I own things.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.
More interesting still is the fact that Internet users often attempt to distill articles into a single block quote. I am guilty of it, even very recently, but that type of gross over-simplification doesn’t work for book-length articles about someone’s struggle to achieve asylum. I have been hard at work trying to solve that particular quandary for myself in the way I share things here. Though I haven’t yet solved it fully, you have to launch some time.
What feels like a lifetime ago, I wrote about how I stopped reading in favor of collecting because everything to-read had turned into to-be-read, something for a future date of consumption, when I had more time or more interest or ironically less to read. Life is funny that way; you put in the bookmark and priorities shift, books pile up, excuses abound. But I have spent time reading through that to-be-read list. Last year, I stopped adding to the list and tried to be more intentional about my reading habits. I culled my Instapaper queue to a few hundred old articles that still carried some interest, potentially even stood the test of time; I started consistently reading books again; and I decided that sharing the information I gathered was more important than ever.
Your reading is only as good as your sharing; that sentiment is what inevitably brought me back to writing. Engineered Eloquence was built around the thinking that my thoughts were unique, that my writing could bring to light something of value. While I think that was and is still true, my reading has lead me to believe that there are just as many unique and important voices out there that require our attention that don’t get enough space.
Whether from underrepresented communities, forgotten sources, or oft-ignored ideologies, I believe sharing is the most subversive act a discerning reader can employ. Those who don’t know their history are tragically doomed to repeat it. In the same way, those who read everything and share none of their gained knowledge are the same as those who read nothing at all.
So, with a new subheading (Read, Think, Share, Repeat), a new look, and a new way of thinking about the site, I intend to spend more of my energy as I read, thinking critically about the content and sharing with abandon.
After all, I am a socialist who works in libraries and just as I prefer to share my wealth to the benefit of all, I believe that sharing is a natural outcome of reading. Try to keep up.
I own things.