An Initial Blog Encounter (and why we should blog)

Courtesy of the Way Back Machine

Huddled in my college apartment’s bedroom among my four roomates, we click through the female members’ scanned images on http://www.Hot-or-Not.com at a lighting speed of 128kps. Abruptly, one of our female friends bursts into the adolescent male enclave.  Nicole gasps at our audacity to participate in such a degrading pastime.  We retort that our own personal pictures are posted as well receiving the same scrutiny among the other members.  She counters that there are better things to do with the internet than just simply rating each other’s appearance.  [insert crickets here]

Within the next couple of moments and with energetic passion, Nicole slides into the computer seat, takes the controls, and introduces us to a revolutionary form of internet use–a web diary, or web log.  As she navigates triumphantly through her own two or three pages on the web, our male huddle sits silently….waiting, watching, biding our time to…mockingly interject how great it would be to post our private thoughts so others could see them. How  productive?  How innovative..?  

Nicole puffs in exasperation and exits the room.  We resume the import task of giving and receiving ratings.

…..sharing through blogging is not just a high form of internet use; it is a high form of human existence.

humanity

Humanity by D.C.Atty via Flickr

While the internet has dramatically changed since 2002, the same sort of vain activities can be found on the web, just faster and slicker.  With 15 more years added to my belt size, I agree with Nicole now.  My current perspective has emerged from numerous constructive encounters with blogs.  My friend Nicole was right that one cold January evening.  There is a higher purpose to the internet.   Sharing our thoughts and experiences for others to read and interact with is a high form of internet usage.  However, sharing through blogging is not just a high form of internet use; it is a high form of human existence.  

We contribute to a blog, digital space, e-portfolio because we want to enhance our human capacity to establish and share the elements that make up our narrative.  A commitment to these type of constructive contributions may be driven by

  • Inspiration
  • An external task, assignment, reward
  • The need to connect with an audience
  • Reflection and growth
  • Emergence of one’s own ideas
  • Expression of one’s own opinions
  • The need to respond to others’ contributions from various corners of the world

Blogging, and similar contributions, engage individuals in the nonlinear, communal process of essential human endeavors.

cycle

Cyclical adapted from Tom Magliery via Flickr

Finally, contradicting my initial, un-informed reaction to an online diary/web log, blogging is much more than just displaying your intimate details for strangers to read. Blogging, and similar contributions, engage individuals in the nonlinear, communal process of essential human endeavors.  The practice of blogging allows us to

  1. Collect and piece together a personal story or narrative of our life
  2. Observe and reflect upon personal growth in various areas of our life
  3. Incorporate and process what we are learning from others on the web
  4. Use the web as a sounding board for feedback and critiques
  5. Practice new techniques in critical thinking, rhetoric, and presentational skills
  6. Connect with others and contribute to a community and address a real audience.
  7. Remix our previous experience with current ideas, products, and skills
  8. Learn skills and approaches that help us navigate and create digital content.
  9. Contribute our story for others to learn
  10. Pursue, expand, and showcase of our thoughts, ideas, interests, curiosity, and passion.

Feature Image Blogging by Sean McEntee via Flickr

A Tropical Playground: Culture, Rocks, Flower, and Creativity

A Tropical Playground Gift

As I digest ways Seneca’s Stoic philosophy relates to our modern, connective, bustling existence, my daughter, Sophia, and an entourage of friends take an intermission from playing in the park and enter the house. As girlie remarks are offered up amongst the bite-sized gaggle, a few snippets of sense peirce through.

“A gift daddy…” my daughter, Sophia, declares.
“Yes, it is Teacher’s day today” comes a friend’s voice.
“No, not just for daddy but also for mommy. Yes, a gift for both of you” asserts Sophia as if tripping between two essential thoughts.

As the dialogue unfolds, Sophia presents me with a rock, two Asian citric fruits, and two flowers, she declares her gift with a caring eloquence only my daughter exudes in such moments. She’s saying look at this beautiful rock and its accompaniments; I give them to you daddy. Where would you like to place them.

The intermission concludes just as abruptly as it began. Sophia and company dart out to continue playing as I place the assorted bouquet on the table. The randomness of this gift is, in fact, quite revealing. I’ve come to know my daughter as a sweet, caring individual who loves giving her precious, valuable hugs when greeting others. Every hug she gives is special to her because the hug comes from her. And even more telling is the fact that she invests her playful energy into creating a gift for her parents.

A Gift Emerges

As I reflect on this incident, I speculate on how this mundane, fantastic little gift found its way on my table, and in the photo above. In many ways, I see this playground bouquet emerging from basic stages of creativity (basked on John Spencer’s ‘Seven Stages‘).

Stage 1: Exposure
We are constantly inundated with stimuli providing the context and soil for our thoughts and actions. In this case, my daughter’s tropical playground (and the private gardens around it, unfortunately) exude flowers, rocks, and little fruits. All of this is within reach of a 4-year-old’s grasp. The simple act of exploring the playground (her environment) presents a bountiful view full of decorative fodder that her and her friends undoubtedly soak in as they dash between hedges, fountains, and concrete.

