Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I'm proud of the way that my own museum works on embeddedness. For us, it means showing up at other people's events. Supporting organizations and community projects that are extended family to our own goals. Partnering, everywhere. Joining a long list of people and organizations working together to build a stronger community.
But today I want to acknowledge the loss that comes with being embedded. The loss of distinct space. Of voice. Of importance.
This loss is real, and I'm feeling in it another sphere of my professional life: this blog.
I've always treated blogging as a learning practice. I learn twice; once in the writing, and once in the reading and engaging with commenters.
In the past three years, the number of comments on this blog has declined significantly. Readership is up. Comments are down. What used to be a lively online discussion--with some posts garnering over 50 comments--is now fairly sedate.
People are still engaging with these posts--they just aren't doing it on this website like they used to. When I talk to colleagues, I hear they are using Museum 2.0 posts for all kinds of things: office discussion groups, Facebook debates, grad school homework. In its own small way, Museum 2.0 is "embedded" in many platforms and mediums.
Problem is, I'm only part of a tiny fraction of those conversations. I'm learning less. I feel more lonely in my writing. It makes it harder to keep it up.
This "problem" disproportionately impacts only one of this blog's thousands of users: me. For me, this content being embedded across different platforms and conversations is lovely in the abstract but frustrating in the day-to-day. I used to feel like a party host with really amazing guests. Now I feel like a street performer. I'm part of a bigger city. I supply some content but only get to talk with a few gadflies who stick close to the show (of whom I am very appreciative). One of my greatest blogging-related joys is when someone shares a blog post with a colleague and accidentally hits "reply" instead of "forward"--thus letting me in on their conversation.
This is what it means to be embedded. To not be the center of attention. To be used by someone else, somewhere else, without notification or participation. To be more important, but to feel less important.
I absolutely believe that being embedded makes us stronger and more resilient. But it also means less control of space. Less people coming to our party. More time blowing up balloons and giving them away. Wondering--rarely knowing--where they will land.