Friday, September 9, 2005

When MIT Came Knocking ...

Hi Julie,

I am a researcher at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am working on an 'in-depth interviews' project with people of all ages from different communities across the country, and their relationship with technology.

I am very much interested to talk with you about your blog. I'm in Dallas this week. For your convenience I'm including a link to the school and to my research center.
Now there's an email you don't get every day. Tom and I checked it out and Grace really was from MIT, working on her dissertation, and interviewing bloggers around the country.

So, what the heck. Why not give it a whirl? Last Friday Grace came to our office and later to our home and taped all about blogging, Julie D. style. I think I now have an inkling of what it might be like to be the subject of a documentary. She'd ask questions and we'd talk about my answer some. Then I'd give the answer again for the camera, always watching out of the corner of my eye for the "cut" sign that I'd talked enough and also trying to keep in mind the original question.

The funniest thing.
(And I wasn't even there for it.) Grace filmed me walking out of my office to my car and driving away. On the way I got some very curious looks as you can imagine with my one person entourage dogging my steps with her camera. I told a couple of men by the door, "It makes me look important, doesn't it?"

Grace said that on the way back in, these two men stopped her and said, "Who was that?"

"What?" said Grace. "You didn't recognize her? That's Julie D. I thought everyone knew her."

"Oh, yes, of course," the men nodded wisely.


Thought provoking things.
Did I think that blogging was an inherently anti-social activity given that you are actually alone when you are communicating with your "on-line community?" No, I don't (though I could tell that Grace didn't agree and we discussed this at length). Although more people can join in, I equate blogging to letter writing. Yes, you can use to avoid society if you want, but that applies to a whole lotta activities. (that is the short answer...)

How is Julie D. different than me? Truth to tell, I never thought of Julie D. as being a different persona but she's a bit nicer than I am. While I may rant and rave to my family while working out an issue, Julie D. tends to keep her cool better (the public versus private life thing).

Most surreal thing.
Filming me typing on the blog in my office while I played a song by The Killers. I am not sure I will ever hear that song again without thinking of Grace circling me, zooming in close on the keyboard, etc. It's really hard to just keep on doing what you're doing without looking at that camera.

The "at home" thing.
Grace filmed us playing Pounce (a great card game that I have been meaning to fill y'all in on for a long time). Good thing we weren't playing for points because she also was talking to Tom and the girls about if they read the blog (which they do), am I a social person (this got a loud laugh and many stories about how much I talk to everyone), why Rose would never want to live anywhere but Texas (does this need explaining? I didn't think so.).

An enlightening thing.
Grace said that there was a blogging couple in Vermont who had much the same attitudes that I did about blogging not being an anti-social activity. What makes that interesting at all was that she said, "they're about as different from you as they could be" (translation: liberal, Democrat, I'm guessing "not Catholic", fill in the blanks from there). That was very reassuring on a basic level. We may believe in totally different methods to get to our goals but that people with such a different mindset had the same basic practicality and common sense gave me a sense of hope for our polarized country (yes, yes, patting myself on the back so hard does hurt my arm some).

The unexpected thing.
After filming, Grace started asking about how I got to be such a "woman of faith" (I really felt as if I should be wearing a long shapeless black dress whenever she said that). So, well, y'all know me by now right? (ahem ... HAPPY CATHOLIC!) That kind of question just leads to faith sharing and more faith sharing. I must not have scared her too badly because we wound up having rather a heart to heart over various large issues of belief.

The final thing.
It was fun. And I liked Grace. If you're reading this ... stay in touch!

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