Back in June, I spent a week exploring “digital literacy” at an institute sponsored by the UNC-Charlotte National Writing Project (NWP) site. My fellow educators and I read and wrote blog posts, dipped our toes into Twitter, and experimented with new forms of composition that blend words with images, animation and sound.
My week of delving into writings and videos in various on-line venues made me painfully aware of how restricted my own interactions with the internet have been in recent years. I visit a very limited number of sites — I come here every day, I check in on Facebook daily, I read a couple of on-line publications (Slate, Salon, my ten free NY Times articles each month, and my local paper), I read one friend’s blog, and I check my email. I also do a lot of mindless clicking around on Yahoo! and Wikipedia. Occasionally I indulge my funny bone with a 1/2 hour of Funny or Die clips.
No one made me limit my on-line readings in this way. I did it myself — without even thinking about it, I settled into a routine of logging onto the internet three to five times a day, clicking on the sites saved on my bookmark bar (sometimes twice….just to see if I’d missed anything in the two minutes since I last checked), reading a few articles, then wrapping it up with a nice Facebook click-fest.
So, I decided it was time to intentionally explore the internets beyond my own bookmark bar.
I read my way through multiple articles and blogs on the NWP’s Digital Is site, a collection of writings about what it means to teach in “our digital, interconnected world.” Through Twitter, I discovered a great collection of blogs by principals (who knew there were so many reflective, thoughtful principals out there!). Curious to see what fellow liberal-leaning Christians might be blogging about, I typed “Episcopal blogs” and “progressive Christian blogs” into Google and discovered that they were blogging about quite a lot — a few of the blogs I discovered through that search have become regular reading: The Episcopal Cafe, At the Edge of the Enclosure, and The High Calling (which sounds like it could be a pretentious horror show, but offers up a great collection of down-to-earth writings about living at the intersection of faith, family, work and culture).
My experiment in wider internet reading has been good for me. First, it’s helping me break my habit of mindlessly clicking on the same few sites and links again and again (and again). Second, the wider reading is getting me to think a bit more, reflect a bit more, question a bit more. Work has been so stressful for the past year that I’ve narrowly focused on my own small set of work/life dilemmas and haven’t been thinking much beyond that. Wider browsing and wider reading is helping me to look up and out a bit more. Finally, reading more is moving me to write more — in my journal, here, and hopefully soon in some other on-line spaces.
Now that I’ve expanded my internet reading a bit, I’d like to continue to draw my circle wider. What are some things you read that I might like? What are your go-to sites? What should I be reading on the internets?