WARNING: Rambling, stream-of-consciousness, thinking-out-loud (hopefully not navel-gazing) ahead! Just trying to start framing some thoughts so I can make sense and move on.
It's one of the weird paradoxes of the last few years for me - I'm much more involved with external (off campus) groups and online communities than I am with local ones. I'm more well-known off-campus than on. I'm more linked to individuals spread around the globe than those at my own institution.
The latest example of this was offered up inadvertently by someone returning from a recent trip abroad, which included a stop in Hong Kong. "D'Arcy, they know you in Hong Kong. They were asking if I know you since we're both from the U of C." (ps., howdy Nick!) Turns out I did vaguely know this person (and he knew me mostly because he walked by my "office" that is newly equipped with a nametag - I basically recognized him as having seen him several times, but struggle to put a name to the face), but the point is - I knew exactly who he was talking about, and could list off some cool stuff that Nick is doing. And I've never been to Hong Kong.
It seems like I've been more involved with projects in BC than in Alberta. In international projects, rather than local.
I've been feeling disconnected from the people who are physically around me, because it is so much easier to connect with likeminded individuals around the world - my global online community of practice. What does that say about the nature of communication and relationships?
I've also had to spend most of the last year or so on Big Projects - large multinational/multi-institutional endeavors that steer like oil tankers. External timelines, external demands, external users. What I think is needed is more time on smaller, nimble, adaptable projects that will make more of a difference in the trenches. I'm lucky in that I think I've been moved/moving in that direction, spending most of the last few months in Drupal and Moodle, thinking about how to integrate them into communities and workflows, rather than building New Applications Just Because Someone Said They Need It.
Stephen's hiatus (whatever the cause) struck a nerve. I've gotten so wrapped up into this online stuff as part of my identity - my sense of self is being partially defined by what I (and others) are doing online. Is that wrong? Is that the way things are moving? It's a bit disturbing. Why am I so comfortable just hanging everything out here? Is it as simple as some freaky narcisistic tendencies? I never thought I'd use that word wrt to myself, but this apparent need for external validation raises the question.
I'm going to have to put some thought into how to continue this in a more healthy way. Not even sure what that means, but something just doesn't feel right. Have to track that down first...