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Starting Out

July 26, 2010

I’m overwhelmed by the number of Firefox tabs I have open right now. Most are about the Wikileaks release, but there’s also a set of articles on the intelligence community, Restrepo, the potential for Kyrgyzstan to become a democracy, and what looks to be a fascinating piece about thinking in straight lines. As I try to read, absorb, and process the flow of text, though, I’m struck by how difficult it is even to keep up with current events, much less understand the issues on a deeper, more nuanced level. The shouting down the wire on Twitter is staggering, and I am compelled to click every. single. link. in case I miss something crucial.

Partly, of course, this is because I’m trying to learn everything all at once. I feel like I’m catching up on several years worth of conversations and debates on an incredibly broad set of topics, and it’s to be expected that it’s slow going. Fundraising taught me how to talk to people, how to build relationships and teams, and how to sell Brookings and its research, but it didn’t require me to analyze arguments or probe our scholars’ work for authority and legitimacy. In fact, it was probably better not to.

So. I’m blogging as a way to force myself to organize my thoughts and put them into words, and to analyze the national security narratives I’m so fascinated by. I know blogging is supposed to be a conversation, that I’m supposed to be writing for an audience and that only by adding value to my readers’ lives will we all be happy and blah blah blah… whatever. That’s not the point here. Of course I welcome your comments. I want to learn, and right now all I seem to have are questions.

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2 Comments
  1. October 7, 2010 8:30 pm

    Hi,

    I came across you on Twitter. I can totally sympathise with you. I’ve struggled with this throughout my college career, and, to be honest, I’m looking forward to getting back to it in January. You might be interested to check out my post on a similar subject here: http://afghanoutsider.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/on-reading/

    Best of luck with your site and the blog. I hope that it allows you to understand yourself and the world better.

    Peace.

  2. October 21, 2010 12:21 pm

    Thanks, Joe! It’s definitely a challenge to write long-form, especially after finally getting used to the 140-character bursts of Twitter.

    In response to your blog post (which, how narcissistic of me, to respond on my own blog – sigh), I find reading crucial to figuring out what I don’t know enough about, and to determining what the scholarly consensus is (if there is one). Part of my difficulty in writing is being very aware of my limitations – I feel like my real advantage is knowing where to find answers, who to ask for help, how to evaluate sources, and how to tease out interesting implications, which is all well and good, but makes it difficult to generate interesting blog posts. So, we’ll see! It’s probably about time for me to start my once-a-month blog post for November, huh? 🙂

    Good luck with your blog (and the Masters degree)!

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