24 March, 2008

Technology Amazes Local Woman

I am not a blogger, I am a knitter. I have tried to be a good blogger. I have tried to care about the people who for some reason or another want to read my blog. And I appreciate those of you who do read my blog. However, devoting the last 10 years of my life to knitting, I have never in my life spent less time knitting. Keeping up with knitting these days doesn't mean spending more time with needles in your hands, it means spending endless hours with a mouse in your hand, updating a blog that will never be updated often enough to keep readers happy, listening to podcasts, perusing patterns on ravelry, sending comments, favorite-ing the project of that person you like or want to like you--when the hell am I supposed to spend time on my ACTUAL KNITTING?! Something is wrong when the time that I do actually spend knitting feels riddled with guilt for not updating my blog or getting out my camera to document every minutae of progress on a project. It is incredibly frustrating to me to be seen as a less good knitter because my graphic design isn't as good as the next person.

It's like the Powerpoint-ing of America, but knitting style. Power-pointing? Hear me out: Powerpoint is ruining creative process, and ruining business and academia in this country. If you cannot use Powerpoint no one will listen to your idea, even if your idea is incredibly brilliant. If it doesn't fit the Powerpoint format your idea is useless. Why is academic teaching now all relegated to what is essentially glorified overhead projections? That is not teaching. The SF Chronicle wrote an article on the technological dumbing down of academic work and the way that the technological divide has hurt poorer schools by flooding them with technology they can't afford to maintain or use and is taking away time previously used to learn basic academic concepts:

School papers are so dominated by computer graphics these days that students often spend only a fraction of their time on the intellectual content of the report. Strangely, instead of bemoaning d developments like these, nearly everyone -- teachers and parents, principals and politicians -- applauds them. (
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi- bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/11/30/ING8L39SIP1.DTL)

I can feel the computer rotting my brain. Are the blog-less, or those whose blog is not the be all end all of their existence, seen as less intelligent, less driven, less talented? It seems so. But a blog well-photographed doesn't make one a good writer and knitting projects photographed with good lighting do not a technically proficient knitter make.

Writing about a thing and doing a thing are two different things. I am not a public speaker, I am not a writer. I actually almost didn't graduate college because I owed a teacher a rewritten paper I couldn't bring myself to complete. I don't want to go to grad school because I don't want to write the thesis. I am not a writer, I'm a maker of things. And there should be nothing wrong with that. Isn't it someone else's job to write about the things I make if they are considered worth being written about? Someone with some training in, you know, writing about things worth writing about? If I am moved, as I am today, to write I will write. But no one should honestly give a flying fuck what I think about the meaningless minutes of my day. We should all have better things to do and care about, like what our cat is doing. Because we are honestly in love with our cat, not because her latest antics, if properly photographed, will make good blog fodder! The more time we spend trying to be clever on our blogs the less intelligent we become.

Then on the flip side there are all the things that technology makes easier and faster.  Old methods of advertising are no longer working, or simply aren't viable. Paper mailings are dreadfully unsucessful, not to mention all the paper that is wasted. People expect amazon.com-like personalized advertising. We gave up on our newsletter mailings a couple of years ago, deeming them not worth the expense, time or resources. But what happens to the knitting customer who inevitabley calls once a month or so asking if we have a catalog we can mail her? Do we have a newsletter we can send? I have to say no. This woman must depend on a larger company like Patternworks who can afford to meet her non-internet needs or she can't have access to knitting anymore. Her local yarn store has totally let her down. And if we hadn't, if we decided that was unacceptable, how many of our other customers would we loose as a result? When there is a finite amount of advertising money and time we can spend on projects are we going to update the website and advertise on Ravelry, which will cost us less to nothing and reach many more knitters, or go to the printers with a newsletter and spend hundreds of dollars on postage and address labels and hours of staff time sticking mailing labels and sliding piece after piece of mail through the postage meter? And obviously this is a macrocosm of a larger news media advertising problem.  
I'm not saying I'm going to stop blogging or anything. I know that it is too late for that. Joining the throngs of redundant print media writers beleaguering blogs and those "young upstarts" who write them will not serve me well. But, I miss the good old days when someone would prove their talents by being talented at the thing they cared about, not the graphical beauty of it's dissemination.

I am a knitter, and I sometimes blog too. But I am going to try and spend more time knitting and playing with my baby instead of putting him in a chair next to the computer to sit while I blog.


EmilyG said...

