Tuesday, January 12, 2010

you, william carlos williams!

I've challenged myself to write a little something each day. Something, that is, in addition to the mountains of e-mail, newsletter articles, press releases, instructions, etc. I churn out in my life as a community volunteer.

This blog is the notebook where I'm writing and keeping my bits of consciously written ephemera. It's great to be able to go back and edit the pieces, but I'm going to try not to be too compulsive about this process -- getting rid of the occasional ambiguity should be enough. Better to move on and make the next day's piece more carefully, clearly, and quickly crafted.

Poet and physician William Carlos Williams (1883-1948) is my model for the 'piece-a-day' regimen. How would he have used a blog? It's fascinating to ponder this question, and tempting to try to answer it. But I don't believe in hypothesizing about how someone's art or craft could have been different or better. It is what it is. Our task is to understand and appreciate.

I am fascinated by the processes of writing and of keeping track of one's writing. (Hey, the template I'm using for this blog is called Scribe!) Having had a computer meltdown last summer, I've realized a bit too late that the Internet may be a more permanent storage and retrieval medium than a poorly-managed hard disk.

John Locke (1632-1704) is well known for many reasons but, IMHO, not well enough known for his Method of Keeping a Commonplace Book, which I stumbled onto in grad school while doing research on 17th-century philosophical roots of computer science. That was more than 30 years ago, and in the interim I have used Locke's method to keep track of many hard-copy texts, and bits of texts.

Today the "labels" function of tools such as Delicious.com and Google Blogger can accomplish Locke's organizational feat instantly, effortlessly, and totally without cost to the user. Brave new world, eh?
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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License