Why are we here?

Because we’re here. roll the bones.

Seriously though, why have a website? Why blog?

In answering this, I am instantly reminded of a lovely passage belonging to Nietzsche (para 93 of the Gay Science):

“But then why do you write?” A: I am not one of those who think with a quill in hand, much less one of those who abandon themselves to their passions right before the open inkwell, sitting on their chair and staring at the paper. I am annoyed and ashamed by all writing; to me writing is nature’s call — to speak of it even in simile is repugnant to me. B: But why, then, do you write? A: Well, my friend, I say this in confidence: until now I have found no other means of getting rid of my thoughts. –B: And why do you want to get rid of them? –A: Why do I want to? Do I want to? I have to. –B: Enough! Enough!

In what could almost be described as an existential crisis, I have been asking myself why/whether to host a personal website for exactly the same amount of time that i have been sitting on iankerr.ca.  I registered the site right around the first bong of the new millennium; it has taken me six years to execute.  When I bought the domain, I had no clue why or what I would use it for. I confess that I mostly did it so that no one else would cybersquat. (I already lost the dot-com to that pesky photographer!).  It comes as no surprise, then, that my plans for a full blown website moved slowly and went through several iterations. Remember back in 2000 how big-a-deal flash was?  One of my former students, Ryan Singh, made me a totally wicked flash-based site with looping iankerr drum fills and lots of pizzazz. It was great to look at (though, as we learned about flash animation in general, not over and over and over again!). But the site had no point.

Inspired by my friend Michael Geist (who basically said: “just do it. its purpose will emerge.”), I eventually clarified my position on a number of items:

  1. Overpopulation.  To carry on from nietzsche, there is already too much warm excrement populating cyberspace. If I was to further proliferate, I had to promise myself that I would not radiate more heat than light!
  2. Audience.  Am I writing for me or other? Even if you get past the idea that people might actually want to read your work – would they *really* want to tune-in to read*my* work on a regular basis? I settled on an answer that worked for me. Iwould build my site with the aim of further engaging my students and for people already interested in my academic research outputs. Up till recently, I have been using Yahoo! groups and my university website, both of which suck big time!  With my own website, I knew I could get rid of all the cheesy advertising, the clunky look and feel, and could promise my visitors a privacy policy that actually worked in their favour.  My site could do a better job delivering-up my immediate goals: teaching pedagogy and access to knowledge. Although I hope to say meaningful stuff from time to time on topics about which I have some expertise or experience or to express things on my mind, I will generally leave it to my pals in the US legal academy to play the pundits.
  3. Tone.  My teaching style is informal but my writing style is (usually) formal. Which should it be for the website? Given my immediate goals, I am opting for an informal tone.
  4. Regularity vs insight.  Too many of the posts that I see online these days read like they are there to fulfill some daily quota. I have decided to post only when I have something meaningful to say. Sure, it risks inattention but I am not doing this to seek attention. (hmm, really?!)

Enough pontificating. its time to get out there and rock, and roll the bones.  So welcome to my site. I hope it serves its purposes.