Paper never gets the chance to solidify

I’m down with the essentially anonymous character of wiki co-construction — it may not be a requirement, but it is somehow emblematic of “the wiki way”, whatever the hell that might be…

But sometimes I wish people would sign their contributions. Like this reflection somebody just posted on our space, entitled WhyWiki:

Why Wiki?

I like writing. But sometimes, a la Peter DeVries, I can’t stand the paperwork. After a few hours of writing, I start to notice the fibre of the paper and remember that once upon a time, the page was a nothing but solid, living wood. Then my pen gets heavy, as if stuck in sap, carving gnarled, knotted language into an uncooperative medium. The page transforms into one gigantic block, though not the kind of block used for building houses for stuffed animals or castles for imaginary friends. It’s not a fun block, writer’s block, because it lets you build only by its absence, never by its presence.

Word processors don’t make a difference. Don’t believe me? Try ’em. You will. The problem with word processors is that they are simply paper projected onto a screen. When we type a Word document, it is usually with the intention of printing it onto paper at some point. The Block gets in there, scans itself, downloads your document. E-Blocks. Watch out. Carving words into a screen is only slightly easier than carving them in blood on your arm.

So I wiki. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Sure, people might read it, but it is electronic, unreliable, ethereal. It is something I don’t entirely understand. But what I like, what I really enjoy about wiki writing, is that paper never gets the chance to solidify against me.

All I know is that the contributor(s) used a wireless connection here on campus. Come out, come out, wherever you are! I’ll pelt you with praise and flower petals.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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