The discussion that Rovy and I were having centered around this notion of time. We will always have more to do than we have day to do it in. With that backdrop, perhaps I should be trying to answer the question “When?” — not “Why?”
When will you find the time to blog? Setting up a blog is a 5 minute exercise, but actually WRITING in the blog is a matter of, perhaps, an hour a week. What can you give up?
When will you find the time to read? Many of you have difficulty in dealing with as few as 100 email messages a day. What will you have to give up to spend 20 minutes fiddling with an aggregator? And — worse — how can you possibly find the time it takes to read 5 or 10 thought provoking posts on blogs in a day?
The HOW question is merely one of technology — RSS aggregators and simple interfaces solve the reading and writing connection issues. The issue of WHEN revolves around opportunity cost. What do I have to forego if I do this other thing? These are difficult questions and go back to the notion of identity.
Who am I?
What does the answer to THAT question mean when I operationalize it? If I am who I think I am, what does that mean I am obligated to do. The reality of identity is that it’s not a label, it’s all the things that come together to make me who I am. My name is focuses and identifies me, but only serves as the container for my skills, talents, attitudes, biases, and ideas. My place in the world is defined by how I interact with the world and, for that, I need action. I am, ultimately, what I do.
For me, the answers are neither cut nor dried. They are not static but are modified by the conditions I find about me. Each day I learn more about who I am because each day I find new things to relate and react to. Some characteristics are less mutable (I hope) than others. Some characteristics are being refined and re-defined every day.
I am a professional in the field of educational technology. What I do is deal with the issues, tools, techniques, and application of same as relate to a field that is different today than it was yesterday. I haven’t figured out HOW it is different today yet, but I know that overnight, somehow and perhaps subtly, it changed. One of my primary duties is to attempt to discover where and how so I can begin to formulate a response to that change. I do not expect to succeed, but in the effort I may discover what I failed to learn yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. My definition of “professional” does not extend to actually discovering where and how the world changed overnight — only that I make the attempt to do so every day.
Yes, I have other — more urgent tasks. I have a sick kid that needs care. I have a presentation to give in about an hour. I have bills that need paying and obligations to my employer. Being a professional in the field of educational technology is, perhaps, not the most important of the various characteristics that define me. But the nature of identity is that one can’t really rank the components of identity. It is part of the recipe that is me. Removing one component means I’m not the same husband, or father, or employee, or teacher that I am with it. What I do in each of those areas is governed by my perceptions of the other — the eternal balancing act we face as humans. And perhaps how we balance — the choices we make when between the rock and hardplace — defines identity more than anything.
So, when do *I* do this stuff?
I do it early in the morning and late at night. I sleep very little. My wife complains that I’m never in bed when she is and my kids think I’m a lil wierd. My lawn is always shaggy (or scalped) and my car is filthy. My colleagues here at work know that I’m obsessed and I drive my staff crazy with all the strange notions that I expose them to. I work on things during the day that help me deal with my identity as a professional. I try to keep up with the urgent tasks while not letting them totally block out the important ones. I work at my life about 15-18 hours a day seven days a week. My job only takes up about half of that.
The point is that I had to answer the question of when my own way — in keeping with my identity as a professional. Failing to participate in the community cuts to the core of that identity and cannot be allowed.
So who are you? And when do you do it?