Writing in public

We live in a time of rising wealth and the things that greater wealth buys access to—like communications, health, and travel. Yet we get distracted by the noise and, ur nature being what it is, “nobody’s happy.”

We don’t generally take advantage of our incredible ability to communicate and to write. Even being able to mass produce paper (rather than handcrafting it), in the course of human history, is still pretty new. Despite paper’s ubiquity, we don’t use it as much as we did in the past. At the same time, despite the internet’s pervasiveness, so much of what we write, share, and post seems to disappear into the ether even more quickly than what our parents or grandparents might’ve written with pen and paper. I’m writing in public simply because I think I have a responsibility to try to make use of the ubiquitous tools of our time and to try to set down in writing and for at least my own personal record, or family’s record, some of what I’m reading, or thinking, or experiencing.

I think about how much I wish I could learn about the day to day lives of my own older family members or ancestors—imagining what they would have blogged about life in a war or on the farm or coming here in the first place. We generally don’t have any of that, and given the platforms we have today, it feels right that we should make an effort to write in public.

I think “writing in public” is also worthwhile as a way to think aloud and share perspective and experience. There’s a lot that gets left unspoken in public. That’s as it should be. But I also think that before most substantive conversations happen in private, things first have to be thought through and brought out a bit and that even informal public writing can serve as a jumping off point for that. That’s also what I’m trying to do here.

I like “Finck’s Coffee House in Munich and I also like Wilhelm Bendz’sA Smoking Party.” Both relate to this idea of “public writing informing private thinking”. Here’s “A Smoking Party”:

A Smoking Party (1828) - Wilhelm Bendz

We need these sort of set-aside places and occasions that can be created for thinking, listening, and talking things through friends, neighbors, and strangers.