Friday, December 01, 2006

blog survivor

So a couple more weblogs have bitten the dust, even since we last talked. To find out what's happening in esl/efl I often go here, where one can see that Dave Sperling is such a big name in the esl/efl web that he actually has an anti-blog, but where one can also see that the esl/efl world is very transient.

But in typical self-indulgence, I'm not here to talk about esl/efl, or Dave Sperling; rather, I've been reflecting on the many functions I have for this weblog, named after yours truly, which is barely read at all, but does a lot of things for me...among them:

-I work hard, teach hard, grade a lot, and make all my own materials. Sometimes I let off steam here. Very few people appreciate the grind of an 18-hour teaching load where people really need what you teach. The stakes are high, the pressure's on, and the chalk dust is flying.

-My professional interests- these days, using weblogs in the intermediate classroom, and plagiarism, which is an ongoing battle. I'd like to make an esl-efl teacher's plagiarism resource on the web, if I get a chance. I often dream here, but don't have much time to actually carry these things out.

-My enormous, and messy, web responsibilities at CESL. I call them messy because they exploded in size but sank in utility after being seriously messed with, and it's so broke I can barely fix it. So huge, it's like looking at a kitchen of dishes, and going out (to the weblog cafe) to eat.

-I direct my classes to thinking about things that I like- our topic this term is media, so I'm leading toward ways that technology is changing the way we live and think - MySpace, Facebook, chat, etc. And as a result- and this has been an ongoing trend- I like to reflect on that here. What is Second Life going to do to the way we see our world? What are these chat dialects doing to the relationship between writing and speaking, and the development of language as we know it? Sometimes I just ask my students what they're up to- (In the coffee line, one was telling me how Arabic English-letter-chat uses 6 to be a kind of accent) - but my point really is that I'd like to become a kind of social commentator, pointing out that the world as we know it is never going back to the old ink-and-tree paradigm...

-the running discussion on Chomsky and language theory gets diverted regularly and sometimes for long periods of time. But it's a long-term project, and one I can't seem to click a couple of hours together to put forward. It's interesting to learn how Chomsky hijacked a field and drove it into a plane, so to speak, but it will take the best of linguistics to pull it back into the third dimension. It's time to get started. My project is here, but it's barely started. Just gathering the materials. The theory is coming.

-my life as a citizen- of the USA, of Illinois, of Jackson County, of Carbondale, of Southern Illinois University, etc. I don't have much time to actually read the paper these days- and now that we get it by mail, it's very sporadic and unpredictable. I'm not sure what I'll do when newspapers like the Tribune actually go out of business or go totally online....I'm still a newsprint kind of guy. But as an ordinary citizen and employee of a major state university I'm an active writer with lots of opinions about the milieu I'm in- if I actually publicized this weblog, it might actually make more of a difference, but the fact is, people still don't read these much. And I do it mostly to develop my own writing, rather than to change the world, since I know full well that I have a better chance of doing that, just staying put, teaching, representing and putting forward internationalism in a self-absorbed place with lots of other political infighting-type concerns. One has to love one's place in one's own way. I have to say, though, it's been good to me and my family. I'm proud to live and work under the big high noon...

That's about it. I'll put all this on the sidebar someday, just so infrequent visitors don't get confused by the dazzling array of subjects I hit in a given week. I have dreams of making either an esl/efl kind of portal- an independent media- or some other kind of professional use of my writing- but, on reflection, the fame of the big-frog-in-small-pond situation that I already have, is more than filling my plate. Sheila Simon's father told her, if you want to run for mayor, go out and have coffee with as many people as you can. I agree with that; I wish I had time for a cup, myself, or at least a better reason for pouring another. It's an interesting world, and this late-night turtle-pond gives me the best view sometimes.

Thank you for your indulgence...



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