PatternWhichConnects started off as a pretty big idea for a virtual library of sorts and very few skills to realise it. For a long time I struggled with finding time to maintain and update it, and eventually it became a bit of a schizophrenic site, with a WordPress blog module and the rest of the site built in iWeb, which I’m now mainly keeping as an archive. But I learnt lots from it. The content of this site – including the various writings, songs, photos and links – would never have come out in the way it did without a virtual platform. Experimenting with WordPress was very helpful for setting up other sites. And I (unknowingly) further developed my approach to research (both online and offline) through building and using that platform.
What I found was that the website supported and shaped my research and writing – and vice versa. A lot of the insights I came to wouldn’t have been possible without a virtual forum. At the same time, the site itself began to inform how I was seeing things. During my field research it was really helpful to have a (partly imagined) audience for working through my experience and findings. And this in turn began to affect how I wrote. The connections I made through having a blog and reading other people’s posts became invaluable for making sense both of my research and my personal life. It was like a larger conversation that I could see my work within, one that supported and challenged me in important ways.
That is the real power of the internet to me. Unfortunately, the net is also like a highly addictive drug which, if abused, will steal away one’s focus and attention. Being online supported me through a really important stage of me life – and continues to do so – but it is also becoming clear to me that refiguring things requires that I spend more time in my immediate surroundings and redefine my relationship with the internet.
Managing virtual life and online technologies is a life skill which we don’t really have anywhere to go to to learn. The dominant forms of online life involve alienating technologies and signing away our privacy. Social media platforms still seem like isolated islands which compete for our time and attention. And yet there seems to be this moment where the connections and possibilities offered virtually have real transformative potential. Although this is a time where fewer and fewer of the promises held out by modernity and progress are available it seems that new opportunities for challenging and re-thinking the fundamentals are emerging.
That’s what I’ve experienced through being online: finding spaces where a different kind of story is emerging, opportunities for sharing perspectives, seeds for collaboration and a chance to rethink my own way of seeing and doing things. I’ve shared many of those experiences along the way and you can find many of the trails on this site.
I never really had a clear idea of where I was going with my online presence, and that’s probably why I ended up struggling with PatternWhichConnects in it’s iWeb form. But what did seem to work was letting go if my initial ideas, not trying to control things too much and letting it develop spontaneously and serendipitously. It was quite surprising how that online platform brought me into contact with others who were willing to share part of their own lives with me, giving me a sense of direction through affirmation, reciprocity and sharing. In hindsight, it seems like I stumbled into some of the basic ingredients of emergence.
PatternWhichConnects has become an archive of this stumbling. I use it as an occassional blog where I publish occasional musings and indignations. If you have any questions or want to talk further about some of the things this website touches on, just get in touch. Many thanks for reading.