Monday, August 04, 2014

Conversations 10: Changing The Conversation

I wrote this blog for almost ten years now and its purpose has changed. I started to this as 'morning pages', to practise writing to break the 'writer's block', an aim I successfully achieved. Writing a few hundred words every other day has now become habitual, and though I spend little or no time editing - leaving out some errors at times - this has served me well as I eventually started writing for work. By then, though, the purpose of writing the blog had changed. I tried to turn this into my scrapbook of ideas, a sort of recording place as I go through various experiences and learn new things, and I still use this as such. This has also become my way of reaching out to people with similar interests, and I have made some remarkable friends through this blog (and this blog alone, as I have never met them though corresponded regularly). 

It is also interesting to note what I have not done with this blog. During the period I wrote this blog, I 'discovered' my interest in Higher Ed and went on to start a business, living through the full start-up experience, making sacrifices, finding opportunities etc. Some of those activities were reflected on this blog, as I wrote about my travels, my plans and my disappointments. But what I did not do, partly intentionally and partly for lack of resolve, is to turn this blog into a promotional piece for that business. At times, I do wonder whether I should have done so, but found the conscious style that one must adopt while promoting a business severely impeded my joy of writing this. In the end, I wanted to preserve the spontaneity here and choose other mediums for the business promotion.

However, there is another similar challenge that I am up with now. I know this sounds rather naive, but I was always driven by the desire to develop a writing career. This is why I needed to overcome the writer's block in the first place. This is also why I needed to accumulate ideas over a period of time, though, because I pursued multiple interests, there was no disciplined focus for these posts. All I was doing was to make sense of the world, but this blog never became an attempt to canvass commissions or demonstrate capability of any kind.

That I started writing about Higher Education was therefore purely incidental. I got interested in Higher Education, primarily as I saw the gap while traveling around on my recruitment role, and then followed that interest through with formal studies as well as work: The blog merely reflected that drift in my life. I am still at it, but I did not want to become a Higher Education blogger, and wanted to escape the language prison such a categorisation would invariably throw me into. I wanted to be outside, rather than inside, and engage in conversations about change, rather than preservation. And, indeed, professional blogging about a sector would have required a sense of certainty, but my purpose was search - so the pretense was untenable anyway.

However, at this time, I reached a point when certain commitments must be made. As I reported elsewhere, I have given up my teaching commitments, which were taking up a significant amount of my time and kept me tied down to London, and taken on an assignment within a global Higher Ed project. This will require me to travel, a lot perhaps, and hopefully, this will give me time to read and reflect and think more long term about my work and ambitions. This is also the time for me to write more about the things that interest me, none more than the emerging shape of education under the twin forces of Globalisation and Automation. I am expecting this to turn into a deep inflection point in my life, perhaps the starting point of my return journey to India.

At this time, I have little choice but to discipline my interests and focus instead on knowing a few things well. I have set myself up with projects so that I don't lose sight on self-development as life gets busy with travel. My ambition is to study about technology - its history, stories of invention, how it changes society - for the next few months. I am hoping that this will allow me to form educated opinions about what I want to have an educated opinion about - how we should educate the students when societies face such tectonic shifts due to globalisation and automation. As a chronicle of my ongoing interests, it is perhaps best for me to focus my writings on the same subject as well, and learn to create connected narratives rather than discreet posts. I am sure I shall write about my life, travels, experiences, meetings, discoveries, as I always do, but I am in love with this little project and want to do it well.

So, a monotony perhaps for some who signed up for this blog with different interests, but then I never assigned this blog any purpose other than just being an open space to talk things I care about. And, indeed, I said so much about technology without any systematic examination of the subject, and now only intending to do my catch-up. Changing the conversation may not be a departure, but rather a return to my original commitment to make sense of the world.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

Last Words

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- T S Eliot

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