I think everyone who reads this (all three of you) knows that I am far from a luddite, and that I think academic blogs are, generally, a positive development of academic life. Even electronic sunshine can disinfect. However, in my spare moments since the terrible events at Virginia Tech, I've scanned the blogosphere, and have been mostly (and often deeply) disappointed. Even the academic blogosphere is set up to mimic the 24-hour news cycle, and that just doesn't leave room for the kind of reflection and assimilation that an event like this deserves. What you generally find -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- is an entry saying that we should all give some space to mourn, and then another about three hours later commenting on the failures of campus security, the administration, gun control, etc. This extends to multiple sides of the political spectrum, I think. I was so sickened by this
example -- in which the author insinuates that everything from co-ed dorms to the English major were to blame -- that I wanted to write something here.
What I think this blogosphere-out-of-control reminds me is how much I value the parts of our profession that are not driven by the digital revolution: the length of classes, the weeks of the semester, the hours required of reading a novel. The academy may be the last place that recognizes that the intelligence, reflection, and judgment necessary to face the violence of everyday life all require duration
. We are teaching our students a relationship to time itself that is little in demand elsewhere, and that is also being steadily eroded by both the corporatization of the university and the mass culture of digital technology. I think a real challenge for using technology in the classroom is how to use it in such a way to continue, even cultivate, the experience of duration that has been part of the academic tradition.