In a grant writing class a few days ago, we were supposed to be exploring online resources. The seed list that the instructor came up with was rather scant, so I had to suggest that we visit the bordello. The cries of shock and amazement filled the room. I recommended the site with only slight reservations; I suspected some more prudish people might take offense. However, all things being equal, the proprietor of the establishment has amassed a significant array of philanthropy links. I felt it was worth the potential for discomfort among the potluck/church social crowd.

And then I heard the question—“What is a blog?”

The groan from deep inside was hard to suppress. But then I realized, that not everyone is comfortable in a bar, or even in a crowd on the street for that matter. No one realizes that not everything in a wild discussion pertains to them. And yet, with some careful eavesdropping, there is much to be learned. I pointed the classroom at Jill’s definition, because it is the most concise statement on the matter I know of.

I suddenly became nostalgic for the time (years ago) when Jill briefly noticed me. I was listed on her compilation of “academic blogs” though she had no idea what my discipline was. Of course, the quick answer to than is that I have no discipline at all—this fact should be relatively apparent to anyone who has read my blog for any length of time. I have no interest at all in the whole S&M thing. However, lacking a constant stream of thematic posts, or a clear statement of purpose—to which my only response would be a single Spanish verb, derivar, it remains difficult to stifle the urge to constantly “introduce” myself.

But then, it dawned on me that we don’t often introduce ourselves to people on the street (or in a bar for that matter, unless there is something we’re looking for). For people who have only used the Internet to look up places to buy a widget, or to find papers to steal for class, the whole idea of jumping into a pond full of “citizens gone wild” is more than a little intimidating. Blog presences are derivarse. The Spanish verb carries with it a connotation of drift, not just strict derivation. This space is a means to productively manage that drift, for me at least.

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