INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Decade Ago
Today I celebrate the tenth anniversary of the launch of this blog. You could definitely be excused for asking: “Why would I celebrate something that’s dead on the vine?” During this decade, only the first half saw any regular activity from this space. I’ve gone the way of legions of the early bloggers (those of us who back then usually had to explain to others what a “blog” was) -- out of steam; a finite and exhausted pool of creativity; too many competing demands for time; loss of interest; the rise of social media replacing the blogosphere as community; laziness; whatever.

However, unlike many of those pioneering souls, I never officially shut this thing down. Perhaps in the back of my mind the thought lingered that I might someday return to this space, despite the enormous changes that have rendered the modern blogosphere a very different animal from its early days -- a period in which I was proud and excited to have participated.

While many of us have faded away, an impressive, indefatigable group of great bloggers from those heady days are still at it, and I salute them -- Weinberger, Searls, Locke, Paynter, Sessum, AKMA, Bennett, Frankonis, Howell, Powers, JoliffeHeibel, BenetCooper, Golby, WoodsWonderchicken, and some others I may have forgotten to mention.  They were constant sources of inspiration to me. I would never have been able to enjoy my brief fling as an early-adopter blogger without their example, and in some flattering cases, personal encouragement.

I suppose the possibility exists that it could be great fun to be back in blogging, although this time around, I would most likely be doing so in obscurity. The chances of its happening are pretty slim. However, just to be able to hang around a little while, I’ve been entertaining the thought that maybe I could celebrate this tenth year with a weekly posting from the past -- selecting something from my archives to post each week throughout the coming year. I could call it “The Best of Insiteview,” but modesty forbids. Who knows -- maybe in the process of hanging around, some new and up-to-date material might emerge? No  promises though.

This will have to be an endeavor for my own pleasure. I hardly expect an audience anymore like the old days. But if anyone should happen to latch onto this, he or she is most welcome to join me in my little stroll down memory lane (pardon the cliché). Your company would be a great pleasure indeed.  

So . . . The obvious place to start is with my very first entry, February 21, 2002.

Here Goes 

I've been fussing around for two weeks trying to start this blog. There's no way to start it except to start it. So here I go. After all, David Weinberger, who's probably my biggest source of inspiration for this undertaking, has as the motto for his blog, "let's just see how it goes," which would suggest that he felt a twinge of doubt when he started out. 

And look how David's turned out! Not that I'm in his league, of course. If mine should turn out to be one-tenth as good as Dr. W's, I would be thrilled. The point is, if you want to start a blog, just start it--and pick up the pieces later. 

I've been fantasizing about putting together the perfect essay for an opening piece. Bullshit! If there's going to be a good piece, it will come when it comes. In the meantime, there's struggling with creating a new self--an expanded self. That's what I've concluded blogging--good blogging--is primarily about. 

Acknowledging Jeneane 
The possibility for creating a new self through blogging was opened up for me by Jeneane Sessum, who is my other primary source of inspiration. She and Dr. Weinberger had an exchange on this, which I presume got opened up when Dr.W asserted that "We are writing ourselves into existence on the Web. Together." This statement has since acquired a touch of renown and cachet--deservedly so--as a lot of blogs have been picking up on it. 

But it was Jeneane--a fabulous writer who goes straight to the soul--who really made it possible for me to see the opportunity for self-expansion that lay ahead if I would take the plunge into serious blogging. She was also incredibly gracious and supportive in responding to my fan email. As was David. Thanks so much guys. 

David's been shepherding a fabulous thread on voice and authenticity, which I won't attempt to recount--but here's a link to one of David's recapitulations. These discussions (is "discussion" the right word? "Blogthreading?" Do we need a new word?) . . . 

Anyway, David and his amazing "threadmates" have precipitated my thinking quite a bit about the subject of inventing the self. "Inventing the self" sounds at first blush like an act of vanity and deception--the antithesis of authenticity. I would assert that inventing the self is a supreme act of personal responsibility. You're either creating it and putting it out there or you're operating at default self--i.e., without authenticity. 

Default self is the sum of all that one has been. We tend to see this as what the self is, and it leaves us locked in to what we were. But true self, in my view, is created as a conscious act of existential will. And that's what I see as the promise of blogging. It feels uncomfortable at this point, but I'd really be down on myself if I didn't take it on. I may experience discomfort, but I sure as hell experience a lot more Aliveness when I'm wrestling with this attempt at self-creation. 

Jeneane has examined this phenomenon with far more clarity and written about it far more movingly than I could. Check her out. "



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