Definitely a tricky balance - but I think you're more than allowed to make your own decisions about how much you blog/compute in general.

Knitting is art. Writing and photography are art, too. When all three of these are done excellently in a blog, it can become something really amazing. But being good at or enjoying one of those three things doesn't mean you're automatically good at or enjoy doing the others.

I kind of enjoy flexing my writing and photography muscles every now and then, just to stretch a creative side that I don't use much. But the thing that I really adore doing is knitting, and that always takes precedence. I think I've blogged a lot less (which is to say, almost never) since Ravelry came around because I was using the blog largely to document my projects, and I've got a really cool, easy-to-use database I can do that with now. And I can even use it to show others what I made -without feeling any pressure to say anything clever.

As a designer, the trick for you is that being a prolific blogger would be great advertisement. As with any advertisement, if you've got some kind of a hook (amazing prose, stunningly artistic photos), you'll probably make more sales. But the great thing is that even if you don't have a world-famous blog with gazzilions of regularly fed readers, you've still got Rosie's, your website, and Ravelry doing your advertising for you, and reaching WAY more people than any print publication ever could.

Anyway, not to blather on, but here's what I say: knit without guilt; parent without guilt. Spend your time satisfying yourself, not anonymous (or non-anonymous) readers. They ain't got no claim on you, and you get to call it.

So there's Emily's Wisdom for the Day. (*snarf*) Go thou and knit and dream and design and snuggle thy sweetie and cuddle thy son. :)

knithappy said...

That is the most well though out comment ever. It really made me feel good. Thanks for being great. I guess this is the beauty of instant media, right?

EmilyG said...

Aww! Guess I had something to say, eh?


mindy said...

uh... what's Powerpoint? (tee hee)

Hug that sweet boy, knit to your heart's content, and blog when you really want to say something- which you did, and it was wonderful. I'm struggling with starting a blog- but what am I going to take that time away from (she thinks as she's reading blogs and news stories on her computer when she really should be knitting or something)? I have such a love/hate thing going on with the computer.

mariss said...

Excellent post, my dear. Emily summed it up greater than anyone else could!

I for one do not think any less of you because you may not have a MFA in Graphic Design or blog daily. You are an extremely talented and interesting person, and you should want to spend your free time with your loved ones and doing the things that YOU enjoy, not doing things out of obligation.

I don't think you have anything to prove, since you're already the Knitting Zen Master in my mind.

I know what you mean about the computer overload, though. I do enjoy blogging and documenting things sometimes, but more to show my friends and family far away what I've been up to. However, I was just in Indiana for a wedding and took the time to enjoy myself and not take photos for blog fodder.

Hugs to you and that cutie-pie boy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Courtney,
Loved your entry--I have thought off and on about starting a blog, and the main reason I don't is that I spend most of my day in front of a computer at work. Coming home and firing it up again is the last thing I want to do most days. I resisted getting a digital camera until last year, as I knew I wouldn't want to spend free time organizing photos on the computer. I re-started knitting about 7-8 years ago, not coincidentally with starting a job where I was in front of a computer all day. I found I wanted to make tangible things with my hands after a day spent twiddling with data on the computer. Knitting, gardening, cooking, working on the house--these things all feed that side of myself that needs some connection to the physical world. Knitting is also creative and beautiful. I dip into blogs when I'm having a cup of tea, and I like ravelry mainly as a space to log my own projects, for myself. I'll continue to check out your blog on a tea break, but mostly just to see if you've come up with another amazing pattern. I also think there is a danger is confusing checking out someone's blog, and having a personal interaction. And with that, I'll shut up!


Anonymous said...

I am totally with you on the fraking powerpoint. It's a crutch, people don't know how to use it properly or effectively, and, as you say, almost no one will take you seriously unless you have one. It's idiotic.

-- Allison

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm looking for somewhere I can purchase the half pi shawl pattern and from Ravelry I've deduced that you are the designer. Is this pattern still available?

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Deborah said...

Your baby is only young once. You don't get a "re-do". Any woman who has had a baby understands that and expects it. The baby is and SHOULD be your priority. I read blogs and I enjoy them, but I don't do it everyday...I have a life too. I really enjoyed reading this and spent the whole time nodding my head in agreement. I have thought about blogging and decided against. Too much time taken away from the things I love in my life. Even if it is what I call "Cat Ballet". It's nice to see you prioritize and know what is important! As for me, I will be coming by, occasionally, as the mood strikes and I hope you have fun with the baby!