This blog is starting to take shape now that I’ve engaged the help of friends to transfer the content from its previous home at aula.cc/jyri here to zengestrom.com. I decided to set up a new home for my stuff when I began moving the Aula site in its entirety from our old custom-built PHP platform to MovableType. That migration is still not finished; so much material has accumulated at aula.cc over the years that sorting it all out takes time.
A few words about this new zengestrom blog: I wanted to have a personal and friendly, down-to-earth sort of blog space. That was how I briefed Mikko Hyppönen, my graphic designer friend. His design makes use of a sketched portrait, which is from the pen of Nene Tsuboi.
I’m quite excited about the result. Yet here I am refurbishing a very infrequently updated blog in good faith while the reality is that my waking hours (and I suspect a good slice of my sleep too) are spent processing a wholly different set of narratives that should materalize not as a blog, but as a PhD thesis. What’s up with that? Even William Gibson suspended his blogging when it was time to do serious writing. In the ‘last postcard from Costa Del Blog‘ he wrote:
I’ve found blogging to be a low-impact activity, mildly narcotic and mostly quite convivial, but the thing I’ve most enjoyed about it is how it never fails to underline the fact that if I’m doing this I’m definitely not writing a novel – that is, if I’m still blogging, I’m definitely still on vacation.
On the other hand, there are authors who claim they could not write without a blog. In My Blog, My Outboard Brain Cory Doctorow maintains that
Being deprived of my blog right now would be akin to suffering extensive brain-damage. Huge swaths of acquired knowledge would simply vanish … my blog frees me up from having to remember the minutae of my life, storing it for me in handy and contextual form.
How to locate oneself in relation to these professional scifi dudes? In my case, the nature of academic writing has proven to be quite blog-averse. My research is about the work practices of real people in a corporation, often covering them to a degree of detail that is quite intimate. Although this ethnographic material is in digital format, it is not online; I’ve spent over two years collecting it in in the form of field notes, recordings, transcripts, photos and video clips, and cataloguing it into a searchable ‘outboard brain’ on my PowerBook. The reworking and eventual publishing of this material requires care and also a degree of anonymising. Alongside this I also occasionally give talks about the social aspects of technology, which sometimes make for good blogging. But I haven’t blogged about them much either. I suspect the silence has to do with a personal migration of a sort: I feel like I’m drifting into new space, but I don’t yet quite know what kind of stories live there. Recently I’ve noticed that a couple of my peers are experiencing similar drifiting. Maybe it’s a sign of the times.