Where’s the Poetry?

I’ve read the articles by Laura Pasquini and Bonnie Stewart several times, and I’ve gotten more and more out of each one.  The concept of a digital identity, still, is surprising to me, since I use e-mail a lot but otherwise post just occasionally on other people’s Facebook pages (almost never on my own) and am completely unfamiliar with Instagram and Twitter.  The posts tend to be informal, though within limits, and I almost always edit e-mail I send out, so it’s not stylistically rough, and it varies from “official” sounding to casual, just as in conversations face-to-face or over the phone.  I have to say that what’s been striking to me, as I’ve started learning a lot more about tools for online teaching, is the proliferation of language that makes me ask, “But where’s the poetry?”  Tweets, blogs, channels, Slack, platforms, Moodle (which I’ve learned is an example of a Learning Management System), etc.:  all these words come across as very prosy, unevocative, simultaneously plain and mystifying, even when they’re metaphors (as in the case of “platform,” for instance – but what does this platform rest on?).  Yet there’s a fascinating difference between these odd labels and the witty, even imaginative material that can be created for them.  So Bonnie Stewart writes a “blog” (a hybrid of a bog and a log??) but with verve and with a definite voice: 

Here, you can be anybody. But you have to cobble that self together from the nearly infinite contexts and selves reflected back at you by the disco ball of the blank screen.

That image of the blank screen as a reflecting disco ball is intelligent and thought-provoking, and moves towards being a moment of poetry.  So one question I hope the next several weeks will help answer is this: “Is there something about a digital presence that can release a person’s imagination in a special or distinctive way?”

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