The semester has changed at my school which means new blogs going up, old blogs coming down. Yesterday, a creative writing teacher bounded into my office bringing urgent messages from his former students. “You took the blog down,” he said. “You can’t do that.” His students, it seems, had just expected to keep writing and sharing in the class blog even though the course had ended, and they were distressed when it disappeared. “You have to put it back up,” he said.
“Can’t we take our old posts with us?”
“It seems awfully quiet without our other stuff”
“I’m proud of my comments. Do I have to leave them behind?”
“No one will know what who we are and what we’ve done!”
And he connects this with questions that Konrad’s students also struggled with:
As soon as they were able to create their new individual blogs, the first question was:
“What about the old posts?”
The new space, I realized, was not really a blog or a community. It was an empty space and almost all of them were overcome by a need to populate their new blogs. They have been working very hard since but many also insisted on transferring their old entries to the new blogs. Their blogging identity, it seems to me, is so inextricably linked to their writing that abandoning their old work seemed somehow wrong. Many were very disappointed that the comments they received cannot be automatically moved with the posts.
As I struggle with the potential disruption of making a similar move here, it’s striking to me how much different this level of concern is compared to all the paper content we’ve created in the past. If you don’t yet understand the power of all of this, consider taking it away. I don’t think I’ve actually appreciated the depth of my connection to this body of work and thinking and conversation. It’s become such a part of me, “so inextricably linked” that I can’t imagine a complete existence without it. And it’s all about the investment that we make in this, the idea that what we’re writing has a legitimate audience. How different it must be for these students who want to stay connected to the people and the ideas that have nurtured their learning. I say this all the time when I do presentations, but how nice will it be when we finally get rid of the physical (and metaphorical) recycling bins in our hallways where 99% of our students’ content ends up at the end of the year. Given an opportunity to build community around content that we create and care about, it’s simply not as easy to throw it away.