If there’d only been one “click moment,” I’d be set! I conceived of using a weblog as an attempt to produce an interface between face-to-face and computer-mediated communication. My experience teaching online had alerted me to the fact that the conditions of cyberspace enabled thoughtful, more evenly participatory group discourse about the topic at hand. I was enthusiastic &emdash; full of inspiration! &emdash; and unprepared for the contingencies of a (voluntary) public online space created for an already established (not anonymous) face-to-face group. I openly identified my desire to analyze our discourse in the blog as a means of tracking stages of group development. I was (narcissistically?) surprised, then, when others weren’t as enthusiastic as me (hello!); moreso when there were indications of resistance (especially after everyone had given consent). Funny how I knew, intellectually, that all kinds of things “go on” beneath the surface of what people say, but was (am still?) unable to apply it when my own ambition is at stake!
My professor was blase:
“The blog was not (intentionally) constructed by you&emdash;you are part of the surveillance as both subject and object. You have inserted yourself as a type of mediator/interpreter of the discourse.”
Yes, I had set myself up to be watched doing the work of watching (Andrejevic, M. (2002). The work of being watched: Interactive media and the exploitation of self-disclosure.) And others were not so happy about being watched! I persisted, made a presentation, wrote a paper, the course concluded. But I was hooked. Since, I’ve encountered a range of forms of social censure. I understand that when I continue to blog in the face of this, my choice can feel aggressive. Maybe it is? I am definitely resisting conformity to a widespread social code that seems (to me) to structure a kind of permission for ignoring/avoiding the implications of knowledge at the level of (our very human) social interaction.
Yet, I persist because it is my consciousness, my intrasubjective phenomenological development, that is most on display. I exploit myself. Others come and go, leaving a mark or not. I wish to preserve the marks that mattered to me when they occurred, for good or ill. I always hope to be joined by others similarly inclined. The first click moment, then, was my response after reeling from the real-life implications of doing public work (Sunday, October 27, 2002; the first parts of this blog have somehow been lost). Subsequent click moments occur when I face, for whatever imminent reasons, the fear of incurring social penalties for whatever I expose by writing here. The risk or threat of being accused of intentionally producing public data for the purposes of exploitation is always going to accompany this site. Should this prevent or inhibit my doing so?