Davies Forum: Ivan Chew comes to USF

Last Thursday the featured Davies Forum speaker was Ivan Chew, a liblogarian from Singapore. He gave a very interesting talk on blogs, why librarians especially should get involved in blogging, and how blogs evolved in Singapore.

Ivan Chew

All of his points were interesting (there was so much information packed into his talk!), and you can find links to his slideshow here. In addition to being very substantive, Ivan's powerpoint presentation was one of the best I have seen in ages. It viewed very much like a movie, and as such was visually engaging in a way that added to, rather than distracted from, his speech. But on to the content of the talk...

The piece I liked best about Ivan's talk was his insistence that we blog because it creates a historical record. He made the point that wars might be fewer and farther between if only we could readily access the collective memory of those who lived through previous wars. He also mentioned that a major impetus to senior citizens blogging is the desire for their stories to be handed down to their grandchildren. These are all very important points, and perhaps reason enough to get most individuals involved in the blogosphere.

However, as Ivan himself mentioned, there are a growing number of individuals today who are electing to not have children. Although he didn't explore that idea very much, I think it is a rather interesting observation. If a common way to get individuals to blog is by convincing them that their children/grandchildren will want to read their stories, how do you convince child-free individuals to blog? Why should I, as a woman who has decided not to have children, continue the exercise of documenting my thoughts and activities if there will be no progeny to take joy in reading those experiences?

And that's where I think Ivan's point about collective historical memory comes back into play. Yes, it would be nice if I could have my Nonna's stories about living through WWII in print to read every day. I would love to always be able the details of how she always wore the soles out of her shoes before her rationing tickets allowed her to buy new ones, and how it was only through the luck of her homebody sister that she had extra shoe rations. I would also enjoy being able to access her experiences as a female athlete, especially how her father wouldn't let her play on the women's softball team past a certain age because it was assumed that all of the women who played ball past a certain age were lesbians. But more importantly, those experiences are of benefit to the collective American memory. It is important for all women in sports today to know the stories of the women who paved the way for them, and it is important for all individuals in society to know how a long war could potentially affect their everyday lives. Although it is important to blog for one's descendants, it is also important to blog for the descendants of all, so that individual recollections can contribute to a collective, national memory.

Thank you, Ivan, for being a great part of the Davies Forum Spring 2008 series


Ivan Chew said...

Hey Sara, I love this statement of yours: "Although it is important to blog for one's descendants, it is also important to blog for the descendants of all"!

On the Internet, the whole world is your audience. Including generations after us. Our ideas go beyond national boundaries.

Glad the talk made sense to you. Good luck with the rest of the forum!

Kelly said...

You know, I hadn't thought of it this way, but you are right on about likening Ivan's pp presentation to a movie. I especially like how it wasn't a movie that we (including Ivan) just passively watched. It enhanced the centerpiece of the day--Ivan!

Your post really got me thinking about why we blog in the first place. I believe you have inspired me to ponder this in a new post. Thanks!

Blake said...

I also really liked the idea of leaving your life story behind for future generations to read. I have always hated how I couldn't remember all of my life events in the past and I have realized that blogging is a great way to preserve them