Blog? What the hell is a blog?

I was first introduced to the term “blog” about two years ago. A colleague of mine was taking a course on new technologies in the field of education, and I asked him what had impressed him the most up to that point in time. We told me he was impressed with the power of the “blog”.

“Blog?”, I replied, “What the hell is a blog?”

“It’s short for web-log”, he replied, “think of it as an electronic, personal diary. Or a medium through which you can provide your own commentary.”

Confession number 1: I was disappointed with the answer. I had hoped that this would be a medium through which educators, and only educators, could transmit information to students from all walks of life. Instead, I thought to myself, “Great, all we need is another forum through which any blow-hard know it all can express his opinion and beliefs with the rest of the world. If Tom Cruise didn’t have Oprah and the Today show to show off how little he really knows about mental illness, he would certainly have a blog! Aren’t we already over-exposed to experts and people who think they know it all, but are really just nuisances ot those of us who really. Do know it all? Who would read this stuff?

Confession number 2: I felt tickled-pink when I was asked by the Douglas communication folk to try my hand at blogging. someone thinks that my voice is worth listening to. So I went home and, over supper, told my 18-year-old son that I would soon join that “select” group defined as bloggers. His non-chalant (and yet perceptive) reply, put me in my place:

“Cool, Dad, but why you?”

Confession number 3: I can think of at least 50 of my colleagues at the Douglas or at McGill who are far more brilliant, perceptive, inspiring, photogenic (hey, that picture above is not the real me: I was intimidated to try to look “happy”, which explains the goofy, coat-hanger smile). So, why me, indeed?

Confession number 4: One of my passions in life is getting people enthused about the things that I am enthusiastic about. Call it hubris, call it egocentric, call it what you will, but there is nothing more pleasing to me then when I see that sparkle in a student’s eyes during a lecture. That sign that they are thinking and analyzing, pursuing the implications, and realizing the potential uses and benefits of the knowledge. Sometimes that sparkle is followed by a smile (not a coat-hanger smile, but a smile of pure joy that comes through understanding), and sometimes it is even accompanired by by an “oooohhh….” or an “aha!”. Whatever form it comes in, it makes me feel worthwhile and whole.

So, why a blog? I know that I won’t be able to see any real sparkles or smiles, hear any oooh and ahhs, from your side of the world-wide-web, blogging is not the same as lecturing. But sparkles and smiles are really just one form of communication; questions and commentary, discussion and dialog are possible through the blog. And if I receive feedback in this format, well then, in my mind’s eye, that constitutes a “virtual” smile.

Confession number 5: I hope everyone agrees with every word that appears on this site, and I hope that everyone disagrees with every word that appears on ths site. Now, how’s that for consistency? For me, dialog and discussion occur when there is an honest exhange of ideas and opinion. So, as much as I hope and think that I am right, I am not so pompopus as to think that there are other ways (equally valid and useful) of examining a question. Greater minds then mine have pursued the question of the influence of heredity vs. environment on normal and not-so normal mental development. There have been, and still are, some pretty sharp intellects out there who argue that we don’t need to look at the brain in order to understand mental illness. Some of these folks have even claimed there is no such thing as mental illness. Many brilliant and perceptive people have endorsed the idea that biology is destiny. I happen not to be one of them, but I think it would not be in my best interest to ignore the possibility.

So, what I hope to do in this blog is to intiate discussion and debate. I don’t want to pontificate; but I know that I probably will. so, be forewarned! But, whether we agree or disagree, the point is that we have a mechanism that can encourage us think about issues in ways that we may not have done in the past.

And maybe, after all, that’s really what a blog is…

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Posted on 12 Oct 2007

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One comment to Blog? What the hell is a blog?

  1. Cristina Favreau
    On Jan 29th 2008 at 12:45

    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. It’s great to meet another fellow Montrealer on the blogsphere. Consider this comment proof of a “virtual smile”!
    I really like confession #4: “One of my passions in life is getting people enthused about the things that I am enthusiastic about.”
    With this goal in mind you are sure to have a successful blog.