Sunday, May 15, 2011

In the Aftermath of Pseudonymity (a longish post)

I've returned from Kalamazoo. I am probably the medievalist blogger who said least about this annual event, mainly because I was too busy, both before and during. But let me cover that quickly before I get to my main point. The conference was a good for me, for these reasons:
  • I saw a number of friends who I only see once a year, if that
  • The panel I organized went fairly well
  • My book sold out of all its display copies
  • The book also got a totally unexpected shout-out at a panel I was in the audience for
  • I spoke to FabEd about my next book project(s) and he seemed interested (albeit cautiously, as is his way)
So, all is well on that front.

Now, on to the topic of the post. It appears that my identity is about the worst-kept secret in pseudonymous blogland. I've suspected this for a while, but now I'm sure, and this presents me with an opportunity to rethink the way I experience my own pseudo-self, and the way I present that to the world. Not worrying about maintaining a not-very-secret identity** frees me up to do a few things. For example, I can post some photos that I've been holding back because I think they might give clues to my identity. I can talk more concretely about the research and my travels if I want to. I don't have to be cagey about some things.

On the other hand, I should probably talk a little less freely about some work-related aspects of my life. I think that's not such a bad thing, and not just for reasons of discretion. Really, the problem is that the same old bitch and moan makes for boring blogging. Plus, I've realized that blogging these things may be reinforcing my own negative mood of late. So a content shift is long overdue.

But to what? Well, if you've had a face-to-face conversation with me recently, you know that one of the things I've been talking a lot about lately is setting boundaries, reserving a space for things in my life besides work. This is harder than you might think. I work, and when I'm not working, I'm thinking about work, or – yes – blogging about work.

So this post, a couple of weeks short of my fourth blogiversary, marks me thinking about how making some subtle changes in the content of my blog might be a good way to help me think about who I am other than Professor Notorious. Imagine a closed shape of some kind – a circle or a blobby trapezoid or something. Inside, my work life. The increasingly tiny area outside, everything else. I'd like this blog, in addition to its other functions, to become a tool to help me explore the possibilities of a life outside the lines.

More precisely: I'll continue to talk about my research and writing, because that's a part of my creative identity that's pretty important. And yes, ADM and I will be running that online writing group. But also, expect a more personal blog: more photos, more yoga talk, more nieces and nephews. More of an attempt to focus on the positive things in my life, and to make space for the ones that don't yet exist. This probably means fewer posts, and perhaps less generally relevant ones. But I did start this blog for myself, and this is the next part of what I need to be doing. Feel free to come along for the ride if you want.

And for those who don't: no offense taken, and thanks so much for having been a part of the trip thus far.

** I'm going to keep the pseudonym, though, because I like it, and because a fellow blogger at the 'zoo told me that my made-up names for people and places were his favorite part of the blog. I like them, too.


Belle said...

I'm sticking with ya! And I love the photo - colors, textures, detail... great.

clio's disciple said...

Re. your first remark: Oh, nonsense. I'm sure I've said less about Kalamazoo on my blog than you have. :)

J. Otto Pohl said...

Except for being part of schtick I do not see the advantage of using a pseudonym. Keeping one's identity truly secret is probably impossible. You should not be writing things on a blog you would not want associated with your name. So I am not sure if your identity being known by all your readers, but me makes any difference.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Belle: Thanks! A friend of mine took that a few days after last year's k'zoo, when we were on photo safari in Ohio.

@ CD: You're absolutely right: I stand corrected. ;-)

@ Otto: I continue with it primarily because it amuses me. I think the plan going forward is to try to do more things for that reason alone.

Curt Emanuel said...

It was great meeting you this week - and your blog kicks butt!

As for anonymity thing, I always figured that was someone's choice for whatever reasons he or she has and it's never bothered me or influenced whether I read them. Was nice to put a face to the "un-name" though.

squadratomagico said...

Looking forward to the new Notorious chronicles!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

But also, expect a more personal blog: more photos, more yoga talk, more nieces and nephews. More of an attempt to focus on the positive things in my life, and to make space for the ones that don't yet exist.

Like CHEESE!!!11!!11ELEVBBYTW@@@22@@@11111111!!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

What an excellent idea, Comrade! Perhaps an entire Week of Cheese -- Blagristan produces some lovely raw milk cheeses.

PhysioProf said...


[c] @ penbrushneedle said...

Er, I'm afraid the market for cheese blogs is already rather saturated:
10 Best Cheese Blogs

Or, if you prefer the foreign language edition, there's also: Mundoquesos

That said, I'll definitely keep following** you even if your blog takes a slightly different direction from now on - as the philosopher Jagger once said, "It's the singer not the song"... And I'm really looking forward to seeing more of your great photos in the future :-)

** That's probably going to be "following" as in "lurking without commenting", though, as I have already been doing for quite a while now...

Dr. Koshary said...

Duly noted. I'm happy to keep reading your blog in any case, because I can say with great certainty that I have no idea who the hell you are IRL. :D I think I know exactly three medievalists, and none of them has even graduated yet.

Pseudonymity may yet serve a purpose for you, despite all your colleagues apparently being clued in. It may be -- a little optimistic, I grant you -- that the few people who might take issue with whatever you say here don't go searching for your name besides the occasional Google search. Even elementary internet stalking is more trouble than it's worth to most grumbly colleagues.

P.S. Nice picture!

Susan said...

Looking forward to the yoga, nieces and nephews...
And the pseudonym allows this to be a bit separate from your RL identity.

Anonymous said...

... my made-up names for people and places were his favorite part of the blog...

Although only very narrowly in front of the photos and the social conscience cleverly expressed, I assure you.

Good luck with the space outside the blob. I have rather given up on mine for the time being, I shall watch you for hints and advice (so in that respect, little will have changed).

Anonymous said...

I'm sticking (I don't usually say anything but I like to read). :) And I look forward to future directions.