PLN? What’s that?
“Personal learning network,” you say.
Well, OK, but it feels a bit like saying that my legs are my personal locomotion appendages. They ARE that, of course, but the locution is off-putting and I’m not sure what’s gained by it.
But then I’m likely in a somewhat different situation from most of the people hanging out in this Connected Courses floating seminar. Though I once had a university post, that was long ago, before the web, though not before the Internet. I’m an independent scholar, not completely by choice, but the independence means more than that I’m not on a faculty somewhere. I also means that I’m free to go boldly where none have gone before and THAT, as much as anything, is probably why I’m not on a faculty somewhere.
In any event, the emergence of the web afforded me an intellectual life I thought I’d never have. Mind you, it’s still far from ideal, but I can meet people and get the word out and do so more effectively than I could from within the academy.
I’ve already written two longish posts about my online publishing activities, so I’ll try not to repeat much of that here. Publishing is a way of participating in an intellectual community or communities and the online environment has made that easier, more varied, and more fluid.
My first venture onto the web happened in the 1990s when I hooked up with Bill Berry to work on an online community initially called Meanderings, after an occasional newsletter Bill wrote, and then called Gravity. We decided “new savanna” would make a good domain name, as humankind got started on the savannas of Africa and now cyberspace represented a new savanna. Bill has retained the name, the remains of our work still exist there, and I’ve used the name as the name of my blog, New Savanna (which is where we are now). That’s the center of my online world and has been for the last several years. That name thus represents real continuity in my online activities, a philosophical and personal continuity.
Gravity was conceived as a hangout for people interested in African-American culture. We published monthly articles by members of the community, did collaborative coverage of the O. J. Simpson trial with Vibe Magazine, and had an interactive discussion area that Bill coded up. The venture lasted two years before Bill had to go back to work. I see him around on Facebook (FB) and have kept in touch with other members of that community in various venues.