Earlier this week, the brilliant design team at FlyWheel sent me a mockup draft of my new author's website. I opened the email and was appalled: there was just so much of me. There was so much face.
Now, to anyone who reads my regular Cat in the Stack postings or my Facebook updates or my books and articles and op ed pieces, it will seem strange that I was freaked to see so much of me. And, of course, that contradiction stirred my blogging neuron and I realized it would be interesting to think about Who Am I? What is the "blogging I"? I used to think blogging itself was a genre. I've given the Durham Herald Sun, our local newspaper, permission to reprint my blogs as op ed pieces and I'm always struck how, in the context of a community newspaper, the blogs often read quite differently than they do within the context of the "stack"---the whole network of networks that is defined by HASTAC and that shares at least an interest in thinking critically and creatively with and about new media. A blog is not a newspaper. End of story.
But that's not the end. A blog is also not a blog. Looking at my Author Blog, I realized that, just as one assumes a certain point of view to tell a story in a memoir, in a blog one also assumes a certain public projection of one's private self. When I blog here, that public projection--even in my sillier moments--is still framed by HASTAC's community and mission. As any ethnographer knows, context is all, culture is all, and, Cat in the Stack (even when she's borrowing my picture), lives within the culture of the 'Stack and HASTAC.
But this other Cathy Davidson in the author blog? Who is she? In her photo, she looks like me (on a really good day--the photograph is by the amazing Chris Hildreth at Duke and he always makes us look our best). She has written other books that resemble mine. But in this photo that looks, whimsically, winkingly, at the audience, she seems one step closer than in this blog (which, in fact, is quite far removed, in tone, in framing, in context: we could analyze this genre any way we want, but I would say, as a generalization, a posting to a professional blog like this bears the same relationship to "me" as a writer as my professorial persona bears to me as a person). But the whole point of an author blog is to connect with readers. Not project. Not think out loud together. Not inform. Not work together towards some answer to a persistent problem. Connect.
How do you write the public language of connection? Soon, I'll be blogging here, on www.hastac.org, and I'll be blogging over on DML Central. And I will be on my author blog too. That's a lot of selves to juggle every morning. It's challenging. It's confusing . . . and (caveat emptor!) the subject, I'm sure, of many future blog posts too.