me after 12 years, saying that he had read my blog and put all the pieces together to figure out it ‘must’ be me.
What is interesting to me now, three years later, is that I am often torn that I cannot retract what has been put out there. Yes, I can go back and delete my posts. Delete the blog and fold up shop. But somehow, that seems counter-intuitive to what I have done over the years. To what I feel I have accomplished through this space – and maybe I should spend some time trying to articulate exactly what that is. As I spend more time online, as my research and interests meld into my passtimes and hobbies, I am finding the line between public and private content harder to see. What I think is an interesting issue to blog and think about is often tied up in knots with my personal life and other people.
So, what is my solution? To let the blog go? To solely post informative links relating to “work”? What bothers me the most is that even when I am trying to stay ‘professional’ and distanced, what I choose to blog, and who and what I choose to link is as telling in terms of my personal and perhaps private being as it is a proclamation of a very public self.
And identity of course. I am struggling with finding aesthetic peace here at wordpress; not for the lack of options, but rather quite the opposite really. With blogger, I had a limited amount of templates to choose from, and any alterations or personalization was done through the code of the template. Often time consuming, and to be quite honest, I never got it quite right, so I always rested on a pre-designed template.
With WordPress, i have more templates available (and I refuse to go further than the options offered to me directly from my dashboard – as I know there are hundreds of others out there that are compatible…). The personalization of the templates is easier as well, which brings me to my dilemna of aesthetics. As spring is (supposed to be) here, I feel a little heavy sticking with the dark blues and greys that I admire so much against the stark contrast of snow and grey/white sky of winter. I need something lighter, airier (something to contrast the dark wet grey outside my windows lately perhaps – to remind me that spring and summer are really closer than it seems).
So, I found the template I like – but the header image I am not so sure about now. It feels too dark and pixelated for the rest of the aesthetic. I need something light, smooth sharp clean lines, while maintaining somewhat of a contrasting ‘header’ feel. Fingers and keyboard feels a little too cliche especially put together with the title of the blog … but what to put there that would relate the idea of conversation, digitality, exploration, struggles and idle chatter mixed in with wishful thinking and pessimistic ramblings.
So in the spirit of getting on with things, and actually playing games when I actually have the time – I am looking for suggestions. For now, single-player games have priority since I want to start looking at other elements of gameplay and design (outside of social and role interaction) that influences player identity and/or game identification. For now, I think I will stick to the rpg genre, or some form of rpg hybrid. Suggestions welcome =)
Since my formal academic work is complete until I hear word about my fate at Universite de Montreal for the fall session, I have been in a sort of ‘float’ mode. Returning my focus to my family, our new condo (we still have many boxes that need to be unpacked, and the white walls could use some color), and catching up on some reading (I am ACTUALLY reading fiction for the first time in years!) I have been asking myself what is my next step in terms of games.
My entire Undergrad and Graduate research stemmed from my past mmorpg play experience. As writing time surpassed play-time, I became quite disconnected from my object of study – but at least my work was autobiographical, having a good 5 years of intense play to draw upon. But as I re-read my Doctoral Research Proposal (the short version of course), I realize that I have to start playing again – but what, I am not so sure. I am tempted to pick up a new MMO (there are a few that have been released that look like they could be fun), but I know that this isn’t the direction of my research… I am hoping to take what I wrote about EverQuest and other mmorpg’s and see where it stands with other genres and interactive situations. As much as I love the mmo’ genre, I know I have to step outside (my) box, try something new and hope to push my work in a new and hopefully innovative direction,
Thank you to a kind sponsorship by the organizers, I spent today attending sessions at the Spirit of Inquiry conference. Sadly, I missed the welcome and morning key note – which I was told was riveting. Sessions are 1 hour long, with only one presentation – which leaves plenty of time for interaction, which is really what it is all about. Interestingly, most sessions are actually interactive workshops, which made me a bit uncomfortable – since most of the attendees were seasoned teachers. I attended an interesting session today on Narrative Pedagogy (abstract below). This is my first ‘Education’ conference – I decided that if I really do plan on teaching (at the university level) as a career, I should learn about the art of teaching (especially since I am such a mental and physical wreck when I have to talk in front of a group). When it was my turn to “share” I started with my usual disclaimer that I loathe speaking in public, yet am trying to learn to deal with it. The group was incredibly receptive, and I even had several people approach me throughout the day who were in that session, offering to help me work through my fears – fostering connections indeed =)
Critical Inclusion: Fostering Connections through Narrative Pedagogy
KARINA LEONARD, EDUCATIONAL CONSULTANT IN INSTRUCTIONAL DEVELOPMENT, DAWSON COLLEGE
Abstract Although our students come from vastly different backgrounds, we tend to teach them all as we were taught: by lecturing. In doing so, we reinforce students’ sense of disconnection between course content and ‘real life’. In response to traditional pedagogies, narrative pedagogy attempts to personalize content and to create meaningful and pertinent connections between students’ lived experiences and course outcomes. Narrative dagogy implies both method and content. As such, this session offers both new and experienced educators a discussion of narrative pedagogy in the context of exploring our own experiences. Participants will come away from this session with an understanding of how to use student experience to create connections, develop content and further engage students. Participants are encouraged to come prepared to share their experiences and will be asked to engage with the experiences of other participants.
For those who like games and ecomonics. From the website:
The simExchange – (noun) the video game prediction market for forecasting the number of copies games will sell.