Over the years I have launched and let languish several personal websites.
Often I got these cyberspace ventures going because I wanted to be with the times and because they facilitated my penchant for procrastination. I also sipped the Kool-Aid from time to time that relevant, community-connected academics should also be bloggers. More recently, I have come to a more nuanced view of what it means to be an academic with some kind of “web presence.”
The internet is an incredibly powerful way to share my ideas and my work. I decided to start an account over on Academia.edu, and I’ve been surprised by how many views my papers have gotten. Since I am still trying to get over my self-promotion inhibitions, making a commitment to sharing my work beyond my family, friends, and classrooms is sort of a big deal. The kind of “self-publishing” the internet makes possible is a good icebreaker for me, and through the broken ice, my current website is pouring through. I want my web presence to be a glass of cool (if not room temperature) water.
The internet is also an incredibly powerful abyss into which my time gets sucked. Several years ago when Goshen College, where I completed my BA and worked for a while, was under fire on Facebook, I followed a leading I had to enter the fray both because I wanted defend my alma mater and because I wanted to raise the level of discourse from mouthing off to something more civil and reasonable. That leading has resurfaced from time to time and each time, I have ended up spending a lot of time writing posts and messages, reading them, and responding to them. Sometimes it’s a deeply satisfying process; sometimes it’s not. On those days when it’s not, I feel like I have come into contact to the one of the ways evil possesses and lives on the energy of the internet — seriously. So bringing my website back to life is also an act of resistance: in the face of evil, I want to create a web presence that stands for goodness and light and kindness and humility.
So here’s to a resurrected website!