Stage 2: Active Consuming
The exposure to this lush playground of decorative fancies infused with a 4-year old’s impulsivity is too much not to explore. My daughter is engaging her surroundings and weaving together her joyous experiences. She picks the flowers, rummages through rock beds, nestles her toes in a playpen of sand, and screams with raucous girliness among her cohorts and friends. She’s finding an affinity for these surroundings that make up the tropical coolness of her day.

examing-nature

Observation source here by Eric Milet

Stage 3: Critical Consuming
True, I doubt the word critical could be rigidly applied to a 4-year old’s thought process; however, an evaluative approach does come into play. I’ve often observed Sophia and her friends combing the rock beds for that perfect, beautiful rock or surveying the hedges for the fullest flower. Most rocks are wanting and get tossed away and flowers can be just as fun to cast aside, but lately, Sophia has absconded with rocks and flowers to display their beauty to others. Not at all something I’ve paid particular attention to until today, but nonetheless, there seems to be sort of personal, or shared, evaluative criteria guiding her and her cohort of friends.

Stage 4: Curating
For the past several months, my daughter has seemingly developed a fondness of decoration, arrangement, and patterns. Stickers are her favorite while decorating various household items, and she takes great pains to ensure the stickers are the appropriate color and size and are aligned (or misaligned) a certain way. This attention to detail displays a sense of organization. An organization she is very eager to share with others. She presents this playground bouquet with contents obviously chosen with the right combination of elements.

Stage 5: Copying
One of the great benefits of being a young child is licence to copy anything and everything you see without any regret (unless of course a peer is complaining that you copied them–and still that doesn’t matter all that much). In fact, copying is essential to a young child’s development and should be encouraged in almost all instances. When you think about it, young children learn language, other forms of expression, and social norms/roles at incredible rates simply by copying others. This particular day was Teacher’s Day, a special Thai Cultural day where Sophia and her friends observed and participated in giving gifts to teachers. Given a child’s tendency to copy and the fact that I’m an educator, it seems only natural for Sophia to give a gift to me, just as she did her teachers during the school day. Furthermore, I’m sure the collaborative discussion among Sophia’s playground peer group is rife with copying each other’s’ proclivities and tastes in floral, fruit, and quarry.

Stage 6: Mashups
Of course copying, while engaging, does not go far enough to produce a sense of accomplishment for my daughter. Simply copying someone else doesn’t automatically lead to a product that’s shared. It was only the repurposed, numerous elements coming together in the context of Teacher’s Day that spurred my daughter to share this wonderful gift.

jobs_sharing

Experience and Sharing source here by Brian Solis

Stage 7: Creating
As Sophia stands with her hands cupped and filled with the decorative arrangement, she is taking a risk. Yes, not a big one since she knows her father is trustworthy and willing to give praise when it is due. And herein lies the crux of creation, she took the time and the risk to finalize her gift and share it with someone. There are many philosophical arguments to be had concerning the point of creation and whether something can have been actually created without being shared (sort of like the tree in the woods). At any rate, putting the care to polish and present her creation, she took a step from remixing various things and made the product officially HER gift to daddy. The product emerges through her experience and is given to me.

The Creative Lesson

This post emerges from me to you via pondering Seneca, curating ideas on creative stages, and a 4-year-old in a tropical playground on Teacher’s Day in Thailand

This is Creation: Weaving together something that has simmered in you over time and sharing it in an expressive unique way. This could be a painting, drawing, song, poem, essay, formal talk/discussion/presentation, video, social media comment, GIF, blog post, etc.

So on this Teacher’s Day (January 11th, 2017), I reflect on how my daughter teaches me about mysteries in life. My daughter’s gift serves as the catalyst for the emergence of these ideas.

Can you find ways these stages of creation influence the products that come from your own experience?

The Highest Form of Internet Use

Feature image via Wikimedia Commons.

Human Advancement and Creation

Throughout evolution and development, every advancement, from cave paintings to enhanced digital reality, has been driven by the human need to connect and express ideas.  These advances emerged from the human desire to pursue:

  • Explore
  • Build and Maintain Relationships
  • Entertainment
  • Ideas
  • Personal/Community growth

Systems and products are developed to enhance and improve people’s daily lives.  Over the course of human history, ideas diffused relatively slowly compared to today’s internet enhanced society.  The internet has exponentially increased the collaborative nature essential to the creative process.  

Internet and Creation

As people share new advancements with others, new ideas and products result in even more creations. With the internet, the act of sharing is one simple click away now; the act of creating is one idea away; the act of collaborating is a few keystrokes away.  From my desk, I can access all the necessary elements that make human attain one of their highest forms of existence. I can create.

How could one use their access to the internet to engage and further their creativity?  These 7 ideas can help people move from just using the web for entertainment to using it in a way that helps them pursue a creative, productive mindset.